Okay, first off I apologize for the click bait title. That was manipulative and I feel a little dirty having done it, but I think this is important information and so, I’m not above a little psychological trickery if it gets you to pay attention.
Truth is there are many things advanced lifters know that the rest of us would do well to pay heed. And these five are by no means the most important, but they are important so listen up.
1. It’s not about what you do today it’s what you do this week, this month this year.
No matter how bad ass your workout today is it will not yield noticeable results in the next 24 hours. You won’t gain an inch on your biceps, nor will your abs pop. Your body just doesn’t change that quickly. Noticeable fat loss or muscle gain takes time. It takes repeated exposure to a stimulus to generate change. One workout made up of all the exercises and all the reps just won’t do it.
I’m sorry. I don’t make the rules. That’s just how it is, so stop training like that. You’re going to hurt yourself.
The warmup is a crucial phase of your training. It’s job is to excite the nervous system and get it ready for the work to come. All good warmups involve movement patterns similar to those you’re going to be training that day. At it’s most basic a good warmup for a squat workout would be a few short sets of bodyweight squats or squats with just the bar. The idea is to run your body through the same ranges of motion you’ll be training, priming your nervous system for running those patterns under a more significant load.
But just like many of our movements, like say the squat, involve the entire body your warmup should prime the entire body as well. This is a good time to work ranges of motion you are not so good at. For instance I currently suck at thoracic rotation. A few years of really heavy powerlifting has helped solidify an already not so mobile torso. The warmup is a great time for me to practice that movement pattern and work on increasing my mobility.
3. It’s more about intent than anything else.
The weight on the bar is simply a tool. It’s a vehicle for generating tension and exertion. You can in fact get super strong without ever lifting a weight if you know how to generate tension and exertion.
To get the most out of any lift, regardless of the weight on the bar, the key is to focus your intent solely on the lift and maximize all effort on nothing but the the lift. Bring all of your mental focus to the bar. Try to bring every muscle you can to bear and lift with intensity!
4. Soft tissue work
Foam rolling, lacrosse balls, static stretches, massage, and other methods of soft tissue work are vital to your longevity as a lifter. Hypertrophy, AKA muscle growth, involves micro tears to the muscle itself. The subsequent growth in size and strength is due to the body’s repair of those tears. There is a natural tendency of the body to splint or immobilize damaged tissue. In the event of a major injury this is a good idea, but with smaller more minor injuries it can get in the way of healing and mobility.
Splinted tissues stick together and inhibit blood flow. This dehydrates the tissue and encourages further adhesion. Foam rolling and other soft tissue methods, while not always pleasant, restore blood flow and and mobility which facilitate healing.
Spend five minutes on the Internet exploring fitness memes and you’ll run across more than a few expressing the sentiment that deloading is for pussies and wimps. I posit that if you train consistently for any length of time you will eventually deload. The difference is whether it is intentional or not.
The human body can only withstand so much stress. And while that load may vary across individuals everyone has their limit. Additionally, stress is cumulative. As a massage therapist I’ve seen many a client who came in with a tweaked back or some kind of injury saying, “I just bent over to pick up the mail!” That little nothing that set of all this pain? That’s just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
So it’s really your choice. You can deload when you want to or when your body makes you. Personally, I prefer to set my own schedule.
To our perfect imperfection,