By Sean Neff
As an athlete, one must have a total sense of everything around him in his given arena of competition. The size of the ring or field, what constitutes out-of-bounds, just how skilled the opposition has been in games past against similar opponents. Through utilizing all of this information (and more) the athlete can then gauge just what angle to take at which speed in order to compete most effectively for an advantage. In doing so, there is a “controlled aggression” that takes place so that all of the intelligence gathered isn’t wasted on overrunning the target or otherwise physically misjudging a play or opponent. The short burst to 100% effort is given at the last possible moment and has been planned using all of the preceding knowledge gathered. This effort is not used at all times throughout the game and is specific to the given circumstance.
In fitness, we can also use this “controlled aggression” to our advantage. Through the further collection of self-knowledge, we can better know just how hard to push and when we can push as hard as we can. When someone first starts out in a fitness regimen he or she may not know much about the journey that they are about to begin. The first thing that I ask of them is what they do exercise-wise for fun. The second is what injuries they may have had in the past (both exercise and non-exercise related). The third question is what have they been doing recently to keep in shape. Through the answers to these questions, we begin to piece together the physical strengths and weaknesses of the individual. A person who has enjoyed playing basketball throughout her life may have very good hand/eye coordination and lateral movement. A person with a torn rotator cuff will have problems with many upper body exercises unless modified. A person who runs races regularly will have outstanding stamina and be able to be pushed harder than others oftentimes.
These same questions can be answered for you as an individual in regards to the use of “controlled aggression” in your exercise routine. We all have our exercises in which we feel somewhat unstoppable. In group class experience we notice that we can outlast just about everyone and push a bit harder. On the other hand, there are others we may find to always be that uphill struggle. Every time that we get on a court, take a class or undertake private fitness instruction we are learning more about ourselves. We are learning more about our strengths and weaknesses both physically and emotionally. Through this knowledge, we can set the bar as to how hard we push and when to push hard much like the athletes in the first paragraph. We can use this “controlled aggression” to burst forth with our 100% effort on the exercises that we kick butt at and that will not further any aches and injuries that we may be nursing. Take the time to get to know yourself. Know your limitations and accept them as you get stronger and increase your stamina. In accepting your weaknesses and celebrating your strengths you will be able to know when to step on the gas and when to hit the brakes. You will grow to understand that the body changes as we age and that we must accept this in order to decrease the chance for injury and the furthering of present injuries. You will also grow to understand just how effective “controlled aggression” can be for your workouts when placed at just the right place in the right exercise for you.
You can use it to achieve greater goals and push through the plateaus that have been bugging the heck out of you.
Move forward and enjoy the extra push in your effort individualized to your personal strengths. Enjoy the athlete within you as you master “controlled aggression” in your workouts!