Sometimes we get so caught up with the idea of "optimizing" our training that we find ourselves unable to switch gears. You don't have to be at your strongest, leanest, and fittest all the time - in fact, many strength athletes and coaches would argue against it.
"You can't have the peaks without the valleys"
Often times life gets in the way, and unfortunately we may often perceive this as a nuisance or detriment, when in fact life's inconveniences serves as a natural mode of deloading our body from mechanical stress. The downside of course is that life's inconveniences are typically fraught with mental stresses, so we have to manage those too.
Training can be very simple, or it can get very complicated. For most people it should be the former, but also remember that without practice, everything is complicated in the beginning. Acquiring skills and honing requires ACTION and AWARENESS. You must take action, but also be aware of the feedback you get from your body: the nuances of the exercise, the consequence of making mistakes, the systemic impact of the whole workout, the muscle messaging you get afterwards (Stiffness, soreness, pain, etc.), and how you adapt to that feedback. Below is a list of the ACTIONS you must take when developing your training regimen, and the part you should pay most attention to (AWARE).
ACTION - Start with the general approach - try many exercises
BE AWARE - of which ones you like best (you are more consistent when you do things you enjoy)
ACTION - Narrow your repertoire - identify a movement fundamentals checklist
BE AWARE - that when training for strength, the human body expresses mechanical efficiency within a limited series of patterns that serve as the basis for all variants (e.g. Hinge Pattern, it's derivatives include: unilateral DL, Good Morning, Hip Thrust, Glute Bridge, Inverted Plank, Hardstyle Swings, Softstyle Swings, Snatch, Clean, Broad Jump, Sprinting, Sumo Deadlift, Medball Slam, Over The Shoulder Throw / Keg Toss, ....). Start with the simplest form, and master it before experimenting.
ACTION - Train all these movement patterns 2-3x weekly, with undulating intensity
BE AWARE - that there is a minimum effective dose for training adaptions. 2x / week / muscle group or pattern is typical, with 3x / week showing a mild advantage. If you try 3x / week per movement but you find recovery taking a hit, go back to 2x / week. This presumes the presence of adequate sleep, hydration, nutrition, stress status.
Undulating intensity means:
Mon - LEGS: HEAVY, 5-8 reps, 8-10 hard sets
Thurs - LEGS: LIGHT, 12-20 reps, 6-8 sets to fatigue
If doing a third day, start with an extra light day - OR - if you are doing SPLIT TRAINING (i.e. LEGS/CHEST/BACK/ARMS all diff days) then you can have 1 extra FULL BODY day to hit ALL MUSCLE GROUPS. Keep it medium intensity, 3-4 sets per muscle group/movement.
ACTION - Predetermine your light and heavy days
BE AWARE - that when left to make the decision yourself, freedom of choice tends to reinforce your bias. So if you tend to find it difficult not going hard every session, without a set program to follow you may find yourself training every session hard & heavy and be on the fast-track to possible overtraining syndrome, AS WELL AS possibly leave some metabolic training adaptations on the table. If you tend to hold yourself back, then if left to decide you will find yourself likely not reaching your minimum effective training stimulus.
The above suggestions aren't meant for you to "optimally strategize your training periodization protocols" (don't I sound so scientific and smart?)....these are just minimum standards to ensure that the time you invest in the gym pays dividends back to your body and psyche.
Video Key Points:
What is connection?
Connection means connecting the arm holding the kettlebell to your body (i.e. the hips) in order to conduct the force of your hip drive into the bell.
This is the foundation upon which kettlebell swinging works. You cannot create a ballistic swing if you don't have connection, because you cannot launch the bell (i.e. arm) off a surface it was never connected to.
Connection means more power, but it also means lifting safer because it shortens what is referred to in the study of biomechanics as the moment arm.
A moment arm is the length between a joint axis or fulcrum and the line of force acting on that joint.
This is my interpretation of the line of action in a kettlebell swing. I'm not a physics wizard so if anyone else is well studied on lines of action and moment arms feel free to add your take if you feel like there is a significant discrepancy with what actually happens during the swing.
Basically, the longer the line of red dots (moment arm), the more stress the back lever undergoes. Not connecting to the hips also displaces the relative load higher up the spine to the scapula (anchor) increasing the risk of back injury. So example (A) exhibits less risk and less stress, whereas example (B) exhibits more risk and more stress.
It cannot be stressed enough how fundamentally crucial this concept is. If you don't get this concept then you should not be lifting. It's fine if you're working on it, and really it's something you should ALWAYS be working on. But not adhering to this principle makes you a back lifter, and a back lifter is not a safe lifter.
"I'm so unmotivated", "I need a new routine", "I need something different", "I got bored of my old program"...
Do these sentiments sound familiar? I hear this stuff all the time, and it's one of the many things that drive me batty.
I've been training for over 20 years, and I've been training others for just over a decade, so believe me when I tell you I've heard it all. I know how the average person perceives exercise; I know their good habits and I know their bad habits; I know why most people start and stop exercising; I know the success and failure rates; I know what separates them from me. I know this from experience, and I know this from the abundance of exercise physiology, psychology, behavioural, and epidemiological research.
There's always some new article or book that convinces people of the obscure missing piece to their daily regimen that will magically be the one thing that sends them over the top of whatever obstacle(s) have been keeping them back. But I, as well as the scads of coaches who actually work with people one on one (not just write books or articles), know that those who fail to accomplish their goals, whether fitness-based or otherwise - do so because they neglect the fundamentals, the basics - not the nuances.
Fundamentals account for 90-95% of success, whereas nuances are largely unnecessary components of the bigger picture. A machine can be "finely tuned", but it can nonetheless perform its job as directed without fine tuning. Fine tuning just means it does the job with less wasted energy. The irony when it comes to a goal like weight-loss is that wasted energy IS the goal. The less efficient you are, the more energy you expend, and the more weight you lose. In contrast, getting fitter is a process of becoming more efficient at a given task - whether physically (e.g. stronger muscles move weight easier), or physiologically (e.g. more and larger mitochondria and RBC's allow you to use oxygen more efficiently). This is why, in part at least, you find it difficult to maintain your weight-loss momentum from month to month. You've picked all the low-hanging fruit (the easy weight), and now you have to work a bit harder and/or longer to get more weight off.
If you have a fitness goal, which also accomplishes health goals by proxy, you only need to worry about doing the basics, repeatedly, over a long enough timeline to see your goals through, and with the intent of doing so as best you can while acknowledging that you can always improve:
Do NOT worry about silly, dichotomous thinking and biohacking BS such as:
We need to stop this nonsense. These examples are all indicative of behaviour that attempts to circumvent long term commitment to the process, in favour of an easier way to the prize. There isn't one. This is true in life, as well as fitness. For this reason, I find it typical that those who fall for these shortcuts and empty promises of success without effort tend to display a similar kind of half-assed approach to their jobs and home life. Your "new routine" should be seeing your current routine through to the end. Are you bored with progress? If you are bored it's because you're just going through the motions, and in the beginning that was enough to keep you interested. If you're bored it's because you never identified what your goals were, and thus you don't know why you started your routine in the first place. That or you need a reminder - progress is the goal, not entertainment.
How you do fitness, is how you do life, work, and family - "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" - John Wooden
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