Good Morning NW Fitness Family! This week's blog is going to tackle the topic of training intensity; when to sell out and go max effort, and when to throttle down, and why.
Usually when a client shows up to the gym, after hi-how-are-you's and the exchange of pleasantries the first question I'll ask them is how they slept the night before. The thing we need to understand about training and lifting weights is that the gym is not where muscle is built.
"But Chris, I'm huge after the gym! How am I not building muscle?"
What you're referring to is the blood supply in the muscle. The blood is in that muscle because it's currently in a state of disrepair because you've been hitting shoulders and arms for 90 minutes. Go home, you're huge already. However, you haven't built any muscle- quite the opposite. Muscle is built during sleep. It's been the body's primary means of recovery for as long as humans have occupied the Earth. If you hit a 60-minute workout hard you've taken that muscle and torn it to pieces. The body can repair it, but only during sleep.
So, going back to the initial client conversation, however, they respond to the sleep question is going to determine how hard we can push things that day. If that client slept like a rock and ate a huge breakfast and is feeling awesome, we're going to look to beat the numbers on last week's workout for that particular body part, potentially by a large margin.
(And because we follow progressive overload and document every set of every lift, it's super easy to plan out. If you aren't doing this for your workouts already- start immediately. Don't be random)
If that client tossed and turned all night or was woken up by a child or pet repeatedly, we need need need to take that into account. By any measure, there's no way that the muscles that were in disrepair were able to fix themselves without sleep, and the CNS probably isn't suited to a day of max-effort lifting. There's a good chance our form will suffer, as well. We can absolutely still work hard, but we need to be realistic about what we can and can't do that day. Overtraining is bad, everyone. A lift we may have taken to an RPE 9 on a fresh day may have to be scaled back to a 6 or 7 on these days (one in the tank vs. three/four)
So how does this apply to you? First thing I'd tell you- be honest with yourself about how
you feel each day. If you know you didn't sleep well, or that the food isn't as strict as you'd like it, that's not the day to set a PR. Live to lift another day. Injuries aren't productive. If you feel great and slept well and have a little extra juice that day- hit it hard. If you aren't keeping track of your workouts either in a logbook or a google doc, start that too. You have to be cognizant of your abilities on both good days and bad. Compare the good days to other good days, and compare the bad ones to other bad ones.
As always, if you have any questions- ask. We're friendly!