Earning the Right to Go Hardcore

If you’re hungry, don’t go grocery shopping. Everybody knows that one.

The same principle applies elsewhere, so how about this: if you’re feeling vengeful or paranoid, don’t write your nation’s nuclear weapons policy. If you’ve got a case of the sads, let it pass before you adopt all those kittens. And maybe, just maybe if you’re angry or frustrated with yourself, don’t use that moment to choose a training or nutrition strategy.

Because you’d inevitably choose to turn it up to 11.

Everyone should, from time to time, dial the intensity up to 11; where they pull out all the stops for training or nutrition.

There’s got to be a good reason to get that hardcore, though. Maybe it’s competition or looking your best. Maybe it’s just time to know your limits a little more intimately.

These are good reasons. Impatience or frustration are not.

Here’s the important thing to remember: going hardcore stretches your boundaries for a short period of time. It doesn’t slingshot them into another realm. That’s why it’s wise to do some groundwork. The bigger your base, the higher/more hardcore your peak.

Aerobic fitness improves quickly. Technique in a new exercise improves quickly. Specific endurance improves quickly. Even strength – if you’re new to training – improves quickly. If you haven’t been training consistently, taking one month (or more) to build up your physical abilities will substantially elevate the kind of training you can handle.

Taking a month to ramp up also means not dreading your next training session because of the epic ass-kicking waiting there for you. It’s time to get your schedule down so your expectations needn’t be much grander than simply showing up.

Start with a twig press. Work up to a log press.

During that ramp-up month, you will also build habits that didn’t previously exist. Here’s an example:

Let’s say that going hardcore nutritionally means 4 oz. of wild game, a pile of locally-sourced chard and some kind of miracle grain for dinner. Or an elaborate and expensive smoothie. That’s cool. But what if you don’t even regularly grocery shop right now? You’re going to come back from an insanely hard workout and stare into a fridge so sad and empty that it’s thinking about adopting the aforementioned kittens, a local highway, and a baby goat. You’re not ready to go hardcore yet. However, taking that ramp-up month to simply buy groceries every Sunday and collect a few recipes will give you the opportunity to eat and recover far better once you kick things into high gear.

Finally, building up to hardcore is a sort of cooling-off period. It forces you to ask what kind of lifestyle you’re willing to maintain before you write a cheque that your knees, or back, or self-esteem can’t cash.

Take at least a month to build your foundations. You’ll find that those boundaries stretch a whole lot further once you finally do crank that dial up.