Accept your limits, then break them?

It’s a commonly, positive, quoted thing: never accept second best, break through your limits, destroy fear, don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits, limits only exist in your mind… all that good stuff.

Now… I don’t want to be a buzz killington or anything here but… certain limits are a good thing, no? Say like, a speed limit? Probably a good thing. You push past that and bad things may happen, you push past it too often then, yeah, bad things WILL happen. I feel like I’m lecturing, but there is a message is here and hopefully I don’t lose you too soon…

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So, when we apply this to training methodologies – love that word, always makes you sound smarter, could of stopped at the word “training”, but didn’t – we have to understand that everyone has limits and it’s only when we discover what they are that we can really start to build. If you push past them, you’re not playing by the rules of the persons body you’re working with: the risk/reward factor is too high.

An example from a mobility perspective, if someone had a limited range of motion that inhibited them to squat correctly and they continued to heavy squat without addressing that issue, they are constantly breaking the proverbial speed limit and something is gonna give. The worst thing about these negative consequences is that they don’t happen over night, you could go for a year before your joints start to feel like pepper grinders, and it all could have been avoided by discovering your Most Important Limiting Factor (MILF).

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Putting it into a fitness perspective, if you are wanting to go all in, jump into the deep end and exercise till you boke, good luck too you! If your body can hold up to your enthusiasm then I genuinely am pleased for you! Most people I have met though, can’t do that. Building your fitness progressively is the best way to go. A major symptom of “overtraining” is lacking motivation, that’s why the one hundred million people that go balls to the wall at the start of January drop off – they couldn’t maintain that drastic change to their lifestyle and their body put an end to it very quickly.

Your body learns “limits” as a way to keep you safe, the only way to “push past” those limits is to first find where they are and gradually nudge over them by sensible training (methodologies). Try putting that quote on a photo of beautiful landscape and use it as motivation. For the large part, you’re already stronger than you think you are, it’s the magic “beginner gains” where you PR every lift almost every week. It’s not that your coach is the best in the world, it’s more that your body is finding out that training is relativley safe, and as you learn more about the movements it allows you to access more of your true strength by expanding the limits it had put on you. I experience this all the time, if I don’t do something for a while it’s almost like my body puts the breaks on a little when I come back to it, it’s not that I’ve lost strength or gains, just my familiarity with the movement has reduced (check out familiarity concept) so my body auto-regulated itself to force me to take it easy. It’s fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

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Limits are a good thing and it’s only when you accept them and work with them that you can really progress. If you are constantly hurting your shoulder, you have to figure out why, if you’re always joining a gym and packing it in two months later you have to take a different approach, listen to your body and what it wants to do. All motivational thoughts in the world aren’t going to get me the side splits in a week! In order to achieve them I have to accept where I am at now, and how much time I am willing to devote to the skill – if I simply start stretching to the point I am ridiculously sore I am either going to give up or get hurt.

From a performance aspect, by moving better you’ll perform better, that’s just the way it is.  Surely I can’t be the only one to notice that the fittest, most talented athletes out there seem to move flawlessly, like they were only meant to do what they do and nothing else? Practice skills in slow motion, own your squat, own your lunge. Get OCD about how you move and perform and analyse everything, use your limits as your threshold to work in and push past them slowly and consistently!

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