Like learning an instrument

That’s the best way to approach training. It’s too bad that in our society of extremes, we have turned the pursuit of fitness, or a healthier life for that matter, into this ride or die, all in or all out thing.

Training with the future in mind, meaning, taking up a sustainable practice is most necessary. The problem, is that you want a quick fix. You want to lose 10 pounds and then hope that you can go back to your life just like before but that weight will stay off, this time.

So many people fall into that trap because the fitness they are pursuing is not sustainable. There is no progression, no skill and no brain power involved. Recently, on a podcast, I heard a coach say that training should be like learning an instrument. Although I never have played any musical instrument, I drew the parallels immediately.

To play an instrument well, you must first develop the necessary skills. You need to have focused training sessions to gain better understanding of how to read music, to how play the instrument and how to hear what sounds right and what sounds off. This takes time, but more importantly it takes focus. Maybe a few hours a week of no cell phone, not getting hung up on work stress, or thinking about what to do over the weekend. You need that dedicated focus.

So many fitness programs miss the boat here. Mindless exercise doesn’t allow you to use your brain to learn a new skill, or master a new movement with your body. Frankly, slugging away on an elliptical just isn’t a good way to become healthier.

You must put in the time to learn an instrument. As you learn more, you can apply more. You start to take on more and more complex sounds or songs. The same with training. As your motor control gets better, as your strength improves and as you gain new ranges of motion through mobility work – you need to try more complex movements, or challenge your body in different ways. We can do that by increasing the volume or the load, increasing range of motion among a variety of other progressions.

Here’s the thing though, it isn’t just about time and focus, you must be learning and adapting to new skills or new stressors. If I were to put you in a room with a saxophone, one hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 3 months – just putting in the time wouldn’t do anything for your musical skill. I see this happen all the time with runners.

They think more and more miles, without considering running skills/mechanics or building strength and resilience will lead them to better running. Just do more miles each week and then you’ll run a marathon, just like that! Apply that to the music lesson. No instruction whatsoever. Sit in a room and play more and more minutes each week. At the end of 3 months you’ll have a full set of music ready to show off to your friends. I don’t think so…

The message here is simple. Take more of a long-term approach to your training. What are you going to look/feel/be able to do in 3 years from now? What about 10 years from now? How good could you get at playing guitar if you practice intensely for 3 hours a week for 10 years?


Like learning an instrument