As coaches we know that progressive overload matters if you want to get stronger or fitter. We build this into your programming at The Wild Movement so that in the long term you get the results you are after.
However – There is a time when the variables that largely make up progressive overload really don’t matter!
When you find yourself thinking that conditions aren’t ideal for training and you should ‘probably just skip it’ is when intensity and volume don’t matter.
Let’s say you have been sick and you know you won’t be able to train as you would be able to when you were rested well and healthy.In this instance it’s easy to think there is no point because the intensity (amount of weight on the bar as a % to your heaviest for 1 rep) will be too heavy or the volume (sets and reps) will be too taxing.That may just be the correct thinking – its not always wise to try and push yourself so hard when the recovery metrics aren’t there.
When it’s ‘go hard or miss a session’ there is a sweet spot in between that produces long term success
What we do suggest though is to simply disregard the numbers, put on your training clothes and tick a box for the day.
So many of our positive habits and behaviours are anchored by our training and these don’t know the difference how ‘hard’ we push – they just need it to happen for us to keep the momentum going.
So next time you want to skip the workout or go the extreme other end of the habit that you want to do because conditions aren’t perfect ask yourself can you simply turn up, complete your work with perfect form and tick a box you can be a little better overall come tomorrow?
Being in the fitness industry now for over a decade I can confidently say that the large majority of people that I talk to would like to be at least a little leaner.
This is the result of so many different things including (but not limited to): how we are educated around health and wellness, the medical system (not health) we have, the conflicting interests of ‘health’ and supplement companies, the time pressures we face in the 21st century and mainstream media to name a few.
This epidemic of our populations being overweight may be contributed to by the above but then on an individual level it seems to always come back to the notion that what we are eating is the problem and is making us overweight and unhappy.
Although I am not here to say that what we eat does not in fact have a physical and psychological effect on our bodies – I am here more to say that there’s a deeper rooted problem than just eating too much.
Our problem isn’t food..
What we need to understand is that our beliefs affect our thoughts, which affect our emotions, which affect our actions.
You can think of eating as the end of the chain – our actions. This means our eating is affected by our emotions, which are affected by our thoughts, which are affected by our beliefs.
So if we go back one level to our emotions it becomes clear that what we eat (the actions we take) is affected by how we feel. I’m sure you can connect to this notion. Perhaps when you are feeling down you reach for something that makes you feel happy (quick serotonin hit). On this level we should be looking at all the parts of who we are.
We all spend a large amount of time working so it makes sense that if we are not happy with our work our emotions will lead us to eating not aligned with how we would like.
This is the same with our relationships – intimate and not. If these aren’t in order and making your life better than it is likely you won’t be eating well.
It’s not just about food..
This also brings me to the point that although everything that affects our emotions are going to affect our actions, I believe that this lack – be it connection, fulfilment, alignment or any other disconnect with your life is actually going to play just as big a role in your overall health as the food itself anyway.
If we want to go right back to the root problem (always a good idea) instead of just dealing with the superficial band aid of ‘eating better’ we come up against our beliefs. Who am I? What am I worthy of? What is my place in the world?
These existential questions that place us in the world are largely answered by our child selves. The problem is they are often not updated to help us as adults.
A good place to start is to bring awareness to how you are feeling when you reach for the food. Is it a void that you are trying to fill? Is it boredom? Sadness? Even happiness we celebrate with food and drink in our culture.
Once you start getting some awareness then look for some patterns and look at the areas of your life that you could be more satisfied with and start taking some small steps to head towards a more positive place in these areas.
We all know that the salad is probably better for us than the burger and chips so let’s work towards understanding ourselves on a deeper level.
If this article resonates with you please share it to anyone that you think it may help. We want to help more people feel their best in a sustainable manner.
Written by Luke Sharp, Owner of The Wild Movement.
Most gyms will advertise how their sessions are ‘always different’ or have ‘variety every day’. The rationalisation is to ‘keep the body guessing’. This concept can work in the short term, especially if your training level is very low, but what will work better for everyone in the long term is following a system. The system in strength training is called periodization. This really just means organising and planning your training ahead of time.
This system will allow us to be systematic in nature to ensure we are forcing the body to adapt to more work over time. The only way to do this is to keep many of the variables the same (such as exercise selection) and increase one prescription variable such as load, volume, range of movement or density. If we change everything to call it ‘keeping the body guessing’ we lose the approach of building one layer upon the next. The biggest key element to you being in the best shape of your life is being the strongest you have been relative to your body weight. If you increase your 5 rep max squat or your 5 rep max dip to the highest it’s been at a consistent body weight you can almost guarantee you are in the best shape of your life. There is no chance to do this without some level of progressive overload.
If you are training by yourself – a training journal should be a staple
Following some planning to get ongoing results doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing for months on end. Psychological factors are also important to take into account. We use 4 week blocks which we find is a happy medium for those that are less comfortable with change and those that tend to get bored. Four weeks allows us to learn the movement and feel it out in week 1 and then build upon it for three more weeks. The next block will then change all the assistant exercises and often change the main exercise slightly – say from a back squat to a front squat. Each 2 blocks (8 weeks) we retest all our main movements to get objective feedback on what we are doing. 90% of the time our members see themselves get stronger. The outcome? More empowerment and more buy in. This just breeds long term success.
If you want to know more about our system of training (not just exercising) then please send us a message or email. You may think ‘I’m not ready for this training’ but I guarantee we can scale it to you so you can progress safely over time.
Although we don’t market ourselves as a gym that’s about aesthetics – the large proportion of clientele that come to us (and any gym) still would like to lose body fat and possibly gain some muscle. A big problem in today’s society, that is being played out by the fitness industry so well is that people have been told that they need to exercise more and eat less to lose weight. It is true and there is indisputable evidence to show that energy in versus energy out needs to be swinging the right way to lose weight (or gain weight). However this truth has also led us astray in how we go about it which is affecting our ability to be lean the way we would like long term.
The problem stems from the fact that we already live in a society that most of us feel is pushing us to do more and be more. More time at work. More deadlines. More pushing through the day with back to back meetings and having no time to eat, let alone take a deep breath or get outside. More pressure to meet the big mortgage repayments to live in the big house that we need. To drive the nice car that we need. So what happens when we believe that we need to start pushing ourselves more by ‘smashing ourselves’ at the gym?
What happens is that we join a gym and have this association that the more we sweat, the higher our heart rate, the more we are sore, the better our weight loss will be. This may get us some short term wins (great!) but in the long term all we are really doing at this point is:
Adding more stress and more feeling of pressure to our already long list of pressures
We are putting band aids on the root problem
We are trying to make up for lost time (not possible)
The main problem with the above approach is simply we don’t have the foundation to support this type of training where the goal is to ‘flog’ yourself. The foundation of consistent quality sleep (7-9 hours), of stress management and of sound nutrition. When we don’t have the above foundation solid and we add in regular intense training to lose weight the result is normally one that doesn’t stay for long.
So what is the solution? Moving and training is obviously a good thing. Living in extremes is not (long term). The approach we encourage our new clients to take:
Start with 2-3 Strength sessions per week. We do a thorough initial consultation and then ensure they start conservative on their strength numbers so we can progress over time.
Know that most of our adaptations happen from the strength training and not from how much you were out of breath the whole session.
Focus on 1-2 habits with nutrition or sleep or stress management to start building the foundation whilst introducing training without the training overtaking your life.
Once the above habits are who you are then the next steps can be looked at.
Setting some clear expectations of where they would like to be in 2 months and one year from now.
Knowing that small consistent steps daily are much more powerful than big jumps away from who you are weekly or monthly.
By turning around the focus from having to do more and ‘smash one self’ to actually only encouraging a couple of sessions per week to start and then putting in extra effort into building the foundation allows the client to change their environment and make sustainable changes.
We have used this method from when we opened our doors almost three years ago and is why many of our clients who “weren’t gym people” are still with us three years later and have completely changed their beliefs and feelings around who they are and what they are capable of doing.
If you would like to know more or start changing your life and health you can book in for an initial consultation and 2 trial sessions on us. You can do this by clicking HERE.
The reason for writing this short blog is to highlight that one is never down and out. There is always a way to better health, it’s just about looking for the answers and asking the right questions.
Justin George emailed me in August 2018. He had been working with Emrys Goldsworthy, (Musculoskeletal therapist) for some months to help work on ‘a bad back’ that had been presenting with symptoms of sciatica pain. He had a disc bulge at 21 (at the time of reaching out Justin was 37) and herniated the same disc at 31.
From the above Justin was living in pain, which didn’t help his mental health but was fearful and didn’t feel ready to do any strength training for almost a decade.
I had a good relationship with Emrys and often referred clients to him. I am thankful of his tremendous work he does as Justin trusted him when Emrys told him he was ready to start focusing on getting stronger.
Justin went through the extensive steps we use when someone is looking to train with us and from that we got some conservative basic starting points.
There were no red lights in terms of mobility. The major things we were working around were his history of disc problems, his fears around strength training and just his lack of training in the past. His major goals were to increase strength and also positively change his body composition.
Some conservative benchmarks when we started was a Bench Press of 45kg x 8 reps and a Goblet Squat of 20kg x 8 reps. Justin also had an inbody scan early on since body composition was a goal and he weighed in at 95kg and 32% Body Fat.
Justin has now been training for over 12 months. It has been a total pleasure seeing his transformation of physical health, his willingness to learn and his sharing of his mental health.
Just like anyone else with any success the graph is never linear. There have been ups and downs as he and we have worked through different problems together. The important thing to note is the consistency that Justin has had over that year. Like with most things Justin does he goes all in and is approaching 250 sessions with us. From that hard work, day to day or week to week might seem like it’s not always moving forward but when we look at the bigger picture now Justin is:
Down to 86kg at 21 % (9kg Body weight down and 10% body fat down, 2kg of muscle up.
Back Squatting sets of 80kg for 8 reps instead of 20kg Goblet Squats.
Bench Pressing sets of 62kg for 8 reps instead of 45kg
Deadlifting without pain
Learnt the Clean and Jerk and Snatch (two most technical exercises you can do with a barbell)
Been progressing and learning handstands
Fully immersed himself into our community and is now even Head of Social Events for The Wild Movement!
Justins Body Composition changes over time. The graph bottom right shows Percent Body Fat and Total Muscle Changes. He was actually heavier than this when he started too.
I hope from reading this it gives you some hope where their may be little. One of the hardest parts is reaching out and trusting a professional (especially in the fitness industry) when you have been living in pain for a long time. I’m grateful Justin did and I’m looking forward to where the journey evolves to.
If you want to have a chat about whether our Pack Strength training is right for you please feel free to contact us HERE.