I’ve had countless people come to me with adrenal issues, niggling injuries and a general apathy and demotivation for training. Actually, it’s not just training – it tends to bleed into the rest of their life and sucks the soul out of their personality altogether. But more on that another day..
While a lot of it comes back to poor periodisation and programming – the main underlying issue I see is poor fatigue management.
No, I’m not just talking about getting enough sleep, knocking back your peri workout shakes and hitting your macros. Most of the time, it’s not even about periodisation or program design – though that does play into it.
What I’m talking about is the tendency to chase fatigue in the gym – pushing every set to failure or with the overuse of intensifiers like drop sets, forced reps, rest pause etc, and the disregard for what really matters – performance.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and place to push and for all of the intensifiers – and I absolutely love redlining it – I don’t think there’s anything quite as satisfying as leaving it all in the gym and stumbling out to the car, only to cramp up, collapse and puke in the middle of the parking lot.
But understand this – no amount of work you can do today will ever equate to, or surpass the amount of work you can do across a week or extended training cycle.
There’s a huge component to this that a lot of people overlook – Focusing on Performance and Progressive Overload.
Let’s say you did 8 reps at 100kg on a given exercise last week. This week, you hit your 8, and you feel fresh – and knock out 9 or 10 reps and still have more in the tank. You’ve ticked the box of progressive overload and outdoing your previous performance. Fantastic.
Most people will crank hard at this point – and extend out until they reach complete failure – maybe reaching 15 reps. Fantastic-er – right?
What ends up happening next? You step into the gym next week – and instead of having a manageable goal to hit, you’ve set the bar unrealistically high for yourself, and there’s a good chance instead of getting to 15+ reps – you wind up at 9 or 10 – and fail.
What follows is an ‘unsuccessful’ training session and lowered training morale – which tends to negatively effect the rest of the session and future sessions.
A better option is to predetermine your targets, hit them, and stop. 9 times out of 10, I’m leaving the gym with plenty left in the tank – and I want my clients to as well. Instead of destroying yourself in the gym – strive for consistent progression. If you get an extra rep or two out than the previous week, and you KNOW you had more in you – that will fuel your fire for next week. This builds momentum and motivation, whilst avoiding injury and burnout from redlining every single session.
Just because you’re feeling ‘on’ on a given day, doesn’t mean you should drive yourself into the ground. As satisfying as it may feel, you don’t need that excruciating pump or to be completely wiped at the end of your session to progress.
Don’t Fight for Fatigue – Pursue Performance