Recently I asked you guys a question on facebook:
“What would you say is the most valuable thing you know about training that you wish you could tell yourself when you started? There’s no right or wrong answer.”
And the response was AWESOME! Originally, I had planned to write this blog about the importance of learning auto regulation with your own body, but there were so many amazing suggestions brought up in the comments that they definitely need brought up too.
It’s my blog though, so I get to go first.
1. Not learning how to auto regulate
Here’s one often neglected BAD thing about the fitness industry: Too much enthusiasm.
Say what? That’s a bad thing?
I love people that are driven, that will dive in to any challenge head first and give everything they have, but unfortunately for sustainability, going 100% every day will run you in to the ground. It’s not just me getting old & boring and wanting everyone to hold themselves back to avoid injuries – what I mean by auto regulation is knowing exactly when you can push it, when to put the brakes on, and strangely enough, knowing when holding yourself back a bit will mean you’ll actually be able to push yourself further more consistently.
One of the great things about gaining more body awareness, following programs such as the Simplistic Mobility Method, is that you KNOW when something is up with your body – simply by moving it. An injury-preventing preemptive strike really lowers your chances of having to take time off. Imagine if every time you were just about to pick up an injury, someone tapped you on the shoulder and told you to work on a few assistance exercises. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? Your 6 week program becomes a 7 week program that had 1 or 2 mini deloads days when you needed it… and guess what! You won’t lose your gains! You’ll be able to train for that full 7 weeks and then go onto something even more awesome – THAT is knowing how to auto regulate yourself.
But Tom, how do I know if I’m going too hard?
Well young grasshopper, sit down beside yourself and take a good long hard look at how sexy you are, then, ask yourself: Am I motivated for training?
Do you feel tired, like daily life is taking extra effort? Do you feel stupidly hungry? Are your joints are aching (not just your muscles). If answer is yes to any of those then you could be asking a little too much from your body.
Now I’m not saying throw in the towel if you have a tiring day, or take a month off the gym coz you skipped lunch by accident… I’m saying learn to recognise the difference between the tiredness you get from your normal work/school/family/life routine and actual fatigue. Then, once you have identified these warning signs, take the correct action. When I say take it easy I don’t mean lie in front of the TV with 7 bags of crisps (you know who you are), I want you to go through some relaxed movement at home or if your gym allows you to do your own thing go there and chill out: get your muscles working without stress, spend a full session with just a resistance band; like the Banded Core & Movement workout from End Range Training; and open up your hips and shoulders. You don’t need to have your heart rate up and be sweating buckets all the time to have an effective training session. Throwing stuff like this into your training just makes sense, no one wants to train if they feel banged up and broken, and it’s just disheartening if you try to push through it. Taking the time when you need it will set you up for better sessions in the near future. Never be afraid to do training sessions purely to make your body feel good.
2. Comparing yourself to others
This was one of the most commonly brought up comments from you guys and I couldn’t agree more! I think a lot of people experience this one differently. For some, it’s immediate – this crippling comparison to what other people can already do prevents some from starting at all (cue Instagram and it’s amazing ability to (de)motivate). For me, it was a bit more convoluted: I began with so much enthusiasm that I didn’t care, I was happy to be training and I had no real goals or ambitions, then all of a sudden I started getting good at a few things and wanted more. I started to notice people that maybe picked things up faster, or who generally were better at certain things (usually people who’ve been training longer, but that was an unimportant detail) and in my mind it started to diminish my own accomplishments. It’s a good thing to have friendly competition, but if you start obsessing over people with completely different circumstances than your own you’ll end up taking the fun out of everything that you’re doing and ultimately resent training.
I’ve seen it countless times, people pushing so hard, always wanting more, choosing different and more advanced people to compare themselves to as they get better – so much that every achievement they get is never enough and they burn out. Outward focus on anyone else is pointless, I talk about it a bit in my blog You have no idea how special you are. As cliche as it sounds, just try to be a little better than you were yesterday, enjoy training with others and do your best but NEVER let someone else’s progress affect how you feel or what you do. Train for yourself, no one else.
3. Skipping the basics
I think a lot of people all over the world blindly nod and agree with each other: “don’t skip the basics” “have a strong foundation” “focus on the simple things” and honestly… if I ask you what the basics are – can you tell me? (And it’s scary how often you hear “squat, bench, deadlift”)
I’m not saying they don’t have their place don’t get me wrong, but that’s not basics, that’s Powerlifting.
Basics, by Tom Morrison’s standards, is having a body that operates well enough for you to safely do whatever it is you spend the majority of your time practicing.
– Do you know the imbalances in your own body well enough to be able to work on them and spot issues if they start to arise?
– Is your balance the same on both legs?
– Are your feet and ankles strong?
– Can you disassociate your limbs from one another while maintaining a braced core?
– Do both hips and both shoulders rotate the same way as each other without restriction?
– Are both sides of your body relatively equal in strength and not one side significantly more dominant than the other?
There are minor changes in basics depending on what you practice, for example the flexibility differences for yoga and strongman, but the above questions are relevant across the board. When differences start to become too great within your body you start to twist in ways that will murder your joints over time and cause you tons of problems. Make sure you understand these things about yourself and you will have your basics covered.