I just saw a comment on one of my daily YouTube videos that shook me.
It’s not that it was particularly scary or outrageous… it just reminded me so much of me.
How do you get huge while nursing your body? Is it even possible?
How do you treat that nagging shoulder/elbow/hip/back/etc but still have fun in the gym?
How do you sweat and make your muscles burn when you feel indefinitely injured?
This post is probably the most existential topic I’ve ever covered. It addresses the questions I’ve been pondering the most for the last decade.
Online-educated lifters overutilize bracing.
The demands of a heavy deadlift are different than a high rep deadlift. If you brace every rep on a set of 12, it’s going to take you a minute and a half to finish the set. Plus, you’re spiking your blood pressure more than you need to.
A way to think about it: use as much as you need. Don’t lift 45lbs like it’s 405lbs.
Here are a few videos where I talk through more of the differences.
Have you seen asymmetry in heavy lifts? The bench press where the sternum turns to the right. The squat where the left knee and left elbow stick out to the side. The deadlift stuck over on the right foot.
These happen. Often. If you haven’t noticed them, look out for them. It’s actually pretty cool.
But as a trainer, it’s frustrating. I can’t train you into that asymmetry. I can, but… what good could that possibly do? Now I have to stop you when I start to consistently see that.
But I’ve seen people shift over there almost immediately. I mean, like, rep two out of twenty. They know how to do the exercise, they just can’t. Their brains won’t let them. Why? Because ‘dey scared.
Doing any one thing in particular is unnecessary for your goals, no matter what they are. But doing something is necessary for progress.
- Find a direction.
- Figure out what steps will get you towards there.
- Re-evaluate monthly.
- Stay the course.
- Make every day a win.
Fitness is a bit of an amorphous target. It’s generic. Does it mean cardiovascular fitness? Weight loss? Relative strength? Absolute strength? Weight deadlifted? Flexibility measured? Workout done in x number of minutes?
Is your goal a fitness goal? Or are you just trying out a new training method?
Most people I work with — at least the “regular” people with day jobs — want to be more fit. It would always be nice to be skinnier, stronger, leaner, toner, healthier, smarter, more muscular, more patient, more even-keeled, less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic, less unstable.
But if you want these things, we have to talk about goal setting.
Knees hurt sometimes. It’s okay. Try to improve your form. If that doesn’t work, try a different exercise.
Sometimes our bodies don’t hold up as well as we wish they would. Even just last night I went for a walk and limped the last half of it because of my knee. And I’m 28 years old! (at the time of writing this)
Why is pain such a pain?
I suppose I kind of specialize in training people with achy joints. Specific cues have been important for a lot of my clients. Poor technique can place stress on your body that your mind just doesn’t like.
Ask for help from a coach
So my first piece of advice: when your knee hurts, get a tenured coach to take a look. Their practiced eye might notice something that you haven’t. Fix that issue and see if it clears up.
Now, though I love cuing, I need to tell you a secret: sometimes it ain’t enough.