Training to Failure

Quote Graphic with Person Running Up Hill

One Monday at my gym, the trainers were talking about training "to failure," a concept with which I'm familiar, but the irony in the terminology really hit me as they joked about a contest one witnessed over the weekend where a guy bench pressed 650 pounds and squatted 800 pounds!

Training to failure (it sounds so funny) means you've lifted an amount as many times as you can until your muscles can't produce enough energy to move the weight while keeping proper form.  It's a method some bodybuilders use every time they train, and others use at the end of each set.  Community opinion is divided, but the benefits are clear.  Near the end of the set, as you're approaching failure, all of your smaller muscle fibers become fatigued.  Faced with the continued challenge of lifting, your body is forced to recruit different muscle fibers to complete the rep, and plenty of champions say struggling at your limits is critical for development.  Arnold Schwarzenegger summed up this view when he said, "The last 3 or 4 reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack: having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain, no matter what happens.”

I would argue the same is true for personal development, and one step further, our development at Christians.  Don't quit before you get to those last 3-4 reps.  Comfortable is boring, and safe, and not where you find winners.  If we're not pushing our own limits, we never experience what it's like to trust God to do the things we can't.  If we never reach the end of our own ability, we won't receive the fullness of the gifts that faith in God produces in our, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Every experience is an opportunity to engage activities that God wants to use for our development.  Marriage, parenthood, friendship, career, these are all big ones for a lot of us right now, but the little ones are just as important.  The Bible tells us that the days are evil, meaning we are plagued with fear, pride, apathy, busy-ness, small-mindedness, and a host of other deceptions our enemy uses to keep us distracted from God's work.   What opportunities are you wasting, ignoring or fearing that could be exactly the ones God wants you to make to most of?

Pick a few extra to test your limits, and rejoice when you fail.  Let's see who wins.

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