Train Like A WLF 002: How to Own Your Home Workout — Tension Gaps and Finding Failure.
Now that we’re all in a state of being our own individual persons — we are all very much at home, on lockdown, in isolation — these podcasts are going to be empowering you for your own home workouts, your own home practice, and that’s why today is going to be about how to own that. (Literally. Take command. It’s yours.)
Because, everybody and their mom is posting on Facebook: “Oh, you should do this workout! You should do that one! You should do the other one!”
Which is great for starting something. I’m glad that you all are getting in touch with what moves you, literally — as well as spiritually/emotionally/whatever.
But you’re probably noticing that, as they say on reddit: “YMMV” (or, Your Mileage May Vary).
Because what this really comes down to is how much are you getting out of these different workouts?
So, the good news is that you get what you put in. Which is also the bad news — you get what you put in.
Now, if you’re new to working out, this is going to be when you establish what is your comfort zone. Because once you have a comfort zone, then it’s pretty easy to figure out what is your discomfort zone.
And I do encourage you to start traveling to that discomfort zone, because that actually causes a favorable adaptation. You’re introducing something that’s called “eustress.” Not regular “stress,” not “distress,” but eustress, which is actually beneficial for the body!
Because it encourages you to adapt, then recover, knowing how to fight that same feeling of: “Oh my god I need to do this!” (ie: that driving force that gets our heart rate up when we push ourselves to keep going in our workout. You’re going to run into that driving force in non-physical areas of your life, but knowing how to use it in a purely physical context gives you the ability to then use it in those non-physical scenarios. So being able to push yourself through a workout allows you to push yourself through, for example, getting an extra load of laundry done because clean safety masks are a requirement for going in public right now. Make sense?)
And then you just, do.
Alright, so whatever workout plan you choose — let’s say I choose a random video on YouTube and it says, “Do 3 sets of 10 squats.”
Fantastic! Let’s say you do 3 sets of 10 squats, they don’t hurt, they feel good, but you feel you could do more. So the question is now, do you stop and feel like: “Well, I did my workout for the day because I did what this video told me to” — or are you going to go: “Well, I guess my body is just a little more advanced for this movement, for this video, for this time.”
(If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be living in the moment, this is practical application.)
That’s when you have to be your own coach a little bit, and go: “Alright, so you’ve got options.”
1) You could do 3 sets of 10 again.
2) You could do 1 set that’s going to help you find your failure.
That’s really all I want this podcast to be about.
Find your failure.
Find that number of repetitions it takes to actually get to that point of exhaustion, one that the director of the video wanted you to get from just 10 repetitions. For some people that might be 20. For some people that might be 50.
If it’s an obscene number like 50, that’s when you know the exercise is too easy.
I mean, unless you want to spend your whole day doing squats, go for it. You’re going to have amazing legs. Go for it!
But most of us don’t want to spend the whole day doing squats because we might have day jobs.
So that’s the point at which you make the exercise more complicated. You can either:
1) You could hold the squat a little bit longer at the bottom.
2) You could hold the squat at any point within the squat you feel your legs are wobbling.
That’s one of my favorite games, to “linger in the wobbly.” Find the point within the exercise where your muscles just aren’t using themselves, they don’t feel stable, your joints are moving all over the place — and you just hold yourself there. Use your abs, use your core, whatever.
And what’s going to happen is that’s actually going to cause those neurons to fire (thereby increasing motor unit recruitment, or literally how well you can get your muscle cells up-and-at-’em) in such a way where they’re making that connecting, firing in such a way that it creates that “hole” in the movement, which in fitness is called a “tension gap.”
Tension gap training, or when you’re taking those blank spaces in your neuromuscular programming and literally working through them, making that the focus of your workout, instead of the assumption that: “Well, I’m just gonna do and that’s what the doctor ordered. So, done.”
You’re going to get so much more out of training yourself more like an artist, more like somebody who’s developing technique, who’s developing very real synchronicity with your body. You’re going to actually see your muscles working so much more. You’re going to feel your muscles working so much more.
And when you go back to to the mirror at the end of that workout, you’re actually going to see a difference in your body.
Because that’s what I’m all about. (Oh yes, I’m human. I know what results I need from my training, just as you do.) If you don’t notice a change in yourself after a workout, it means that something was not working as much as it could have been.
That’s just the fact of it. With a really good workout, you will see results immediately.
And so what I’m doing is in this podcast I’ve taught you how to actually feel if it was effective and how to look for the signs of what was effective.
If you have any more questions — because I’m trying to keep this short, I know you’ve got a life to go back to — please feel free to drop me a line. You can find me on Facebook at Work Life Fitness, Instagram at @trainlikeawlf, or just drop me a line through email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at worklife-fitness.com.
Alright, peace! Stay strong.