F.I.T. Blog

How to Train by Listening to Your Body

If there is one thing I believe about training, it should be fun.

For any of you who have ever had a strength coach, you may question the version of fun we have versus your definition of fun.

But, think about a time you got done with a really tough training session. You were tired, already getting a bit sore but felt almost superhuman. Like you had just amassed superpowers due to your efforts at the gym.

That is freaking fun! I mean seriously, who doesn’t want superpowers?

That is the kind of fun I am talking about.

Now, here’s the deal. Far too many of us, myself included, treat training like a punishment.

“I ate like crap last night, I have to work it off at the gym today.”
“My weight went up from yesterday so it’s time to hit the treadmill until I burn 1000 calories.”
“I’m not strong enough yet so I need to crush my soul today. That will get me what I want!”

Sound familiar?

In essence, what we are doing is taking the fun out of training by acting like robots. Our actions from the day before can’t be reversed simply by burning off the calories we consumed.

Nor can we just push our sessions to the max each and every day without consequences.

Our bodies are just not that simple. The current culture of fitness has tried to create this oversimplified world where we should expect results if we just follow that macro plan or this strength program “to a T”.

The result is we have stopped listening to our bodies. What we forget is our body and more specifically our nervous systems are WAY smarter than we could ever fathom.

We will call it autoregulation, as it’s our brain listening to what our body is telling us and responding accordingly. If we are thirsty, we drink. If we are hungry, we eat. And, if we want to train, let’s find a way to train and enjoy the process of it!

Understanding this is much easier with an actual example so let’s take a workout and compare it to an autoregulated version:

Standard Squatting session

Prescribed Warm Up focused on core lift: Squats

Back Squat

Empty bar + 2 warm up sets – 5 reps, 5 reps @ 50%, 5 reps @ 65%
Working weight – 3 sets of 5 reps @ 75%

Belt Squats

1 warm up set – 10 reps with light weight on belt
Working weight – 4 sets of 8 reps – heavier weight than last session

Reverse Lunges

Working weight – 3 sets of 10/side – heavier weight than last session

Superset w/ Single Arm DB Rows

Working weight – 3 sets of 10/side – heavier weight than last session

Autoregulated Squatting session

Warm Up focused on core lift: Squats
** If you know what you struggle with in the squat, work on activating those areas**

Back Squat

Empty bar – As many sets/reps as needed to feel a good pattern
2 warm up sets – 5 reps @ 50%, 5 reps @ 65%
Working weight – 3 sets of 5 reps, start at 70%, assess how if felt afterwards. If 3rd rep felt less than a 7-8/10 on the difficulty scale, add weight. If 3rd rep felt like 8/10 or more, stay there

Belt Squats

1 warm up set – 10 reps with light weight on belt
Working weight – 2 sets of 8 reps – heavier weight than last session, 2 sets of 45 sec – as many reps as possible

Reverse Lunges

Working weight – 3 sets of 10/side – weight where you can maintain tension in trunk and hips through entire range of  motion

Superset w/ Single Arm DB Rows

Working weight – 3 sets of 30 sec/side – focus on activating and finding your lats

In the Standard Squatting session, everything is set in stone and linearly progressive. This isn’t wrong. Sometimes this is necessary. And early on with someone just starting to learn how to train, this will work well.

However, it eliminates the one thing that is always in control, our nervous system, specifically our peripheral nervous system. (Don’t worry, we aren’t going into the intricacies of that today.)

We all understand that we have 5 senses. Taste, smell, touch, listening and sight impact how we perceive any situation and how we respond over the course of a day.

The Autoregulated Squatting session takes that into account. Sometimes you come into the gym ready to take a bite out of a 45 lb plate and spit it out. You are the lion today

Other times you come in and wonder if your coach added lead to the bar. That day, you are the lamb.

We have all experienced each at some point and it doesn’t matter what caused you to feel that way, because you are there to train.

By using the Autoregulated approach, you can each get the most out of the session and make it fun so you can do it again tomorrow!

The lion can attack the session, add weight above what might have been prescribed for all the exercises OR crush the timed sets to the point of quivering muscles and take advantage of how the body feels.

And right next to the lion, the lamb can feel it out. If the back squat doesn’t feel great, they don’t need to grind through 75% of a back squat that should NEVER be grindy.

When it comes to the accessory work, maybe the belt squats start to feel good to the lamb and they crank out a bunch of reps during the timed sets. The energy starts to come back and then they go and crush the reverse lunges and rows.

When the session is done, both the lion and the lamb finish feeling exhausted, satisfied they got the most they could out of themselves that day and live to train again. Most importantly, the quality session puts them both in a good mood so they can be better for the people that matter in their lives.

This isn’t a new or novel approach to training. In fact, most of the top strength athletes in the world train this way. They have spent so much time doing this, they know each day what their body needs.

It’s not something most of us are accustomed to but I promise, with an approach like this, you will be happier, healthier, stronger and a shining example of how good training can bring out your awesomeness.

Coach Jared


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