And when it comes to body size and training, we assume like crazy. One thing may not actually be connected to another. Training is – on a fundamental level – simply about what you do, not about your shape or even any outcome. All that is, as the ancient Greeks would say, with the Gods. You do not control outcomes. You can control your intention and actions, and maybe even your desires if you think about them in a certain way, if you’re unafraid to question them, though that statement could lead me off on a whole other tangent.
But when it comes to physical training and exercise, the trick is only this:
Appropriate progressions, in the context of conditioning the body and mind to the work over time.
We know this.
Resilience develops over time, as does the capacity for hard work. When you aren’t yet used to a thing, you are not capable of hitting it hard, but when you are well-practiced, you are well-practiced, and the more you practice training – either dynamically or gently – in a way that is appropriate to you, the better you get at judging it, and participating on your own terms.
And it’s true: gentle training is useful too.
People like to argue sometimes, about whether or not overtraining is a real thing, but in an academic sense it is irrelevant. People talk in hypothetical or moral terms, in broad terms, but what is the question you actually need answered? Is it possible to be overdoing it, even when it looks like you aren’t? Of course it is. Is it possible to give more, to exercise and commit more, whether it’s a good idea or no? Of course it’s possible. It may or may not be a good choice. It does not need to be judged externally, by sets or reps or comparative strength. And if giving it a name is useful, you are free to do so, but it does not change the experience.
We know what we can tolerate and what we cannot, what stimulates us and what burns us out, what we can recover from and what we cannot, and if we don’t – we learn more about our capacity every time we train. And it shifts, over time, as well. We progress, plateau, and regress, all the time. When people plateau they often speak as if they’ve done something wrong, they wonder what they could be doing better. But it happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it’s just what happens to people when we work at a thing, but there may be other things you can do that will help, rather than just… trying to not be fatigued.
It doesn’t really matter where you are now. If you overdo it too soon you will be overwhelmed. Because balance really is a thing, and all things exist in context; what is too much for one person will not be enough for another. But if you give yourself a gentle opportunity to experience growth, in your own way, in time you may grow in the direction you wish. Just be wary of tricks and secrets. There are no real secrets in fitness.