Written by Ben Prinsloo
Moderation and Fitness
“Moderation” and its meaning are often lost when we start to take our training more seriously and the stronger terms like “extreme”, “Shred”, “explosive” begin to arise. If one understands moderation to be the limitation of excessiveness or extremities, it appears to be a limitation on the results of one’s training. However, if used correctly, it can better the results of one’s training, and ironically increase the extremities which one can achieve.
The fact of the matter is that while an extreme and explosive shred workout is a great thing, it becomes useless without moderation. Regardless of what your goals are, sustainability has to at least be somewhere in your priority list. Whether you are training for a sports match, a competition, or for summer, one would generally want to be able to get back into the gym after completing such a goal. But where one trains with ferocity without moderation, injuries and burn-outs leave a fitness career with an early death.
The most important ingredients to a good training regime can all by injected with a healthy dose of moderation to ensure sustainability and longevity.
For instance, moderation in diet can make a big difference. The once or twice a week cheat meal is probably one of the most well-known, and arguably most cherished, practices in modern meal plans. However, there are those that reject this notion, and rather attempt to maintain a 100% strict meal plan. This is certainly the harder route, and perhaps the rewards justify the discipline. In an ideal world the cheat meal serves to satisfy moderation in one’s diet, as it both satisfies the sweet tooth craving, and also the rest needed from the discipline associated with the meal plan.
Where one chooses to not subscribe to a cheat meal, moderation can still be found in flavor. It is not necessary to subject oneself to bland boiled beef, and wimpy wilted spinach all the time. Instead of a cheat meal, put aside some time on a free day to cook yourself something good. Perhaps find out how to make a Chicken Roulade, stuff it with no-fat cottage cheese and spinach, and poach it in chicken stock – a delicious, healthy, and perfect-macro low-carb meal. Your diet won’t be affected, you’ll not eat anything too much or too little if you choose the right recipe, but you’ll remember to enjoy food, rather than treat it as fuel and a chore. This goes a long way to keeping the mind rested and happy, and allows you to keep you diet up for longer without hating yourself for it!
Regarding moderation in physical training, to train to one’s limits yields the best results, so why would one moderate their training? When its crunch time one has to train to their absolute best. Any doubt in your mind will affect your performance. The top athletes would now put up their hand and note that moderation in training is left for the off-season sessions. On a strict understanding of what constitutes your “training” yes, this is probably true, but such a strict understanding doesn’t take note of what surrounds training.
As we all well know, our session on the field, in the gym, or in the ring, is only a fraction of the process – sleep, diet, mindset all contribute to the final result. To find sustainability in your physical training, even where you are training at 100%, place moderation in the surrounding factors – give your mind a break from strategy thinking by doing something completely unrelated – whether its painting a picture or playing a computer game. When you have finished your training session, and your debrief (whether it’s from your coach, or its simply making your protein shake), forget about what you’ve been doing, just for an hour. Occupy your mind with something else. If we are used to training, our bodies can handle what we are doing, it’s our mind that puts up the greatest limitation. The result of this is that you need to give the mind a chance to rest and recover, so it’s ready to push you to your limit again at the next session.
These little injections into your routine can go a very long way to ensuring sustainability in a highly disciplined and, hopefully, highly effective training regime. The trick to training is to not be a flash in the pan, it’s to be steady, consistent, and satisfying, so that you continue to enjoy what you do, and therefore continue doing it.