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In order to get the most benefit from a workout, you need to tailor it to your body's readiness to respond. This means that on a day when your energy and strength are particularly high, your workout ought to be severe. On days when your energy and strength are low, however, you
need to adjust your program accordingly and demand less of yourself.
That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? In fact, I doubt that anyone involved in the iron game would disagree with it, Nonetheless, false doubt if we could find any on in the iron game who didn't sometimes flagrantly disregard that truth. People train as though their bodies were machines rather than living organisms, and they are seriously in doing so. Everyone faces two obstacles when it's time to work out: physical obstacles and psychological obstacles.
Only in regard to psychological obstacles is an attitude of 'Hell, I don't care howl feel; I'm gonna push" sensible, You must be more flexible when it comes to physical obstacles. If your body isn't up to heavy demands, it isn't to up to 'em. That means it won't benefit from excessively severe demands. So, if you feel awful-physically---when you go to the gym, and 10 minutes into your warm-up you still feel awful, hold back. Your body is telling you something, and if you try to tough ft out, all you'll get is staleness, fatigue and failure.
Naturally, if you discover as you warm up that you're rarin' to go-that you were actually feeling a temporary and minor psychological down-work out like crazy. It will do you good. Your body will benefit because your body wasn't the problem. Now, it's very important to distinguish between physical and psychological lows, if you don't make that distinction, you'll have a great out every time you feel a little depressed. The trick is to know when you need to rest and when you should really go full steam ahead regardless of how you feel.
If your problem is a psychological one, 10 minutes work will tell you. Increased respiration and circulation and activated muscles will make your mental low vanish, and you'll experience great energy instead. On the other hand, if your problem is physical, you won't feel a surge of energy. You'll just feel beat, and you'll want to call it quits for the session. That's exactly what you should do in that situation. Unfortunately, the human organism works on the basis of cycles. I say "unfortunately" because I have seen endless instances in which this simple fact causes trainees grief.
They have no problem enjoying the ups, but do they ever resist the downs 'It's in my mind," they say. The fact is it's not always mental, and if you persist in training, you're going to worsen an already sorry state of affairs, I want two kinds of trainees to benefit from my tries.
First, I want those of you who are serious and dedicated to stop battering yourselves when you ought to be holding back, I want you to understand that you have to take into consideration your body's fluctuating ability to accommodate intense training. Second, I want those of you who tend to be a little lazy to stop using the excuse, "I'm not up to it today" Laziness is best handled by forging ahead. Defeat it by piling on the weights and lifting them. Do extra reps, go for a new record. In other words, know yourself.
Know why you feel as you do and train accordingly. I believe that experience is a great help here. We may not always know exactly why we feel the way we do, but if we've trained long and hard and are truly trying to improve ourselves, we won't be too far off in our reading. I've seen superb athletes walk into the gym, toy with a light weight and simply shrug off the workout that day. "Better rest," they mutter. "Today I just don't have it." They're absolutely right. How do I know? Because of the development they've achieved.
They didn't get there by being lazy. They got there by consistently training in the manner best suited to their needs. I've seen advanced trainees come into the gym looking haggard. "Rotten, lousy day," they grunt. Mumbling obscenities about their workday, apparently concerned with everything but their workout, they proceed to train.
And lo and behold, 20 minutes into the session they're grinding away like tigers. The upsets of the day are forgotten; their energy is high. Those experienced lifters knew that they needed a terrific workout, in spite of not feeling like it when they got to the gym.
If you haven't reached the stage yet where you're your own best possible trainer, begin by accepting the fact that cycles are inevitable. Realize that no one is always at his or her best. You'll have down times. You'll have ups too, and while you should take advantage of them, you can't expect them to continue indefinitely.
Be sensitive to your total self when you enter the gym. You can't treat your body as if it doesn't have a mind to guide it, and you mustn't allow yourself to ignore the fact that your body has to carry out your commands, rigidly adhering to a routine won't produce the results that you'll get from flexible, realistic, appropriate levels of exertion.