There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person. ~Rumer Godden, A House with Four Rooms
A week or two has passed since we have put out an article, video, motivational, or inspirational post. This is not due to being lazy or not having a topic to write about, but rather due to the first responsibility we have; making sure our home athletes are taken care of. Lots of athletes with lots of different things going on (since most are not full time athletes and have to juggle school/work, life, and a hardened training regime).
But in making sure they have modified programs, if need be, a similar theme has popped up multiple times. While I have talked about this before, I think a little more in-depth explanation and information could be useful to all.
Every time I talk about how it feels to get into a structured program, I think about this meme:
We tend to come up with an idea, set our minds to it, and push through until something gives (usually, it is not the muscle soreness that gets us, but rather an ache or pain deeper in the body). The problem with this route is that it becomes similar to Johnny Manziel’s football career, you think it is going to be awesome and then it is over in a flash. You hit it hard for the first 8, 4 week cycles, but now you are out with knee, shoulder, or lower back issues and you are not sure why, because, for the most part, you followed the program…
Accessory work is key
I know the last thing you want to think about doing after 5 sets of 5 squatting is doing something else with your legs, but the fact of the matter is that just squatting leaves us with some imbalances that need to be corrected by other motions. Think of accessory work as the Goose to your Maverick (main lifts), sure they can work separate, but it is a lot smoother when they are together.
While skipping the accessory work is done often, due to time constraints, being fatigued, or just not feeling it, overtime this can produce very large imbalances and lead to decreased performance on your main lifts or even the inability to perform these lifts (assuming your accessory work is there to rehab/prevent further injury). Lifting heavy is cool, but being able to lift heavy for more than 3 months is even cooler. Remember, this process is not a sprint, but rather a marathon (with many hills), so make sure you are in it for the long haul.
Advice: Know your workout before you get into the gym, make a game plan for the time your have, and make sure to get everything done.
This is a very large topic, but there are a couple of key points to look at:
Look to your athletes with kids for the most motivation:
-They have this thing figured out. They have a job, a house, kids (usually with multiple sports), full weekends, and very little free time; and yet, they come in day after day and get their training in….
This is where I pull my inspiration from, the fact that they have this attitude of
You can be tired, but you don’t get to quit.
–They are also the perfect example of something I picked up while at a seminar with Zach Schluender:
Alter your training in stressful times:
The idea was simple, draw a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper, and put the word performance in the center. Now draw a bunch of lines originating off of this central circle, and at the end of these lines write down a commitment that you have (i.e school, work, family, house, bills, food prep, financial, dogs, kids, t-ball, ect.), make sure to make a line for each commitment in your life. Now look at it, look at everything that you have to do on top of training.
His point was simple: If things in your life other than training are calm, then performance will be amazing, you will hit PR’s, and you will be on top of the world. When you have a busy schedule at work, lots going on at home, and some financial issues; performance might slack a little due to fatigue, mental state, or a little of both.
The overlying point being: Everyday is not going to be the best day in the gym, so when you feel good, push the boundaries of your body, and when you are beat up and just down in the dumps, come in and hit what you can, because that is all you have to give today and that is good enough!
The “PR Everyday” mentality:
I was training the other day, and overhead someone sarcastically mention “You don’t PR everyday anymore” after explaining to them my new program to try and rehab some of my weaknesses and injuries.
The fact is, I do PR everyday, but not in just a numbers sense (because, think about it, if I put 1 kg on my snatch and clean and jerk every single day, that would be impossible, but also make me a work champion in something around 120 days…)
I simply use this phrase to give props to my athletes in the gym and to myself, as a boost of moral. You might come in one day and PR a 3 sec. pause at the knee snatch, now this could be 15kg below your actual snatch, but is this still not a PR? Have you still not improved on something technical that will make you better in the long run? Or maybe you came in and were able to squat 60kg/135lbs after being out with an injured back for 3 months, now this might be 20kg/45lbs less than your all time best, but is this not a post-rehab PR? Should you not be praised for pushing yourself to recover and get back in the game?
So, while I don’t mean pushing your weights everyday, I think the PR Everyday mentality is an awesome way to come in and be able to walk away from a training session with a sense of accomplishment, which in turn can help you feel a little more at-ease even when you have a very busy schedule outside of the gym!
Mobility and Meditation
Now before you lose your mind and think “I ain’t into that hippy nonsense”, let me assure you that meditation is not always full of humming and heavy breathing, but more so can be whatever you want it to be (used as a way to calm your mind and CNS, a way to get a deeper relaxation that we don’t get on a normal day to day).
Meditation, in many of my clients, ranges from getting a massage in a quiet place or taking a bath with candles to finding a quiet space during work and sitting or praying before bed. With everything we have going on, with all that we busy ourselves with, it is surprising that more people don’t go “postal” (a term coined in the 80’s from a string of postal workers getting a little overwhelmed and turning to not-so-conventional methods of handling stress).
So try it out. Find a place of your choosing, a place that you feel comfortable and at-ease, try it just for 5-10 minutes at a time (everyone has 5-10 minutes, I can assure you that), and just relax, switch everything off and just breath for a couple of minutes. The worst things that can happen as a result would be:
- You feel less stressed throughout the day, resulting in a more pleasant feeling of being alive
- You are more pleasant to be around, therefore making new friends and getting invited to things
- Your training sucks less, because you can get more sleep knowing the world will not explode if you don’t busy yourself for every waking moment of the day
- Because you sleep more, your body is able to recover, your cortisol levels drop, and the world comes into balance.
I think the side effects might be worth the risk of trying it out…
Check out some of these websites for a little more in-depth explanation and some guided meditations:
I know, the word strikes fear into the hearts, and sometimes, like many coaching cues, is just thrown into a sentence; “Coach, my shoulder hurts”, “Go mobilize it in the back” and nothing is done because the athlete is now confused on what to do (unless previously shown).
The definition of mobility is simple: to move freely and easily
In terms of joints, this would mean that we are able to utilize full ROM without weight pressing or pushing us into this against our will (i.e if you have every witnessed someone use a bench suit). The goal is that no ROM be out of reach (unless some type of injury or impingement is present) and that we are able to hold proper posture in all given positions.
I myself, as well as the gym, follow a program known as ROMWOD
(link above gets you a 2 week free trail)
We have it available at the gym, and it works wonders to get in 20-45 minutes of mobility daily and allows you to target the areas that you need help in (hips, lower back, shoulders,ect..). The best part about ROMWOD, is that the modifications are easily obtainable in all poses and they go over breathing work as well (that whole meditation thing you thought about doing after reading earlier in the blog but have since forgotten about…).
Another option is to go to a yoga class focused around athletes, of which we do twice a week (Monday nights at 7:15 and Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m). Now I know those times might be hard to get to, but it is cheaper than massage and can have many of the same benefits, it just depends on how much time and effort you want to put into your recovery.
The third option, is to spend a couple 5-10 min. sessions a day hanging out in poses to help your problem areas (for me it is my hips, so I hang out in frog, pigeon, seated straddle, etc..). This takes as little time as you blocking off the same time frame each day (as much as you can) and finding that quiet space and sitting in a pose for a little bit, then getting up and going about your day.
Lives are stressful, it happens to all of us. No one person can fully understand another struggles, nor should they be expected to. However, the fact of the matter is that we can all find time during the day that is unused (whether is be 10 minutes or 60 minutes) and use it to take care of ourselves.
Doing this is how you learn to have a long career in lifting. Doing this is how you learn much about yourself through introspection. Doing this is how you become happy and learn to brush the little things off because life is not always that bad.