Show of hands, who has gone to their therapy this month? For those of you who didn't put your hand up...maybe think about stopping in. But for those of you who do partake, perhaps you have heard of the term distress tolerance.
This is the umbrella term to describe your ability to face negative emotions and events and react appropriately in order to not make things worse. From an emotional standpoint this can be used to deal with break ups, bad days at work, or just those shitty mental health days that tend to pop up every now and again. So how does this carry over into the fitness world?
There are going to be times when working towards your healthier you is going to suck. You don't want to stick to your diet because you feel tired and cranky, the last set was hard and you have two more sets to go, anything that motivates you to give up instead of power ahead. There are some tools we can put into the toolbox though to help us be more tolerant of these hard times.
The first skill is radical acceptance. This IS NOT approval of the situation. You are tired and do not feel like going to the gym. In this situation you do not have to tell yourself everything is ok. That it is ok you're tired and can get through it. This is approval. We are looking for radical acceptance. Take an honest look at yourself. If you understand that today is going to be difficult because your fatigue is making you more motivated to go home than to the gym then you can honestly handle the situation much better than sugar coating the truth.
The next tool is mindful thinking. After you have accepted the reality of how you feel and your situation, think about how you will feel after you do the workout, think about how once you start you can probably finish, or if things are so bad, that even one minute spent in the gym is better than completely avoiding it. Be in the moment and take everything for as it is in that exact second. You can always give one minute more of effort.
My personal favorite tool is grounding yourself in your senses. To say you feel tired isn't pain, pleasure, hot, or cold, it's the end result of not being motivated to do something. You may say you are tired but could sit in bed on Tik Tok for the next three hours no problem. So focus yourself on your 5 senses and feel how real those things are. Push the thoughts of being unmotivated from your mind and ground yourself in the simplest of feelings.
So radically accept the situation with no judgment just general, honest evaluation, mindfully think of your goals and the honest reality, and then simplify your thoughts to your most simplest feelings. These are just distress tolerance skills at their most basic so feel free to look more into it. This can help you next time you are afraid of your big lift or feel like skipping leg day.
One of the advantages to having a coach who knows what they are doing is you should always be doing the right amount of work to solicit a training adaptation. Coaching is an artform and there are a lot of tools in the tool box for a good coach to use to better serve their athletes. But if you were to get your hand on one of these tools, would you be able to relieve your coach of their duties and save that hard earned cash you are spending on them? Let us see.
One of the favorite, basic tools of many coaches is Prilepin's Table. It was developed by A.S. Prilepin after studying countless olympic lifters' training journals. Through rigorous application of exercise science, Prilepin created a table that would allow a good coach to apply sets, reps, and intensities to athletes that would make them absolute freaks. This did come from Russia in the 70s when their Olympic weightlifting was on a whole different tier. Below is a picture of Prilepin's Table.
So let's break down what we are seeing. The far left column outlines the intensity of the lift. The second column is giving a range for how many reps you will have to do in a given set at the intensity to best solicit a response. Optimal total reps is the hypothetical optimal amount of total reps an athlete should do on a given movement in a workout. The far right column gives an acceptable range of total reps one could do for a given movement depending on multiple factors.
So now that you have this knowledge you can just plug and play right?! No unfortunately not. Each athlete is different. There is a reason that there are ranges on a majority of these data points in the table.
There are things in the micro that affect how you would program an athlete. What is their total fatigue? Where are they at in the training cycle? Are they dealing with any injuries? How are you feeling this day?
There are also macro factors that will change how a coach will program an athlete. What is the training age of the athlete? Is this a pre contest prep run up or is this an off season general physical preparedness oriented block? Are there weight changes being made to the athlete? Also, this one is big, is the athlete even an Olympic weightlifter?!
Although this table has application in multiple strength sports, the specificity of this tool is best used for Olympic weightlifting or pure power expression sports. You couldn't program bodybuilders or general health clients to the parameters in the above table.
I know. You thought this article was going to empower you into being more autonomous. You could be freed of the chains of the monthly cost of your coach and make the same or better progress. But if this disheartened you, just know that this is only one of so many different tools a good coach will use to help program athletes. A good coach is worth the money and if you are seeing progress with an individual hold on and ride that train out. Good coach's are worth their weight in gold and you never have to worry about 1970s Russian sports science ever again.
Secrets to Gaining Muscle
The secret is....there is no secret. Everything you need to know is already out there at your fingertips for your use. But let's go over the key points to make sure you have all the needed resources to be able to push yourself in the proper direction.
The most important aspect of hypertrophy, the gaining of muscle tissue, is that you have to be in a caloric surplus or the gaining of muscle is already at a non starter. First, calculate your basal metabolic rate to know what the bare minimum amount of calories your body needs a day. From this add 10% of the overall value to put yourself in a slight surplus. MOST OF THESE CALORIES SHOULD COME FROM CARBS AND PROTEINS. Sticks of butter don't build physiques. Start here and increase your calories slowly so you see about a half pound increase, week to week, on the scale. If you consistently do this over the course of 12-16 weeks, you will see increases in muscle mass. But how much muscle? Let's discuss.
The way to preferentially build muscle over fat, outside of macronutrient breakdown, is to force adaptations in the weight room. There are two variables that effect our ability to force adaptations; Intensity and Load. Intensity is how close to failure you are. This can be counted in Reps in Reserve, Rated Perceived Exertion, or any other system that you find useful. There has to be a consistent effort to push the intensity in the gym in order to force adaptation. This is load aside! In order to gain muscle a 30-75% 1RM weight should be selected and taken to a high degree of difficulty in the 6-30 rep range. NO ONE REP MAXES. NO HEAVY TRIPLES. We aren't powerlifting at this point we have the ultimate goal of building muscle tissue so make all efforts geared towards that.
The final component in our muscle building triad is recovery. What are you doing to make sure that your body is ready enough to go train? Sleep is paramount. Are you getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night? If building muscle is important enough to you that you have made it this far into this article then you better be! Is your water intake AT LEAST at a gallon of liquids a day? If the answer to that was no then guess again. Are you training seven days a week because that is what it takes? Wrong stop doing that dumb shit. Give yourself time to rest. Dial back the volume of days and you will be surprised how much better you feel and you might also get some of that sweet, sweet progress you have been begging for.
Here you will find all the tips and tricks we think will be useful to you and your fitness goals.