Last week Clementine and I were at one of our favorite spots, Mount Chocorua. While running down the mountain, I slipped on a rock and landed on my butt. I didn’t get hurt, just wet. It made me think about the different trade-offs we make. This day in particular, it made me think that my lightweight trail running shoes are a trade off of a more traditional hiking boot. I probably wouldn’t have slipped in a more rugged boot, but the trade-off is having the ability to move faster through the varied terrain.

You can make a lot of trade-offs in the mountains for the ability to move faster. We make trade-offs in the gym too. If we want to get really strong, we’re going to trade-off some aerobic capacity or how lean we are. If we want to get really fast, we may need to give up some top end strength. If we want to get flexible, we may need to back off heavy strength training. If we want to get really lean, we need to give up the occasional nutritional slip up for our pursuit.

For some, particularly those who want to get really lean, or get a 6-pack, the trade-off of social norms usually aren’t worth it. To get body fat so low that you have a six pack, you need to give up staying up late, drinking alcohol and skip all the treats loaded with sugar. If you’re willing to hang on to a little more body fat, you can probably to all those things and still get pretty lean, but not as ripped.

No matter what it is, there’s going to be a trade-off. Good programming can help mitigate this, but we aren’t able to optimize something if we’re trying to hold on to something else at the same time. This can be a good thought experiment to try: what are you willing to give up for your goals? 

Justin Miner


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