Sustainable

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Sustainable:

Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance

Of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

Capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage sustainable development.

We use the word sustainable a lot at Ambition Athletics.  To me the word sustainable has become the most important word in the strength, fitness and health world that I live in.  I honestly believe virtually all training, health, diet, etc. questions boil down to either; it depends on your goals or, is it sustainable?

Those attempting to make a change who get burned out, quit or injured, resulting in frustration often times have chosen a path that is not sustainable.  Think about it.  I may be able to devise the single greatest strength training program that will deliver all of the results you seek.  However, if it requires training for 3 hours a day, 6 days a week and you have a family and a full time job, then good luck.  In that same vain, if you are one of the people that believes you have to be sore the next day for it to have been a successful “workout”, you are destined for failure in the long term.  If I were to make massive changes to your diet, all at one time, although the plan might look just like what your friend Johnny Diet eats on the regular, it is unlikely at this juncture that it will be sustainable for you.  There is no reason to feel like you are suffering.  A plan that you loath is not a long term plan for success.

Now, that being said, I don’t believe that your training or diet has to be sustainable at all times provided that you have an understanding of the concept going in.  That’s where I think the 80% Rule rules yet again.  If you eat well 80% of the time and 20% of the time are more lenient, that’s sustainable.  Or on the flip side, if just 20% of the time (of a year let’s say) you decide to go on some sort of hardcore diet where you really plan to make a change, and the other 80% you just eat “normal”, that is likely sustainable.  In training if you are working at about 80% effort most of the time (80%) that leaves 20% of the time to really ramp up your training or pick times to try really test yourself, and possibly set a PR.  I think this is similar to Dan John’s park bench, bus bench training concept.  With the bus bench you are expecting things to happen.  With the park bench, not so much.  The idea is to just be consistent and continue practicing and perfecting movement and speed.  Nothing dramatic is expected to happen.  In other words, if you are training hard or on an extreme diet 12 months a year and expecting big changes or challenging yourself that often, there is a good chance you will burn yourself out.

Make an assessment.  Where are you right now?  Where do you want to be?  If you have short term goals that’s fine but understand in the big picture it’s a process and a way of living rather than a quick fix.

– Mike Baltren

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