Our greatest traits as human beings will always be our ability to adapt and our ability to maintain homeostasis. They seem counter to another.
Adaptation means there has been such disruption that change is required.
Maintaining homeostasis means an all out war to resist change, suppress the disruption, and continue the status quo.
And it's these two traits that as someone who wants to change their performance and physique we are the most concerned with.
Adaptation is the trait we seek to use as our ally and Homeostasis is the trait we are always struggling against.
As a coach and trainee myself our goal is to apply a specific stimulus to the body that yields in specific response from the body and given enough nutrients and time that response will result in the desired adaptation.
We follow this logic when we lift weights, run long distances, follow specific caloric and macronutrient recommendations, and stretch our muscles.
Yet so many of us seem to be not adapting and are frustrated by the lack of results we are experiencing from our training programs.
I believe the reason for this is rather simple, but many aren't going to like it.
YOU JUST AREN'T TRAINING HARD ENOUGH.
Trust me I understand that there are other factors involved in this process such as sleep, nutrition, quality of programming, and stress management, but I continue to see again and again the simple fact that many who think they are giving sufficient effort in their training just aren't.
There is a saying that a lot of coaches and trainers have about programming and it goes something like this:
The best program done with little effort yields nothing, but the worst program done with maximum effort yields results.
And believe me I've seen this truth play out time and time again both in my training and in other's.
Yes, you have to optimize your recovery from your training which means eating and sleeping well.
Yes, you should have smart and sound programming.
But if you don't train hard enough and generate a stimulus of a magnitude great enough for your body to care about a response is not a elicited from the body and therefore the hope of an adaptation occurring is no existent regardless of how well you recover.
And people drastically underestimate the magnitude of the stimulus required to disrupt the body's homeostasis and generate an adaptation.
That is why training should be hard and is should require intentional focus and effort on every single rep of every single set of every single exercise.
Sure some training sessions will be better than others or more intense than others, but if you really want to change the way you look and perform than you have to disrupt homeostasis which is something our bodies have become uberly good at resisting and arguably better at it than any other species on the earth.
This is why small caloric deficits often don't always work very well.
This is why stretching a muscle for 20 seconds yields only transient increases in range of motion.
This is why you can't only perform a single set of an exercise and hope for your muscles to get noticeably bigger or stronger.
The stimulus has to be large enough and great enough for your body to give a damn about it and do something about it.
To do this you have to be willing to fight through the resistance and by resistance I mean when your training begins fighting back against you.
When that heavy deadlift pulls back against your attempts to move it off the ground.
When your muscles start burning and requesting to be rested.
This is when you begin to meet resistance and everything up to this point has been easy and without much effort because prior to it you were within doing what your body has already been adapted to do.
When you feel the resistance you know you have begun to breach a new frontier that your body has yet to experience and yet adapted to handle.
At these points in our training many of us let the resistance win.
We give up on the pull when it doesn't jump off the ground.
We terminate the set because we are getting uncomfortable.
But that is the mistake because you stopped just before the stimulus being applied reached a magnitude worth of your body giving notice to.
You missed your chance to disrupt homeostasis and reap the adaptation your chasing.
It's only when you begin to welcome this resistance, embrace it, and fight through it that you begin to create a stimulus worthy of a response from your body.
Fighting through the resistance is when you get what you want.
Only then do you have the chance to gain the muscle you desire, reach the strength you've always wanted, or any other physical ability your training for.
So find the resistance and fight through it.
Don't quit when you encounter it. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Be willing to push back when it pulls.
I myself do exactly that.
This happened today! Video on the right is 440 x 1, but I thought it was 450. Yes I did graduate from college and I did take calculus, but I still make mistakes adding plates up. Thus I corrected my calculation and the video on the left me actual pulling 450 x 1. Super big deal for me as my heaviest pull last year prior to hurting my si joint was 465. I am closing back in. Please forgive my whooping. I was rather excited about it! Plus the fact that today is the first day of post college life just added to the rush. Have you hit any PRs recently?
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training