Looking back at my 21-year lifting career, I can tell you that most of my nagging pain, injuries, and setbacks were due to one simple thing – failing to ease into things. Having read plenty of bodybuilding magazines and books growing up, I mistakenly thought that I had to shock my body in order to see good results, whatever that means. Though I still make this mistake from time to time, just as any serious lifter does due to overzealousness, I’m guilty of it much less frequently than in years and decades past. Please let this quote sink in:
“Strength training is a marathon, not a sprint”
The lifter who lives to train another week sees better progress than the lifter who is constantly riddled with setbacks. Here is some very simple, but oft ignored advice:
- When you switch to a different routine, ease into things
- When you learn a new exercise, ease into things
- When you start implementing cardio, ease into things
- When you start implementing HIIT, ease into things
- When you’re returning from a break from training, ease into things
- When you come back from an injury, ease into things
- When you start implementing plyos, ease into things
- When you start implementing sprints, ease into things
- When you start implementing a new training method, ease into things
- When you purchase a new piece of equipment, ease into things
- When you start training at a new facility, ease into things
- When you start playing a new sport, ease into things
- When you’re all excited about a new goal you set, still ease into things
- When you go on a diet, ease into things
- When you don’t quite feel right, ease into things
When you want to set a PR, make sure you’re prepared.
When you have a contest, race, or competition, make sure you’re prepared.
You don’t need to go from A to Z in one day. Your body will positively adapt by going from A to B, B to C, C to D, …Y to Z.
There’s nothing wrong with going at 50% one session, 60% the next, 70% the next, 80% the next, 90% the next, and finally 100% the next.
There’s nothing wrong with stopping short of failure, leaving plates on the floor, or leaving some fuel in the tank.
There’s nothing wrong with just doing one set of an exercise.
There’s nothing wrong with jogging one lap one session, two laps the next, three laps the next, and four laps thereafter.
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to just bodyweight for a couple of sessions before adding load.
There’s rarely a need to “shock the body” and do things radically different.
Taking a moderate approach and seeing how your body responds is always wise in S&C.
Gradual improvement is the name of the iron game.
The human body is capable of astounding achievements and incredible feats of strength and athleticism, but in order to display these feats, the body must hold up over time. Build the body up gradually and reap the rewards later in life.