“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” —Beverly Sills

Success seldom arrives overnight. It comes after months, if not years, of hard work and dedication. The key is to accept that success is a process and that there isn’t any shortcut to the finish. You can go to the best gym in the world, train with the best coaches, use the most expensive equipment and training gear, follow the most strictest of diets, take all the leading supplements, listen to the hardest music, and follow the best training program—and that still won’t be enough unless you train hard.

When it comes to building muscle and strength, there aren’t any shortcuts and there certainly aren’t any miracle drugs that will do this. One of the greatest things about weight training is that it works for everyone. You don’t have to be a genetic freak to notice results from weight training. All you have to do is work hard and stay committed to your program.

When your training is challenged by a heavier load or rapid acceleration, there is a response from the body’s central nervous system (CNS). This response is an adaptation to the stimulus of the training load. The initial response is fatigue followed by a process of recovery and adaptation to that training load. From there, your body will adapt to the stresses of the workout by becoming bigger and stronger than before. This is achieved through the body’s overcompensation to the initial training load. Your body will also become more efficient by expending less energy, reducing the risk of tissue damage, and improving the way it coordinates muscular contractions.


The body’s ability to adapt to training loads and overcompensate explains how training hard works. If the training load isn’t great enough, there is little or no overcompensation. In simple terms, you will cease to get bigger and stronger. However, a loading that is too great can cause problems with recovery, a condition known as overtraining.

Overtraining can be defined as excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training that results in extreme fatigue, illness, or injury (which is often due to a lack of sufficient rest, recovery, and perhaps nutrient intake). Avoid overtraining by developing a training program that consists of careful planning and considers recovery, rate of progression, frequency, volume, and intensity.

The appropriate way to work hard when you train is to constantly challenge yourself. By that I do not mean train to failure every minute of training, but challenge yourself to use better form and concentration toward accomplishing your training goals. Set obtainable goals and work diligently to achieve them.

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss more tips to implement into your training regimen and how hard work can help out in all aspects of life.


Baechle T, Earle R (2008) Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (NSCA). 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

“The Law of Overload” diagram courtesy of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at #.