January 22nd, 2011
by Mike T Nelson · Filed Under: Bigger Muscles (Hypertrophy) · Gym Movements Biofeedback
Bit by bit, the pyramids were built (source)
As I was reading the follow up comments to Frankie’s post An Open Letter to Member of The Movement (if are easily offended, don’t read it and complain to me; you have been warned), it brought up something I have been thinking about a ton lately.
Am I helping people get better in the gym or am I making myself FEEL better?
Are they mutually exclusive?
Commercial Gym Training 101:
Some days when I go to a commercial gym (which is only about once per week since I normally train in the awesome Extreme Human Performanc Center: aka my cold garage), it is hard to not think “wow, they could be doing so much better.” How arrogant of me, I know, but stay with me.
Here is a story you will hear time and time again. I get to the commercial gym yesterday and luckily I remember my headphones since the music there is horrible (loving the last CD from the band Ventana by the way), and I am part of the way done when out of the corner of my eye I see a guy struggling on the flat DB bench from rep 2 all the way to rep 12. His arms were shaking leaves on a tree in a tornado, his face looked like someone made him drink raw lemon juice with no chaser, and I thought for sure he was going to blow a vein in his head.
Lifting should not be that hard. I am not advocating pink DBs for all now, but the goal is provide overload in 3 ways: 1) more weight 2) more volume (weight x reps) or 3) better density (volume/ time). The goal is not to blow vessels in you head. You bicep will not magically get bigger when that happens.
If you provide overload however, the body has NO choice but to adapt in that direction with more strength and bigger muscles.
Nobody sets up their work thinking “Oh boy. I want to set up my day so that I am just toasted by the end of the day!”
Their goal is to accomplish as much work as possible, with the lowest cost (still feel good at the end of the day).
While you can’t see it, virtually every gym has an invisible force field that sucks out the frontal lobe of your brain as soon as you step through the door. If you enter a Planet Fitness, you get your whole brain taken out, so stay away from that place. Although I hear if you attempt to perform some illegal deadlifts there it shows you were able to block the force field, and hence will be kicked out anyway.
Stay out of Planet Fitness or risk losing this! (source:wiki)
Everyone (out there, not here) in the gym is convince that how hard you TRY matters.
I call BS on that.
What you DO and HOW you do it matters most. Remember that whole overload concept?
If you feel like it was brutally hard, that does not change how much weight you actually lifted.
Heck, I can apply the same thing to my own training looking back. I slap my forehead like Homer Simpson and yell “Duhhhhhh!” “What was I thinking?”
“Was I even thinking?” So I am far from immune to it.
The goal is overload, NOT the feeling of trying really hard.
Is your training going the wrong way? If so, stop! (source)
I can put you on a BOSU ball and you will FEEL like squating with a light weight is hard. It does not make it better. Quite the opposite –you just decreased overload. Wrong direction. Stop. You are going the wrong way.
Better Is the Goal
Let’s flip back to my question now of “Am I helping people get better or am I making myself FEEL better?”
Am I more married to how I feel about interactions with people looking to add more muscle, more strength and less fat than their result?
I used to try to explain to people from second one when they talked to me about their training about how wrong I thought not just part of it all of it was – ALL of it!
Oooops. What was the result of that interaction? I FELT better, but did I change THEIR behavior for the better? Nope.
Plus I am not young enough now to know everything!
If I am results based, how much was I actually helping them? Not much as they were in the gym doing the exact same thing.
If I am truly committed to “results first” I had to admit to myself that I was not seeing any results from my method, even though i felt good at the time doing it! I FELT like I was making a difference that I was telling them the truth! Maybe, but did I make a difference?
My entire goal now is to just get them to be a bit better (thanks Frankie and Adam), over how I feel about it.
Better, Bit by Bit
If someone has never gone to the gym, better is just getting them to the gym; even if they do extremely crazy, stupid stuff there. Now that they go to the gym, maybe I can get them to stay off the darn BOSU ball for a one exercise. Perhaps I can get them to eventually test one exercise.
I always struggle and feel like I need to get them to something better faster, but I really just need them to be a bit better, day in and day out. Even if that includes doing other things that may not be best. Overall they are moving in the right direction, and that matters most.
“Our job is to only point them towards better” -Frankie Faires
Just like the pyramid in the photo at the top, bit by bit each stone is laid in the correct position. It may not seem like much at the time, but over years the result is massive.
Each PR (personal record) is one step closer. Another stop in the correct location on the path towards your goals.
What do you think? Am I doing the right thing? Let me know by posting a comment
Mike T Nelson