Earlier this week I shared a post (here on Instagram, Facebook) in which I discussed my decision not to do a final set of deadlifts from my workout. And it exemplifies the importance of humility in exercise – something I’ve learned is incredibly important if you don’t like being injured.
It’s easy to push yourself to the end and finish your reps no matter what. Trust me, it is.
I had done that for many years when I was younger. The process was always the same. During my workout, I would start to get tired and notice I was no longer doing each rep with proper form. But, either due to my own personal desire not to let the workout “beat” me, or to give up in front of the other people training with me, I would keep on going.
Sure, I would finish the exercise. But I would usually be painfully sore for the next few days – and not the good kind of sore that says you had a good workout, but the bad kind of sore; the one that means you don’t do other workouts because your shoulders are in too much pain, or your lower-back hurts too much to bend over.
Completing your workout in those types of situations is good for your mental fortitude, but it sucks for your body. It means that in addition to the minor muscles pulls you have to recover from, you’re also forfeiting the gains of the workouts you can’t do while you’re recovering.
It took years of experiencing these annoying minor injuries to decide that I wasn’t going to do it any longer. And now that I don’t do that anymore, I rarely get injured in my workout – but only because I recognize the point at which my body can no longer benefit from the workout.
How can you tell when you’re reaching that point? Simple.
When you notice that you are no longer capable of completing the rep / exercise with proper technique, you stop – either for good, or to reassess.
Notice that I said “no longer capable”. Very often we tend to get LAZY in exercise, and the reason our form goes bad is because we’re not focusing hard enough. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about when your muscles are so fatigued that they are no longer working. At THIS point, you need to stop. Otherwise, injuries are VERY likely happen, either from (1) straining of the fatigued muscle, or (2) improper movement patterns that happen as a result of your body compensating for the fatigued muscle.
This does not lead to long-term growth in fitness. And that’s what we’re here – the long-run.
LAZINESS, on the other hand, is recognizing that you have the ability [to finish your workout], but not the desire. TOUGH. SHIT. If you’re not exhausted yet, if your body is healthy, and you still are completing reps with good form, then you need to get back in there and finish what you started.
Growth happens when we do more than what we were previously capable of doing.
If your only goal when working out is to “check the boxes”, you’re not going to get stronger, your body composition isn’t going to improve significantly, and you won’t notice all of the other incredible benefits that come from exercising regularly.
Don’t be lazy. But also don’t be an egotistical idiot and finish every workout every time no matter what – unless you like being injured.
And now… on to my weekly focuses.
Fitness focus: Bulking
I’m still in bulking mode, and I’m happy to say that, for the first time, I’ve had a successful bulking experience. My weight is up ~8 pounds from what it used to be (even before I was sick in May), I’m able to follow a more demanding training schedule, and I’ve noticed my energy increasing as well. Having a [really] low body fat percentage was great for muscle definition, but it was killing my performance. I’m glad that I learned what I needed to and applied it to my training.
Music I’m listening to: The 80’s
Who doesn’t like the 80s? Great morning, driving-to-work music.
Product I’m enjoying: Barbell Pad (for Barbell Hip Thrusts)
I first saw my friend & trainer, Paul Monje, do these exercises a couple of years ago. Since getting back into a more consistent weight training program, I wanted an exercise to hit my glutes and hamstrings that didn’t cause as much stress as deadlifts (although I still do deadlifts, and recommend them). The Barbell Hip Thrust seemed like a logical exercise. But I needed a pad to do that, so I got this cheap one off Amazon. Want to see a good demo of the exercise? Click here..
Book I’m reading: Un-Label
This was a fun read. It’s an autobiography of Marc Ecko’s meteoric rise as a designer and leader of a $500 million clothing lifestyle brand. The thesis of the book revolves around the importance of authenticity in your business. It’s a good story, and has some good lessons as well.
Personal Struggle: Always needing to be doing something.
I’m almost always doing something productive. And if I’m not, I feel guilty. This is great for running errands, keeping the house clean, and finishing busy work, but it often gets in the way of the more important tasks – (1) priority work; those big tasks that really drive what I do – and – (2) having fun, connecting with people, and relaxing.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Off the Mat! Thank you for reading.
It’s a chance for you to see me putting into action the practices and habits that I’m asking you to do for yourself, to show you that what I’m talking about in my emails, blogs, and on social media is exactly the same stuff that I’m doing on a daily basis in my own life.