Balance in and out of the gym is one of the most important aspects of the fitness industry. This goes for both your programming as well as your day to day life. As far as programming, it is important not to get stuck in one area of training. For example, if a powerlifter only trains the bench, squat, and deadlift, but never does any GPP (General Physical Preparedness) they are leading to injury. Outside of the gym fitness is a passion for many people, but it should not stop you from enjoying your everyday life.
Although in order to compete or make more gains a person needs to specialize, they should never do so to a fault. This is relevant for many people that do CrossFit as they tend to only do the CrossFit workouts, but never do any direct strength or technique work. They just see the people on ESPN and think that they train with a WOD daily, but it is much more strength training before building up endurance right before the competition. Combining strength training and even a bit of hypertrophy can make a large competitive difference for the average CrossFit athlete.
For powerlifting, they often lack cardiovascular ability as well as flexibility. Although recently with more athletes such as Stefi Cohen pushing the importance of flexibility and muscle health, there seems to be a turn happening. There are more athletes competing with ripped physiques and some genuine athleticism. The days of powerlifters being fat, slow, and inflexible are winding down. Flexibility and GPP work are incredibly important to staying healthy and injury free.
This is where the competitors and average lifter will differ. If you’re preparing for a bodybuilding or bikini show, then there is no balance. Competition is not balanced. It’s competition and if you want to be great, then the balance won’t exist at all. However, if you’re just trying to drop 10-20 lbs, then you can go ahead and have the donut, it won’t kill you. Knowing when and how to utilize cheat meals is just as important as avoiding them. Sometimes the weight loss will stagnate and require a bit of a cheat meal. Your body can’t stay in an unfed state forever.
It is also important that you enjoy your life. If fitness takes away from every aspect and has you ruining the relationships around you, it may be time to take a step back and make sure you want this. Then you need to decide if you want to surround yourself with more like-minded people or lay off the gas to stay with your current friends. The most important thing is to make sure you’re enjoying your life inside and outside of the gym.