Training Mindset vs Competition Mindset

When it comes to training and competition, they’re two very different animals. The problem is that all too often people don’t approach them in a beneficial way. You need a completely different training mindset than you need toward competition. Lemme give you a few tips to help you get the right mindset for both!The goals of competition are different from the goals of training and that’s what creates the need for different approaches. When competing, you compete to win. This win could be against an opponent or against yourself. Because the goal is to overcome an obstacle, sacrifices will be made to technique, health, and safety to triumph.

There is no winning in training. The point of training is to improve and possibly prepare for competition. When you approach training with a competition mindset instead of a training mindset, injury becomes much more likely. Especially if you approach training with that mindset daily.

The mindset of get the next rep no matter what is completely at odds with the proper training mindset. This is especially true for people who are not professional athletes, as your sport of choice isn’t paying your bills.

There has to be a heaping dose of good sense applied to training. What good is a training session if you blow out your back trying to force out one more deadlift rep? Or you injure your knee trying to gut out another mile on that run? When this happens during a training session, not only do you not continue to progress, but now you can’t improve over the time it’s going to take to heal!

By approaching training intelligently and understanding that sometimes we will have to back off during training for safety, we ensure that we can come back next time and train, rather than sit on the sidelines recovering. If you’re having a hard time completing workouts as prescribed regularly, the problem actually isn’t with you. The problem is with your programming! If this is the case, it’s time to reevaluate.

I have a post on program design basics.

So what about competition then? In competition it has to be accepted that you will be taking on extra risk in order to win. You have to accept that you will possibly do things that would be considered unsafe in training. To use fighting as an example, your opponent will be trying to hit you much harder than your training partners should be hitting you. He, or she, will actually be trying to hurt you.

You need to decide what level of risk you are willing to accept in order to win when competing. This is the risk-reward scale I talked about before. Will you get at least as great a reward as the risk presents?

I watched a video of a guy in an MMA match gets his knee bent backward while trying to choke out his opponent. Here’s the video if you care to watch it.

He got the win. His opponent tapped out. But this is the very height of stupidity. While some people will talk about what a bad ass he is, and how you should never quit, what they won’t talk about is how this win may have cost him the rest of his career.

This is the very definition of winning the battle and losing the war. At best he’s looking at 12-24 months of recovery time from that injury, and his knee may give him problems for the rest of his life.

If this were a life and death struggle, which is the pinnacle of competition by the way, then the guy absolutely did the right thing. But this is a contest fight. Tap, learn from the experience, and move on to the next competition.

What if you don’t compete and you don’t care about this risk reward competition thing? Then it makes even less sense to do things in training that greatly increase your risk of injury.

Obviously there’s always some inherent risk, but if you’re exercising for your health, it makes even less sense to risk injury to improve health than to risk injury to compete better. I mean come on! Getting injured to get healthy?!?! Doesn’t make any sense at all!

There is no way to completely eliminate the risk of injury. This is life and stuff happens, but with a little careful consideration we can make steady improvement through out workouts. I’ve certainly been guilty of approaching training with a competition mindset instead of a training mindset. But the truth is, I’ve paid the price often enough that I’ve learned it’s a poor approach.

Approach your workouts with a training mindset, see steady improvement, and perform better!

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