Last week while lifting in the barn, Val started doing a few warm up sets of deadlifts. She started light, but something was off. She felt a tweak in her lat/back area. Nothing serious, but she didn’t feel great.
Despite all her planning and prep for a deadlift focused workout, she was forced to make a last minute decision.
Her options were:
- Ignore her body, and continue pressing on with the lift
- Walk out of the gym, and say better luck next time
- Modify the workout so she could still be productive without risking
Listen to your body
The programs I write are plans (very good plans!). But, plans can change at a moments notice. Last week’s Azor Ahai is this week’s most hated man in Westeros.
To continually improve and make progress, you must be able to adjust your training to accommodate unexpected setbacks, illness, and stress. Going 100 mph each training session, regardless of how you feel is the quickest route to injury, burnout or stagnation. It also works in the reverse manner – if you feel fantastic, fresh and super strong, push the weight higher. Add an extra set. Strike while the iron is hot. But if you feel like the gas is running low, stop cooking!
There is always something
If you don’t think your body can tolerate a heavy day, back off, do some lighter technique work. Or, work on your hip mobility because that’s always been a problem for you. Or, do some light cardio, because everyone can use a little cardio. Chances are, you probably have many areas you can work on. Take a minute and think of what you could work on and do it. Alternatively, modify the lift by changing the range of motion, tempo or loading.
Listening to your body is not an excuse to slack off or mail it in. I am a huge proponent of effort and hard work. I also don’t advocate quitting under any circumstances. But it all starts with why you train. Are you training to prevent injuries in your sport? Then getting hurt during training cannot happen. Are you training to look and feel better? Then pushing through probably isn’t worth it either. Are you in the middle of a competition and something starts to flare up? I would say this is an appropriate time to say “screw it” and to go for it.
How to test yourself
Sometimes knowing whether to go full steam or not isn’t exactly clean cut as when you tweak your hamstring or feel a new ache or pain. Sometimes, you just feel a bit out of it, but if you push through the workout, you might end up feeling better and better as the workout progresses. How do you know what to do? I like to build in tests right into the session.
I program a couple of sets of med ball throws on upper body days, or jumps or slams on lower body days before any heavy lifting. The purpose of these plyometric drills is to wake up the nervous system, priming it to handle heavy weights later that day. If you are feeling a bit lethargic or out of it, a couple of reps of an explosive movement might be enough to get your body out of its fog. If you aren’t throwing harder or jumping higher after each set of plyo work, you’re likely not ready to go full blast and should modify accordingly.
Back to Val
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