No. Seriously. Let’s talk about me.
Specifically, let’s talk about how I train. I thought it may be helpful to give you guys a peak into how a real life fitness professional applies his own knowledge to his own training.
The first bomb I’d love to drop on your face (AGGRESSIVE MUCH?) is I generally don’t do programs I design. This may strike you as odd, since part of my professional responsibilities include designing effective programs. But the fact of the matter is I’m painfully aware that I too suffer from bias when it comes to doing programs I design. If left to our own devices, we all want to do what we like and what we’re good at. Not generally the best idea.
If left to my own devices, I’d stick to things I’m AWESOME at.
Like wrestling wild creatures into submission.
Same ol’, same ol’…
And since a program can’t be discussed without discussing goals, you should know I’m currently training for general strength. To that end, I’m currently using what I consider to be one of the best strength training programs for those seeking general strength (as opposed to power-lifters), 5-3-1 by Jim Wendler of Elite Fitness Training Systems. I won’t bore you with the details but… it’s a program designed to make you stronger. Dzuh. I CAN’T recommend it enough for any of you focused on increasing your maximal strength.
The other thing you must know is that… no trainer can resist sliiiightly tweaking the program they’re on. Although I’m sticking with the general 5-3-1 template for my strength training, I do warmup and mobility drills I’ve designed for my particular corrective needs. This includes self massage work with a foam roller and a lacrosse ball, and a potpourri of stretching, mobility work, activation work, calisthenics to get my blood flowing, and some full body movements to get some light practice at what I consider to be the bedrocks of movement: goblet squats, single leg deadlifts, lunges, pushups, high fives, etc.
And as an intermediate/ advanced trainer, I’ve also learned the value of allowing for changes in my workout based on how I’m feeling that day. I feel I’ve gotten great results this past year because I’m finally listening to my body; if I feel like crap, I’m not gonna push it that day and I’ll cut the workout short. If I feel like a million bucks, maybe I’ll do a few extra sets that day. Bodybuilders call it “instinctive training.” The late Dr. Mel Siff (author one of the great bibles of strength training, Supertraining) called it “cybernetic periodization” (one of my FAVORITE, pretentious, science-y terms of all time!!!). ”Autoregulation” is a systemized way of doing this by doing specific performance tests before your workout and then altering your workout accordingly.
To be clear, I DO NOT recommend playing with this concept until you’ve been training for at LEAST three years. When you’re a beginner, it’s best to just DO A PROGRAM AS IT’S WRITTEN and then learn how your body responds.
And what could I be doing better? Well I’m focusing on strength right now, and since cardiovascular work can be detrimental to recovering when you’re truly prioritizing strength, I don’t spend a lot of time with my heart rate elevated. However, I’m going to be doing more of that this month. And since I don’t care for traditional forms of cardio, I’m going to be spending a couple of hours a week working on my kettlebell technique (under the watchful eye of a trainer I’ve hired, my friend Matt Semrick). This way I get some cardio in and I get to learn more. The additional kettlebell work will also be helpful as l prioritize leaning out over the next month. This way I’ll feel super “ab-by” when the spring weather justifies why I just can’t possibly go to the grocery store with a shirt on it’s way too hot for that plus I don’t have a single clean shirt looks like I’ll have to go shirtless to the grocery store that’s right shirtless grocery store trip here I come any ladies wanna come with me on a shirtless grocery store trip oh snap see what I did there high five to myself why are you looking at me like that?
Read that again. No, not the nonsense run-on about being shirtless, the part about hiring a trainer.
I HIRED A TRAINER. I believe in the value of asking for help when taking care of your body. But it’s certainly possible you just know more about health and hotness than I do.
So your takeaways: you’ll generally be served by having someone else write your program, even if you’re a fitness professional. Always have a goal and make sure your behaviors match it (and to be clear, sometimes maintenance is a great goal). Always be assessing what you could be doing better and look for ways to improve. You can totally justify going to the grocery store shirtless if it’s warmer than 71 degrees outside.