What’s on Paper vs. What’s in Real Life & Lifter’s Intuition

 Aside from training our own athletes, most coaches enjoy training themselves as well. It’s fun to experiment on one’s own self, close friends/clients, or others that have been training with you for a long time before implementing something on a larger scale with newer trainees. This is one way to assess the efficacy of a certain protocol, program, exercise, etc. and see just what kind of adaptation it yields. All in all it’s a very logical approach and I too have been experimenting on myself for a while with various new ideas.
However, in our eagerness to evaluate something new, we must not ignore reality and the road blocks life can put in our way. In short – sometimes “life happens” and it messes up your perfectly planned program. This will absolutely confound your ability to assess the new protocol/programs effectiveness. Nonetheless, many of us will force ourselves to stick to the outlined procedure exactly as written despite that our physiological functioning may be light years behind what it was when we first started this new protocol/program.
For example, if you haven’t eaten all day, got 4 hours sleep last night, had your girlfriend dump you this morning, and failed a test at school this afternoon; can you realistically expect to set a new personal record during your lifting session tonight? Should you even bother to test? What if this past month has been full of one life stressor after another and the chronic effects of stress have noticeably caught up with you. This is where biomarkers and monitoring ones program comes into play. The intent for this discussion, however, is less about what to do in these situations but rather simply getting you to appreciate the fact that you should do something about it instead of just ignoring what your body is telling you.
Remember the athlete, who despite obvious injury, convinced his coach he could still perform? As they story goes, it ended up with the athlete going back out on the field only to prove they were in fact injured and couldn’t play. Getting reinjured just solidified that they weren’t ready to compete again despite their psyche. The same goes for lifting. Despite how much you attempt to psych yourself up, if you haven’t taken care of your body lately don’t expect big things, especially if you’ve had objective signs of fatigue or stress.
So in the end, just a simple lesson we can all learn from. Follow your bodies outputs, not what's written on the paper. Monitor and adjust accordingly.

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  1. Well put Sam thank you.  Our bodies have no way of knowing whether we did 10 reps, 11 reps, or 12 reps.  It only knows how well we work but so many factors come into play on a day to day basis.  As personal trainers this is a very important note to make as well.  Working with weekend warrior clients bears the challenge of never knowing what you're going to get.  A client will come in some days raring to go and hit 15 reps on a weight where other days 8 may be a stretch due to other factors (stress, food, sleep, time of the month etc.)  

    Daily mini-assessments become important if we want to continue to get our clients results.

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