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Why You Should Train Like An Ancient Greek


The ancient Greek story about Olympic hero Milo is an apt illustration of modern principles of athletic conditioning and preparation. Unlike today's athletes, Milo did not use weights as resistance, nor did he use a specific exercise apparatus. Every day, Milo lifted a small calf into his arms and carried the calf a certain distance. As the calf grew into a bull, Milo continued his training. On the first day of the Olympics, Milo walked the length of the track while carrying a full-grown bull.

Milo had a plan, he believed in it, and he accomplished something no one had done before. Use his learnings about training to make your workout program more effective.

1. Training should be progressive.

Milo didn't start by carrying a full-grown bull. His training intensity increased as the calf grew. Some days he must have tired or that he could have worked harder. But each day he completed his task, his body was introduced to greater amounts of stress. He made the necessary physical adaptation to accomplish an amazing feat by the end of his training cycle: His Olympic debut.

2. Training should prepare you to succeed on deadline.

Milo planned his training to peak for the Olympics. He also may have made the necessary arrangements to find a calf that would be fully grown at or around that date. This demonstrated foresight and goal setting. The seemingly best training program won't help you compete at your best if you don't peak when you need to. Even if you're not an athlete, you can still prepare for a date on the calendar or a bunch of smaller goals. Look at training as a cycle of building, competing and rebuilding.

3. Training should fit your life.

Milo started by lifting a calf, not a bull. It is almost inconceivable to think of lifting a bull, much less walking while carrying the bull. On the other hand, it is completely within reach to lift a small calf and walk. Milo did not have the physical or mental capacity to lift a bull on the first day of his training, but he had confidence and dedication.

Each day he did not think about how heavy the bull would be or how long he would walk. He just looked at the calf, a calf that looked very much like it did the day before and much the same as it would look the next day. Milo was not intimidated by his training, so he trained as just another part of his daily activities.

Gray Cook is a practicing physical therapist and creator of the Functional Movement Screen. Learn more at GrayCook.com.

Tags: Focus, Goals, Attitude, Training, Motivation, Planning