In our last +1, we talked about The Mystery of the Hairy Fingers and how to alchemize suffering into laughter like a five-year-old. 😜
I briefly mentioned Phil Maffetone and the MAF Test I’m doing these days to track my progress on developing aerobic speed.
Today I want to talk about anabolic steroids. Well, technically I want to talk about the science behind how we get stronger and connect that to a little etymology lesson and then connect that to some overlooked natural anabolic “steroids” in our lives.
So, here we go…
At this stage, we’ve all heard of “anabolic steroids.” They make people super strong. (And a little freaky.)
But, do you know the difference between the “anabolic” phase of training and the “catabolic” phase? Although becoming a certified trainer was one of the first things I did when I started my Optimizing adventures nearly 20 years ago, I couldn’t have told you with precision what those terms meant until I read Maffetone’s Endurance Handbook.
Here’s the short story.
When you work out, you exit your comfort zone and “overload” your body. (Maffetone calls this “overreaching.”) That’s the CATABOLIC phase of training. You’re breaking yourself down. This is, of course, essential for your growth.
Then, after you work out, your body starts repairing the damage you did and, in the process, “overcompensates” and makes you stronger. That’s the ANABOLIC phase of training. You’re building yourself back up. This is, of course, essential for your growth. (In fact, this is actually where the growth occurs.)
We need BOTH to be Optimized. Too much or too little of either and we’re going to run into issues.
Which is why Maffetone incessantly repeats his formula: Training = Workout + Recovery. (He also tells us that we should write that down and look at it every day which is why it’s front and center on my chalkboard these days.)
He puts it this way: “The anabolic aspect of the training schedule involves recovery; and this means getting sufficient rest. Unlike the catabolic gas pedal, the natural anabolic action is likened to the brakes that cause one to stop and take it easy. It allows the physical, chemical, and mental aspects of the body to revive themselves and fully heal. In fact, it’s during this key anabolic recovery phase that the body gets stronger, faster, and builds more endurance.
This anabolic aspect of one’s training schedule—the ability of the body to efficiently recover and rebuild following each day’s workout—is as essential as the actual workout. Not only can it help propel the body towards greater athletic potential, but it can prevent injuries and illness as well.”
(btw: Important note: This isn’t just about training. It’s about LIFE. The Peak Performance guys tell us the EXACT same thing regarding how to avoid burnout. You need to be ON and then OFF. They have their own formula that perfectly mirrors Maffetone’s: Stress + Rest = Growth.)
So… Quick etymology lesson then on to the +1 lesson.
The words “catabolic” and “anabolic” both have Greek origins. Catabolic literally means “to throw down” while anabolic literally means “to throw up.” (Think of a ball being thrown up and down.)
You need both. Up. Down. Up. Down. Repeat.
Now, back to you.
How’s YOUR training? (In the “gym” and in life?)
You pushing yourself hard enough? (But not too hard?)
And, for most of us, more importantly: Are you RECOVERING enough? (Or, are you resting too much?!)
Training = Workout + Recovery.
Training = Catabolic + Anabolic.
Growth = Stress + Rest.
Now, back to the anabolic steroids. We all know they aren’t a wise way to build strength.
But, did you know we all have access to some epically powerful, 100% natural anabolic “steroids” in our lives?
Yep. Super simple stuff like sleep, naps, turning your phone off, meditation, playing with your kids, petting your dog. You know, the stuff that helps you RELAX.
In a world in which we’re CONSTANTLY on the go, it’s always wise to train our recovery and truly rest.
How can you do so a little more today?
Remember the ball. Up. Down. Up. Down.
+1. +1. +1.