Three Things I've Been Thinking About Lately While Working Out By Charles Staley
I'll admit it— I think way too much when I lift. Maybe not during the actual lift, where I tend to focus on 1-2 primary movement cues, but between sets. Here's what's been on my frontal cortex lately...
One: The Subtle Nuances Of Temperature Regulation
Sometimes I feel a little like a cold-blooded reptile during my workouts (how's that for an opening teaser?)
I'm simply referring to the ongoing (and usually subconscious) effort to regulate temperature during my training sessions. After all, your performance will suffer if you're running too hot or too cold. Being too hot is fatiguing, distracting, and may also result in excessive perspiration, which, aside from being annoying, can actually be a safety hazard. And obviously, if you allow yourself to cool off too much, your performance suffers as your soft tissues lose their pliability. Here are a few of the things I catch myself doing as I try to maintain a happy thermic medium:
Toweling off (prevents cooling due to sweat evaporation)
Not toweling off (accelerates cooling due to sweat evaporation)
Drinking water (decreases core temperature)
Not drinking water (maintains core temperature)
Resting longer between sets (allows cooling)
Shorter rests between sets (prevents cooling)
Pacing between sets (prevents cooling)
Sitting between sets (accelerates cooling)
Putting on more clothing (prevents cooling)
Taking off clothing (accelerates cooling)
Standing under A/C vent (accelerates cooling)
Moving away from A/C vent (prevents cooling)
As if I haven't over-analyzed this sufficiently, one more important thought about temperature regulation: if you're not already doing so, you should consider using some of the truly great sweat-wicking fabrics that are available today (most notably Under Armor, but also the fabrics used by Adidas, Nike, and Russell, just to name a few). Cotton clothing, especially if you sweat a lot and/or live in a hot/humid climate, is terrible at wicking sweat which means you'll have a hard time maintaining a consistently-ideal body temperature.
Two: The Load-Speed-Technique Continuum
Recently I've been cranking out some (for me) big snatches, and right in the middle of a heavy double the other day, it occurred to me that for some time now, my head has been so wrapped around technical issues that I've forgotten about the value of speed, which is arguably one of the most critical facets of successful lifting. After all, it doesn't matter if you're squatting, benching, flipping a tire, or chinning yourself, moving the load faster has an amazing way of ensuring success.
And technique, by the way, is velocity-specific: just because you can execute a slow lift properly doesn't mean you can execute a fast lift properly. As I work my way through my warm-up sets, I'll typically perform the first rep slowly and the second rep faster, trying to maintain technical consistency over both reps. Then, as I hit my top sets, I'll try to maintain that technical model with limit and near-limit weights.
Three: Technique VS Speed
You might be surprised to learn that I think slow lifts are valuable. Note that I didn't way "purposefully slow." I'm just referring to heavy lifts that are slow for the simple reason that you can't move them any faster. I've been thinking about this lately because I've been focusing more on heavier squats and deadlifts.
I'm amazed too see how fast I'm actually moving weights that actually feel quite slow. This is probably due to the fact that I spend most of my time moving weights very quickly. I'm better off (and you would be too) using a variety of lifting speeds, ranging from accelerative to grinding— this helps to fill out your sensory portfolio, and you'll be less likely to miss a new PR opportunity when 85% feels like 100%, like my squat did in the video above!
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