Beginning any strength training program is always going to require some time to “get acclimated”. Maybe you find yourself new to the specific exercises or maybe it’s just a new exercise order? No matter what, there will be a need to take notes about your personal response and “gather data” about the program overall. Below are the main points I recommend paying attention to in order to maximize your progress LONG TERM!
Training Program Explained
Since I don’t have the opportunity to see most ladies training in person I like to give my insight into training based on what I am looking for when it comes to the “mental approach” you should have in the gym.
Whenever you are following a program that program is just a guide to you. I’m going to talk specifically about programs that I design or the templates that are included in our Resource Guide: “A Female’s Guide to Strength Training & Cardio”.
Included in any of our custom programs and in our templates we’ll recommend the type of exercise based on the range of motion and even make some suggestions of what kinds of exercises to choose from, but we don’t tell you exactly what to do.
This because you should choosing exercises based off of what suits your body best, not what I feel suits my body best. Biomechanics and leverages for each individual are different. Now, with that being said, I believe no matter who you are training really really hard (intensity; the harder you train in terms of effort being applied correctly) is KING. The more you do this, the more other pieces will fall into place.
Coach Taylor touches on this topic in this article: How Much Time Should I Spend in the Gym?”
Keep in mind, this is not pub reviewed paper, haha. These are just some thoughts I have collected from my own training as well as when I train with others and get their feedback. I try to be really observant of my own body and of others during training and I’ll keep adding to this piece in order to convey what you should be looking for when it comes to your own training.
Phases of Instinctive Training
Something that I believe in when it comes to training is “intuitive training”. What I mean is, you HAVE to know how to flip the switch on and crank up the intensity. BUT, just like you know how to flip the switch on, you also have to know your body and trust yourself in order to be able to flip the switch off.
The way you “instinctively train” is by using your program as a template. Always keep in mind that your body is king over the template. So, let’s say on leg day or back day you get to squats or deadlifts and you are just really feeling great…. stick with it! Your program might have you doing only 3 sets with 8-10 reps, but if you’re feeling awesome that day, go ahead and do 5-6 sets, but remove other “planned lifts”. If things are firing on all cylinders there is no reason to do 4-5 different exercises/lifts even if they are programmed. You can get a fantastic training session in with only a few exercises if you’re really connected to the movement and able to get the most out of it.
In the same way, if you get to squats and nothing is clicking; joints hurt, motion feels off etc. just move on. This is not an excuse to be a whimp, but if you can hammer out hacks squats or leg presses one day in place of squats because your body just isn’t feeling it, by all means do it!
For example, the temperature here in New Hampshire has dropped drastically and my back was just not having the barbell back squats I have programmed. So, I switched to deep leg presses and hacks instead and the job was done. My back felt great and my muscle got the training stimulus they needed to improve.
Another thing I want to touch on is called “the Pump” or cell volumization; i.e. accumulation of metabolites.
You should REALLY get in tune with this by finding and assessing your peak pump, so to speak. The overall design of training (in terms of the variables that really matter), most of the time, need to stay consistent. Stick to what is working for you, the exercises that suit your current physique the best and the ones you can get the most out of long term. It’s is only a disadvantage to constantly switch up your exercise selection.
This does NOT mean you can’t switch up some things in your programming as time progresses and also do some instinctive training going more by feel. But, the instinctive training will really come into play the longer you train. It requires you to pay close attention to how every part of training feels to you.
It will really pay off if you choose to do a contest prep….when it comes to doing what is needed and not overdoing things when it’s not needed. Not only instinctive training, but also instinctive time of day training when fatigue sets in. It’s our goal to set the stage long term with this type of approach to training.
You need to be receptive to what YOUR body needs over time.
The key point when training with an instinctive focus is to really listen to your body.
I believe that for every athlete there is a “peak of the pump”. What I mean is that there comes a point in your training session where the muscle is so engorged with blood that past that point it only seems to go down hill.
I want you to be really in tune with this and when you reach that peak point pay attention to it. If the pump starts to fade, this is where the workout of that specific group needs to stop. There is no point in continuing to train a muscle group that is beyond its “peak pump”. This is just like continuing to hammer a nail that is already fully flush against a piece of wood.
Engorge the muscle with blood to its max and then once it starts to taper back down. REALIZE when this point is for you. Stop and move onto the next body part or be done for the day if all parts were hit.
This is NOT an excuse to be lazy, but instead to train smart and capitalize on “the pump”…. which is fueling your body with nutrients to aid in recovery rather than continuing to break it down for no reason.
When it comes to the set by set breakdown itself, working sets are just that: working sets!!
Too many people train nowhere near to the max of what they can be doing. (Especially ladies!!)
Once you have your mind engaged and warm ups are done it is time to move onto your working sets. That means it’s is time to work, not just count reps.
If you miss-judge a set and say you are aiming for 6-8 reps, but you realize what you just did or have started to do is too light either stop and increase the load or just keep going to 10-12 reps and make it a real working set. (Use your judgement based on your goals and the programming you’re following).
There is a mental component to training.
You need to be constantly evaluating and collecting data on your experience. Think and take note about how every warm-up set makes you feel, how each rep allows you the opportunity to connect with your muscle. Don’t exhaust your muscles by wasting time on high rep warm-up sets and not maximizing every working set.
We have a growing YouTube channel with tons of exercise demonstrations as well as many variations of your traditional exercises. All of our videos include voice overs so you’ll be able to learn and apply them to your own training.
DISCLAIMER: Kala Duncan (DBA The OMNI FIT ™) is not a doctor or registered dietitian. The contents of this document should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health.