Training hard… giving it your all… applying effort… pulling your thumb out of your ass…
Let’s face it, results do not come to those who haven’t mastered the art of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Your body adapts positively only when it is stressed sufficiently.
Stimuli may come in the form of more repetitions, more sets, greater load, less rest, higher velocity, slower tempo, increased range of movement or even including isometrics. It isn’t difficult to make a training session more challenging, it just means you have to work harder.
The problem is, those that do work hard tend not to take their recovery seriously.
It may sound controversial, but not every training session needs to be hard!
If you have a coach already, then I’d like to hope that the programme they have prescribed you is written in a way that all difficult/intensive/extensive training sessions are followed by easier/less intensive/less extensive training sessions.
It’s simple really…
You don’t have to rest after every difficult session, you just need an easier one to allow your body to recover and adapt.
If you train hard all the time, you’ll inevitably burn out, get ill or injured, lose momentum and motivation.
Stress your body
As always is not quite that simple. Even the best programme in the world, written by the best coach in the world cannot prevent fatigue from accumulating. Particularly concerning general gym-goers, amateur and semi-pro athletes.
Like most, you have a life out of the gym and therefore you are subjected to many forms of stress…
Family related problems
Lack of sleep etc
All of these things negatively influence your ability to recover and therefore perform. Most of the time these factors are out of our hands. No coach can predict them and no coach can prevent them. Life, sometimes, just does a very good job of getting in our way.
The key is to expect the inevitable, and always have a plan B.
Here at Cheshire Barbell, I closely monitor our Gold and Platinum members by having them complete a short wellness questionnaire each time they come into the gym. Although subjective, it gives me a pretty good understanding of the physical and psychological state that my client or athlete is in. To back it up, I’ll also have them perform a series of brief performance tests that are specific to their goal whilst being quick and easy to perform. Examples of this are the countermovement jump test (pictured) and the monitoring of bar velocity during the client’s warm up using a wireless interia sensor.
Should I think that the client or athlete is fatigued following assessment, I simply pull them from their programme.
Conversely, I may push them harder than their programme is scheduled should they demonstrate good results in the assessment.
Knowing when to push and when to pull is essential.
No programme is engraved in stone.
If you feel tired, perhaps have the onset of a cold, you appear less social and maybe had a bad night’s sleep, don’t be scared to pull back. Maybe reduce the number of reps you perform with the prescribed weight or even do less sets.
Don’t skip the gym all together. There is no reason why you can’t put a lighter load on the bar and work on skill or perhaps mobility.
Just don’t push too hard all of the time.
Remember, your body adapts to hard work, but you only recover and notice the improvements during ‘easier’ sessions. For every hard session, follow with an easier one and learn to listen to your body in the mean time.