Blog Archive

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Cult of Sweat

Had an interesting little exchange with Rory. Wanted to bring it over here, because it brought up some stuff I've been thinking about a lot lately.

Rory wrote that good training includes Blood, Sweat, and Tears. He explains why, and his reasons are all valid.


Sweat bores me. Well, bore might not be the right word. I think sweat gets fetishized in some martial art and physical subcultures. Good training will usually make you sweat, but sweat is not indicative of good training. I've seen (and done) some really stupid/useless things that made me sweat a lot. They were still stupid/useless.

Blood can be indicative that you really pushed the envelope, but it can also be indicative that you tore it. Same thing with tears. I've seen too many instructors who take pride in breaking their students, thinking (or at least, claiming) that they were making them stronger. Really, they were just breaking them.

Mike Perry pointed out once that if your goal is to be really tired, sleep deprivation will work wonders. It doesn't mean sleep deprivation is a good way to train.

Blood, sweat, and tears can be byproducts of good training, but none of them indicate that the training itself was good.

Playing on the edge is great, but falling off it sucks.


Neil Bednar said...

Excellent points. Perhaps Rory was speaking in terms relative to people who are already professionals and known themselves. One of my friends who runs a martial arts and training center said that "fitness is just being really inefficient". I think is hilarious and there's truth there that just because you're sweating doesn't mean your doing anything useful. Granted, never sweating probably means you're not doing anything useful. lol

Jake said...

I mentioned on Rory's blog that Rory himself is probably smart enough to know when the line has been crossed from "good sweat" to "stupid sweat" (or blood or tears).

Not everyone knows where that line is, though.

Yeah, never sweating is probably a sign you're not doing much useful (if you're talking about a physical activity). There's a balance point.

Dan John says that the best way to work on fat loss is to do things you're really inefficient at...echoes of your friend's idea there.

Rory said...

Jake- Your comments, as always, are valid.
I look at the negative space of it. Sweat (or blood or tears) may or may not be good. But the _absence_ of sweat is a sure sign that the training isn't pushing physical boundaries. If people _never_ bleed, no physical risk is being explored and if there are _never_ tears, the environment is designed to protect, not challenge the psyche.
Boundaries have to be pushed judiciously, but this endeavor is all about pushing boundaries.

Jake said...

That's interesting...I hadn't thought about looking at the negative space, but that makes sense. Absence of those things is probably a sign of problems.

Got some thoughts about pushing boundaries as a student vs as a teacher, but I need to hack that out more.