Be Flexible in Your Training Needs

If you attend the gym a lot, you will see that some people spend their entire time frustrated. They pace back and forth, hassle people about when they will be done with a piece of equipment they need, and just generally don’t seem to be having a good time.

They have needs, they have a schedule,  and don’t we know that if they absolutely don’t do squats today that they will lose their hard-won gains?

Boo hoo.

I train in a community centre, it has 4 squat racks and a lot of demand. Sometimes you have to wait, or sometimes you have to just decide you are not getting a rack that day. Don’t become the kind of person who is so incredibly regimented that they ignore the bigger picture. Training is never perfect.

Cultivate adaptability and you can train anywhere. In the gym, in the woods, in a playground. Will it be perfect? No. But nothing ever is.

The simple fact is that training stress comes from expectation. Where you should be, what you should do, and how you should do it and nothing sucks the fun out of an activity more than “should”.


A really good example of this, I have a couple of throwaway workouts that I use when I feel uninspired, tired, or just don’t have the time. If you NEED 4 sessions of two hours a week in the gym, the second your life gets hectic, something will give. When building a training program (not just fitness, for any discipline) builds it around things you will stick to 90% of the time that yields results. When your training time gets cut (and it will, life finds a way), having the ability to go back to that almost sure thing will mean a lot to your long-term progress rather than doing nothing.

Examples of throw away work-outs:

Big lifts and bodyweight. Each of my gym sessions is built around a big lift (squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press) and a body weight exercise (dips, chin ups, push ups or leg raises). If I have limited time in the gym, I just do the big lift. If I can’t get to the gym, I do the bodyweight exercises. The important thing is I do something rather than nothing.

Kettlebell swings. Unsure what to do? Do a thousand kettlebell swings. Break it up into sets, take breaks as you need to.

Take the 100 rep challenge.

Go for a run.

This applies to everything. If you are a boxer, ask your coach what the minimum training you should be doing every day is, and what do you do if you have no equipment. Swordfighter? Practice in your kitchen with a spoon when you cannot make it to class.

Greatness is not built on creating the perfect training session and then rigidly adhering to it at the cost of your health and happiness, greatness comes from seeing every experience no matter how small as an opportunity to train.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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