Training OUT of the Zone

You hear talk all the time about “training in the zone”, “being in the zone”, etc. I want to convince you to train OUT of the zone. By “zone”, I mean your comfort zone.

People naturally gravitate towards what’s easiest. We avoid tougher, more challenging training and stick with what we know. It’s the reason people fall into ruts, athletes stop progressing and individuals stop seeing changes, despite putting in long hours in the gym.

I went to the climbing gym today, as I do every week. My climbing partner and I got in a discussion with some other climbers about a particular route and why it would be so challenging. It had a lot of overhangs, but technically, it was rated far below what this climber is capable of doing. In theory, it should be an easy climb for him.

The climber said “I don’t do overhangs”. Right away, we asked him why? He said he wasn’t comfortable with them and would rather spend his time getting better on the vertical routes. We started discussing comfort zones and how important it is to work on the weak areas of your sport. The climber fully understood the importance of this, but still avoided the tougher overhangs whenever possible. This same mentality exists in any sport. I’m certainly not saying it happens with everyone, but the key is to recognize that there are weak spots with your training, then work to overcome them.

For many people in many different sports, conditioning is a huge factor. I’ve said it before, but it can make or break an individuals performance. Interval training can be extremely beneficial when it comes to increasing your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, but performing intervals can push the body’s heart rate to extremely high levels and bring on a level of fatigue that many have never experienced before. As a result, they avoid it outright.

The same is true when it comes to strength and skill training. This also goes for recreational athletes and people just looking to get in shape. If you stick solely with what you know, the body will never be able to push beyond it’s current level. Try new skills, lift heavier weights (safely and within reason) and switch up your “cardio” training. You’ll be surprised just how fast the body adapts to overcome it’s new stress.

Got some specific training issues that you feel are hindering your performance or results? Post them here and we’ll address them specifically.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.