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Train better - Part IV (Purposeful training)
Train better - Part IV (Purposeful training)
Jami Tikkanen avatar
Written by Jami Tikkanen
Updated over a week ago

Previously, we introduced the idea of focusing on your process as a practical means to make consistent progress towards your goals. Today’s article will go more in-depth in one aspect of that process, purposeful training.

Shouldn’t all training be purposeful?

Yes, and some might say that if you’re not purposeful about your training then you are not really training at all but merely “exercising” (which can be fine by itself if your goal is to simply “have fun, stay fit and be healthy”, but it won’t help you reach your potential in our sport).

We have already discussed the importance of consistency (and patience) as foundations for your training philosophy. Now let’s see how becoming more purposeful in your daily training complements these two to help you become a better athlete.

What is this session about?

Purposeful training (just like deliberate practice) is done with an explicit intent to get better at a specific area of your performance. Each training block, week and session on The Training Plan represents an opportunity for improvement. We aim to be clear about the intent of each session so that you can focus on making the most out of these opportunities for yourself. 

What is this session about?”, is a powerful question to ask each time before you train. It will help you stay intentional and focused on your objectives for the day. When you know what you are working on, it is much easier to pay attention to the right things. 

  • Should I go all out or pace my effort?

  • How heavy should I go?

  • Which movement option would be the best one for me today?

  • Should I break the sets or try to go unbroken?

Review the training session, look at the notes and decide what you want to get out of your training today. Be specific, “How will I be better at the end of this session?”. Once you’ve done this, answering the other questions will become much easier. 

Am I competing or am I training today?

One of the challenges you will face is that it is easy to fall into the trap of competing (chasing numbers and trying to beat your training partners) instead of training (focusing on intentional, high-quality work to get better). 

There is a problem with always competing in training. Competing is about testing, expressing and showcasing your capacity, not about developing it. When competing, your focus is not on your long-term progress as an athlete but rather on your performance today. 

When you are training, you are purposefully exposing yourself to things that you are not (yet) good at. This means that you will have to struggle and will make mistakes. These are essential parts of the process and you should embrace them as opportunities. If you pay attention, they hold the keys to your progress. 

However, it is hard to pay attention to the details if you are caught up in chasing numbers or being faster than the person next to you. Make your training about getting better, not about winning. Work hard but always with intent. When you do this, you can save the winning for competitions. 

Your turn

  1. How often do you find yourself competing in training rather than training to get better? How is this affecting your results?

  2. Are there things in your training that you avoid doing because you’re not very good at them (yet) or they’re boring? What’s the price you are paying for this?

  3. For the next week, for each training session, commit to reviewing the session notes, then deciding “what is this session about” and “how will I be better at the end of it”. Let me know what happens.

Still your turn

We are always in the process of improving our programs. We are currently working to improve the session notes to make them even more useful to you. What notes would help you be more purposeful in your training sessions?

You can reply here with your ideas. 

Thank you for your attention and your help. They're both much appreciated.

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