Posted by: Joe English | March 21, 2013

Training — You Can’t Give More Than 100%

running-advice-bugGrrrr. . . I was in spin class this morning, and although I loved the instructor, she said something that rubbed me the wrong way. She’s actually just the latest in a series of spin instructors that has used similar language and I want to write about it today. In her most supportive and motivational way she shouted at the top of her lungs: “Come on guys, let’s give 110%!

Baah. 110%. Really? I get it. It’s supposed to mean “don’t leave anything on the table”, but we really cannot ask our bodies to give more than 100%. Giving 100% is plenty, believe me. If you are giving it your all, you don’t need to give more than that. The problem is often that we don’t give it our all, but going above and beyond that is simply beyond what we can truly ask our bodies to give.

Let me step back a minute and tell you another story. A few weeks ago, in yet a different spin class, the instructor starting playing this little trick on the class. He’d set us up for a sprint of a certain amount time — let’s just say 60 seconds. He’d say, “OK, here we go, give it everything you’ve got for 60 seconds!” And then at the end of the 60 seconds he’d say, “OK, keep it going class for another 30 seconds if you can!” ‘Wait a second’, I thought to myself. If I am pacing myself to give 100% for 60 seconds then I can’t go for another 30 seconds. That’s DOUBLE the amount of the interval. I SHOULDN’T have anything left at the end of the 60 seconds to give if I am giving it my all. That well should be dry. Tapped out. If I can pull another 30 seconds out of that well then I wasn’t pacing myself right in the first place.

Am I splitting hairs here? Perhaps. But let’s think about this as a part of a more holistic approach to our lives. If we’ve constructed a good training plan for ourselves as athletes then that plan will have us working pretty hard and giving all that we have much of the time. There are times that we have to push ourselves and times that we can relax. The sum of the parts adds up to 100% — not more than 100%. If we’re giving more than 100% then we have a problem. Something doesn’t add up. Something will have to give.

So to have an attitude that has us shooting for greater than what we can actually achieve is self-defeating. I would argue that we should craft our thoughts and thinking in the following way: “give everything that you have today, but don’t lose sight of tomorrow and don’t forget about yesterday.” In other words, you want to find the balance that give as much as you can to optimize in your training life but keeps yourself in balance.

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  1. Give 110% has always really annoyed me as well. My motto in life is “Give 100%, 100% of the time.” Because, in truth, if you do that, it’s the best you can do.

  2. I have to be honest when I 1st started reading this post I thought this person is being way to serious, but after reading the whole thing I LOVE THIS POST! I totally agree w/ u about the instructor asking for 100% for 60sec then wanting another 30 “if u can”. You shouldn’t b able to if u gv ur all during those 1st 60. However, I must admit giving 100% is not always the case & the instructor probably knows that. I’m am a PT instructor & I’m very aware of how hard it is to give 100%. Especially b/c naturally the body DOES NOT want to work – lol

    Great post! thx!

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