Thursday, September 1, 2016

Get comfortable with discomfort

John embraces discomfort on ring push-ups.
Randy shared this article today: How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym

It makes the point that a big part of training for something hard (the example the author uses is endurance sports - marathon, cycling, triathlon, etc.) is learning to be uncomfortable. It's too easy in our modern lives to go through a day avoiding discomfort. You go from your climate-controlled house with comfortable furniture, a few steps to your comfortable car, a few more steps to your comfortable chair and ergonomic setup at the office, home to your comfortable couch and TV. But where in our day are we seeking out the kind of discomfort that helps us to grow, to get tougher psychologically? Many people avoid exercise because they're afraid of feeling uncomfortable - they find the idea upsetting.

Now Colorado is kind of an exception to this. We have extreme weather and extreme sports, and lots of people seek out both. Discomfort is a bit of a badge of honor here and I see wonderful examples of tough people all the time. But I think most of us could use a little more discomfort training in our daily lives, to make us a little tougher when we want to do something really difficult, and to help us get through the kinds of psychological challenges that come up in our lives.

There are many things we do in the gym that can make us uncomfortable, whether it's the slow and frustrating process of learning a new complex movement (snatches anyone?), pushing yourself to a new one-rep max, or just a tough workout that you're not sure you can finish. The worst thing you can do in those situations is to think, "Ugh, this hurts! I can't do it! I'm so uncomfortable!" A better approach is to acknowledge and then embrace the discomfort, to learn how to get yourself in a mental space where you know it's hard and it doesn't feel good and you're not fighting that anymore. One of my favorite ways to train this is with kettlebell movements. If you've done a 10-minute snatch test or full-cycle clean and jerk test, you may know what I mean. You start to get good at kettlebells when you learn how to tell yourself during one of those tests, yes, this hurts, but that's okay, that's just the way it is. And it can be amazing how learning that skill (and it's a skill) will help you in other workouts and, as the article says, in other parts of life.

When you come into the gym, you aren't just getting fit and healthy. You're getting tough.


squat 3x5
5 push-ups between sets


for sense of urgency:
accumulate 100 calories of rowing and 100 KB heavy swings

Endurance Option

accumulate 15 squats at 5RM
5 push-ups between sets


staying under AeroMax:
accumulate 100 calories of rowing and 100 KB light one-arm swings

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