weight lifting

Listen To Your Body For Better Results

Just listen to your body. Sounds easy right? It may sound easy but I can assure you it isn’t! As a coach, I have found a great way to see where athletes are at. Difficulty of an exercise, intensity of a workout, how much weight to add to the bar, etc. But athletes should learn to also listen to their body because the coach can’t be around 24/7! So here are my few tips on how to listen to your body and what areas you should look out for.

How To Listen To Your Body

First, you should do this sitting. You can have your eyes closed or open. Then, do a mental scan from the top of your head all the way to your feet. Focus on each individual part of your body one at a time. This will highlight any areas that feel off or need specific attention.

Another method to do this is to stop periodically throughout the day and take a mental note of your body. Clear your mind completely and just let whatever emotions/internal issues arise. We can get caught up being so busy that we don’t bring any attention to how we are feeling internally.

Key Areas to Listen

Here are some areas that you should look for and identify right away.

1) Fatigue: Both mental and physical fatigue are very important. Don’t try to push your max weights if you are either mentally or physically burnt out.

2) Hunger: In terms of eating, your body will always tell you what it wants. If it wants more, you will feel it in your stomach. A lot of times, habitual and overeating are very mental. I have found that listening to your body is a great tool for moderating how much food you actually need to eat. This includes junk food!

3) Aches and Pains: If you are feeling tightness (more than usual), it may be a good idea to take it easier on that specific area. The mental scan would be really good to highlight any of these areas.

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The Importance of Percentage Work

What is percentage work?

First let’s talk about what percentage lifting or work is. This is lifting weights that are lower than your 1 repetition max. So if you are doing 5 repetitions, you will most likely be using weight that is 70-80% of that 1 repetition max. So the weights are not the maximum, can be completed with good form but is still challenging. Now you may think I should push myself, so why shouldn’t I try to do the maximum weight every time? I’ll explain below.

Testing vs. Gaining Strength

When you are always trying to perform your 1 rep max, you are testing your strength. But when you decide to do lighter manageable weights (also called percentage work), you are building that strength. Disclaimer, I am not saying to never push your max. I am advocating for training with manageable weights, performed with good technique and strategically working up to the maximum weight. If you take the time to gain strength and then test it, you will be further ahead than just testing it every single week.

Engraining Good Technique

Using slightly lower weight than your max is essential because it will help you work on technique. Doing complex movements like the clean and snatch require a lot of technique. Using lower weights (percentage work) can help you build muscle memory of good technique. When you lift maximum weight, it is much easier for the body to break down. You want your body to remember the good technique, not the bad form.

Fatigue

As you continually train, your body will gradually get fatigued. I’m not talking about getting tired after doing 5 reps, I’m talking about training fatigue. This type of fatigue can occur after training consistently hard for multiple weeks. This can range anywhere from 2 weeks and up, depending on your level./ So during this times, it is even more important to stick to the percentage work. As you accumulate fatigue, it will be harder to push those maximum weights. Working with the lower weights will help still build strength and help you continue training for a long time, which is the name of the game!

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