Outside the zone

Many times you hear athletes speak of being "in the zone". This is a situation where they are on a roll and everything seems to go their way. The athlete is focused and everything seems to flow for them during the race / game / contest, and they seem to do no wrong. The "zone" is often used to describe an athlete who has a near perfect game or performance.

However, in this article I want to talk about what I call being "outside of the zone". What I mean by this is being outside of your comfort zone when you train and compete. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts only train within their comfort zone, and rarely venture outside of this zone.

They never push themselves, and their workouts and training are never uncomfortable for them. To me, the secret of the top athletes in any sport is that they have learned how to be uncomfortable in their training and in competition. Those athletes who are able to feel comfortable being uncomfortable are the ones who are the most successful.

Almost every week, I receive questions that relate to this concept in some way. Athletes write and ask why they still get tired 5 minutes into a moto, when they can go out and run 5 miles or bicycle for 30 minutes without any trouble.

If you think about it, the answer is pretty clear. They do the same workout all of the time and never train outside their comfort zone. Running (or whatever they are doing) is easy for them and their heart rate and breathing rate probably never go above a certain level. Then they wonder why they can't handle an intense activity such as motocross even though they train all of the time.

You have to train with intensity, if you expect to compete with intensity – be sport-specific in your training. As I always say - "You are what you train to be". Besides changing the intensity of the exercise or drill, you need to mix up your exercises and workouts. Try the following for a change:

- Change the order of the exercises

- Try new exercises or drills

- Do sprints with little rest (intervals) instead of a long distance run

- Run hills or stadium steps instead of a long distance run

- Do circuit training instead of traditional weightlifting

- Do bodyweight exercises instead of lifting weights (there are many choices in Motocross Fitness)

- Get a training partner so you can push each other to higher levels

- And, most importantly, make yourself uncomfortable at some point in your training - really push yourself!

These are just a few suggestions, but, remember, you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in your training if you expect to become stronger and better conditioned.

For example, do weightlifters and powerlifters lift the exact same weight for the same number of reps and sets every week, month, and year in their training? Of course not - if they do they will never get stronger. They have to push themselves to lift heavier weights over a set period of time so their body will adapt and become stronger. This same concept applies to all athletes' training.

Here's a challenge for you. Walk into any gym in the world today, look around closely and you'll see many people working out on the bench press, leg press, curls, etc. Go back to the same gym next year and I'll bet you money that 90% of those same people (if they're still there) are still doing the same workout with the same weights, sets, and reps, and they are wondering why they don't get stronger or look better. It's obvious, they never change their workout or push themselves outside of the comfort zone.

If you want to become a better athlete - regardless of the sport - you have to push harder throughout your training schedule - or you will always stay the same. To see improvement in your fitness you have to work outside of your comfort zone at some time in your training schedule. It may not be at every workout, but it has to happen on a regular basis. You have to stress your body, and train yourself to be able to work through times of being uncomfortable - whether it's on the bike, running, exercising, etc.

I could write much more about this topic, but I'll stop there for now. The bottom line is you have to push yourself in your training if you want to be the best and learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Don't let anything get in your way, and don't settle for second when you can take first.