Before you get to this week's reading let me share a piece of information with you that I think is crucial to understanding and having long term success in the gym. Muscle is not the only tissue in your body that is adaptable.
Yeah that is right bro you aren't not just muscle and fat. Jeez I mean do you even freaking lift?
In my mind there are four different tissues I am concerned with when lifting weights: bones, tendons and ligaments, fascia, and muscle. All of which are in one way or another connected and thus influencing each other. Each tissue adapts in response to the stimulus it receives and each has it's own timeline for adaptation.
The adaptation timelines for each tissue are debated on somewhat and I have heard several different timelines from several different people. However I don't really concern myself to much with the specifics I just remember that the more elastic or flexible the tissue the quicker it seems to adapt. This means bone responds the slowest then tendons and ligaments, fascia, and finally muscle.
The reason why I bring this up is because the interplay between each tissues adaptiveness and adaptive speed affects how quickly one progresses or better yet how slowly one SHOULD progress in the gym. The idea here being that you can keep endlessly piling up weight on your lifts in a linear fashion. I guess you could if the only variable was how long it takes your muscle tissue to super compensate after being trained, but in fact each time you train you generate several stimulus-response-adaptation curves with each tissue having it's own. This is not even considering the nervous system or the different qualities of fitness we can hone in no when training.
To put it simply you have to progress at the rate of the slowest adapting tissue or quality. In this case this would be bone and/or connective tissue. So yes you may be able to continue increasing your bench press max every week by a pound or two, but at some point the connective tissues are going to lag behind and shut this linear progression down until they can adapt to the load.
Moral of the story being that you shouldn't get frustrated if you plateau at a weight or a number of reps for a few weeks just consider it conditioning and strengthening for the other tissues in the system.
Alright now that I am down off that soap box let's talk about some great information to improve your health.
The Turkish Get Up is probably the most valuable and at the same time under used exercise in the gym. That is probably because (1) it's hard as hell, (2) it isn't the easiest exercise to learn to do correctly, and (3) you stick out like a sore thumb when the rest of the people around you are flexing their bi's and tri's in preparation for swimsuit season.
Don't get me wrong I love myself some direct arm work as much as the next bro, but I think it should be earned and no better way to earn it then by throwing down a kickass exercise like the Turkish Get Up. This piece focuses more on some of the nuances of the exercise, but it also has a couple of great videos demonstrating the exercise in it's entirety.
Ladies just read it. Trust me most of you need and want to hear this.
We all have probably heard at one time or another the phrase "instant self gratification." Yeah think of a dollar McChicken in less than 5 minutes. That about sums up the meaning of the phrase. But this kind of pleasure seeking behavior can also be seen in the gym. It's the reason why, as discussed above, most of us would rather get an arm pump on then get down on the floor and stumble our way through a new exercise. The elbow flexion and extension exercises give us an immediate sense of accomplishment and progress.
While in that example the practice seems rather harmless in other cases it can be down right disastrous. Such as someone trying to deadlift 2x bodyweight in record time instead of just focusing on honing in their hinge and getting in good quality time down at the bar and allowing the strength to come in time. This piece does a great example of talking about how we should be training with the long term view in mind, not just the immediate future.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training