Seasons of Training

Our physical training can have many seasons depending on factors such as our current state-of-health, goals, hobbies and current conditioning level.

We just hosted an RKC-I event at MoveStrong Kettlebells. The participants, including two from our gym, were focused on mastering the six skills they were required to test. They also prepared to test 100 snatches in 5 minutes with a prescribed kettlebell weight and they worked hard to increase their overall conditioning to make it through the 27 hours of the event. They were in the season of Event Preparation.

Event Preparation. When we have paid and registered to participate in a competition, workshop or certification event, very specific training is often necessary to get the most out of the event. In my experience, this includes at least 2-3 days of week of specific skill preparation. The other 2-3 days can include mobility/movements that complement the event preparation. Our two RKC candidates prepared by attending kettlebell classes regularly 3-4 days a week. I made sure the programming was appropriate for them with technique emphasis, conditioning and snatch test preparation. This same programming benefited all of our general kettlebell students with occasional modifications.

Standard Training. This is training to be happy, healthy and mobile in everyday life. This is how we (at MoveStrong Kettlebells) train most of the time. This is a mix of upper and lower body push and pull 3-4 days a week using hardstyle kettlebell movements and lifts, lots of mobility and bodyweight work and occasional barbells lifts. We seek to improve in some way in every session. Some coaches refer to this at the 1% rule (get 1% better at something every time you train.) Standard Training can actually be quite extraordinary because there is a lot of learning and progressing without the pressure of preparing for an event. Personally, this is my favorite way to train because it is a mix of light, medium, heavy training and exploratory movement, with rest days as needed, over the course of a week.

Training Toward a Personal Record. Our general physical preparation is varied, yet strategic, so that progress is made consistently over several months. If someone has a specific goal, we can train toward that over time. We don't always have to train, for example, barbell deadlifts, to keep that skill high. However, for an experienced athlete who is seeking to improve a lift by, for example, 20%, that athlete needs to train it regularly with attention to load, volume and rest to achieve that goal. That student may want to follow a specific written program with steps to progress intentionally to that goal. This can be challenging in a group setting where all the needs of the group must be met. Some additional work with your coach may be needed outside of classes. 

Adaptive Training. Sometimes a new or former injury fires up and we need to carefully step back and train differently to allow the body to strengthen and/or heal. Perhaps a weak area of the body is causing a compensation in another area. Special attention is needed to progress in our weak areas to protect our health and to keep safely progressing. For example, if low back pain occurs because of rounding in the lumbar during pulling activities, the focus is on improving pull technique, repositioning the load to prevent compensatory movement or perhaps using no load at all until the movement is perfected in the body. Some additional strengthening exercises, more mobility, or even time away from the gym may also be necessary to move back into Standard Training.

Specialized Sport Training. Many students have a specialized sport they enjoy for a portion of the training year. I like them to continue their strength and conditioning with us two days a week to keep their kettlebell skills high and to help them stay overall strong and therefore more resilient to injury. But of course, when they are in 'season', our general training is secondary to their primary sport. My goal is to keep them injury free and moving well. They are not training their heaviest with us when they are in season and I ask them to manage their overall physical and mental fatigue. I have found that hardstyle kettlebell training is highly complementary to specialized sports with appropriate loading and rest days.

Summary. Our gym members fall into different seasons of training at different times in their lives. Yet, we all train together in small group classes. How is that possible? It is surprisingly easy to do with the RKC System of Strength which allows each person to adapt with varied training loads, volume, intensity and rest. Small group training is a cost-effective and a safe way for people to train if they are moving safely and mindfully. With small group training, you have peers to support you, a coach to guide you, and the programming to help you progress at your own pace in a non-competitive environment.

Do you want to learn more about our training methods? Contact us as we'd love to share our training approach with you. ~Lori

Strong Member Spotlight: Kristina S.

When Kristina came to MoveStrong Kettlebells, she was timid about using the weights and a lot of the movements were new and challenging to her. She was very patient with her body, and with me! and she was willing get outside her comfort zone to learn, think and feel the movements.

She began to really enjoy the complex movements like the swing, snatch and Turkish Getup. She also enjoys barbell deadlifts and how powerful she feels doing them. 

I would say that Kristina is one of our most improved members. She is now moving with more grace and ease, using heavier weight than ever before, and most importantly, she is becoming more mobile and flexible every week. 

She believes in herself, enjoys her classmates and has a great attitude about training.

Her work schedule doesn't always allow her to come to class as much as she'd like, but she is very good about coming to Sat. Mobility class and doing some kettlebell work at home.

She has adopted a strength lifestyle and I am very proud of her progress, her willingness to take a rest day when her body needs it, and I am excited for her to continue to grow as a hardstyle kettlebell athlete and a confident young woman.

In Kristina's words ...

Why did you start kettlebell training?

“I needed more muscle!” That was one of the thoughts which came to mind. I was in need of becoming a stronger person. In the past, I have used different strength training methods, but with mixed results. I had not heard of kettlebells until recently. It looked interesting and was intrigued with swinging weights rather than just lifting weights.

What do you like most about kettlebell training?

I feel like I have accomplished something important for myself. I get excited about the progress I’ve made since I started. I love how it’s made me a stronger person both inside and out.

What is the biggest surprise about training with MoveStrong and with Kettlebells?

I love how the training is dynamic and ever changing to suit each of our needs. For instance, the last several months, Lori has incorporated stretching time at the ending of the workout into a five minute flow. My flexibility has improved. You can come to consecutive classes in the manner in which they are structured and focus on different muscle groups or focus more on grip strength or flexibility, etc.

What are your two favorite kettlebell or bodyweight movements and why?

Snatches and pendulum swings! Snatching is a complex movement. I remember when I first tried it. Now, I’ve grown into it. It’s a movement you must absolutely focus on. You must have all the muscles work together. I dare say it’s poetic! For pendulum swings, they feel relaxing to me on one level. At the same time, they tax my legs and other adjoining muscles in a good way.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in getting started with kettlebells?

Make sure you find an instructor who teaches you the basic foundational movements safely. Once you have that, you can build upon it and grow. It took me a while to get adjusted to the movement of the kettlebell swing. Give your body time. Don’t give up. I’d say the first week is the most challenging. Every movement you do builds into something stronger. It’s amazing to think the body reshapes and rebuilds with more strength each time you apply yourself. So I will continue to do just that.

Strong Member Spotlight: Patty Rinella

Patty joined MoveStrong Kettlebells after she retired from the City of Dublin. I had met her in some classes I was teaching at the City and I always enjoyed her willingness to try new things. Patty has an infectious laugh which makes her a blast to have in class.

Patty also enjoys yoga and walks regularly so when she came to MoveStrong KBs, she was already a very good mover and she learned the kettlebell movements quickly. 

I will never forget the first time she walked into class and saw the barbells all lined up for deadlifts. She turned around like she was going to leave! But of course she didn't -- and now she loves deadlift day and has a PR of 185#.

Patty likes to lift heavy. The heavier the better with deadlifts, sled pushes and carries. She also excels at squats and swings. The cardiovascular work we do with swings, snatches and cleans is challenging for all of us, but Patty never backs away from a challenge. 

When Patty first started, she attended noon classes, and after I moved out of Old Dublin, I didn't have the foot traffic to support noon classes any more, so Patty adjusted her schedule (and her life!) to attend the 7:30 a.m. class --- for which I am very grateful.

Kettlebell Training in Patty's words ...

What surprised you the most about strength training?  

The variety of workouts and training programs; it's never boring, always challenging and rewarding. The amount of cardio involvement has been a real wake up call for me, and "form" really does matter. I walk out at the end of every class and think to myself, "I can't believe I do this and I love it."

What is the Impact of kettlebell training in your everyday life?  

I feel great, I'm strong and high energy. I am also more aware of what I eat. I honestly believe I'm more toned than I have ever been. As you know, for me the health benefits are a perk, my main reason for starting this journey was to keep my arms strong.

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What are your favorite kettlebell lifts?

I like the push press, it makes me feel powerful, I think it's probably because I can use a heavier bell. I also like goblet squats and after an extremely long learning curve, I really like getups. I feel like I'm using every muscle in my body when we do these moves.

Advice to someone considering kettlebell training ...

Choose a trainer wisely; you must like and trust that person. Make a deal with yourself to commit for at least 3 months and show up.  This is what worked for me along with some Biofreeze! 

The moves are not complicated, kettlebell training make me happy, keeps me moving (which keeps me healthy) so I can do what I want to in life. Since I retired, I don't do complicated. Right now I can do this, and I have fun with it, so I do.

Is This Warmup or Workout?

I have heard this a lot lately in classes and it makes me happy.

Warmup is a series of dynamic movements to get blood and nutrients moving into your muscles and joints. 

Warmup wakes up the nervous system and helps us dial in our movement patterns. It reveals any tightnesses / strengths / weaknesses / imbalances that may need attention and it gives us a sense of how we feel that day.

Our particular way of training is about half-and-half strength and mobility -- and sometimes the mobility work, that spans both Warmup and Workout, feels harder than the strength work.

Warmup should relate in some way to the Workout. For example, squat prying is a good practice in warmup if you are squatting in the workout. T-spine, hip and shoulder opening is always helpful to prime the body for kettlebell lifts. 

Prepping complex movements with lighter weight, no weight or movement regressions in warmup makes sense. For example, we don’t train Snatch-to-Lunge without doing some light snatches and unweighted lunges -- separately beforehand.

Warmup can be weighted or unweighted.

Kettlebells. Bodyweight. Olympic Lifts. TRX. Calisthenics. Primal Movement. Play. Warmup and Workout mix and match to include upper body pull and push and lower body pull and push using varied tools and methods.

Master RKC Dan John advises no separation between warmup and workout and recommends warming up with a lighter version of what you will do in the workout. This is when I most often hear these words, ‘Is this workout yet?’

We know that skipping Warmup will negatively impact the Workout and put us at risk for injury. 

Once we truly dive into the Workout, there are more reps, higher intensity, heavier weight, and more more varied movements and rest periods than during Warmup. There is a more serious mental focus and perhaps an accumulation of fatigue that builds, needs to be monitored by checking biofeedback, and reduced with some calming mobility / flexibility movements between sets.

Warmup and Workout should work seamlessly together.

Train safely. Move to increase range of motion, add stability and increase flexibility. Get stronger while maintaining or improving movement quality. Build cardiovascular endurance (yes, you will begin to breath hard during warmup.)

My role is to facilitate your understanding of how your body is moving and dosing the specific movements in just the right amount so you feel energized, re-charged and renewed afterward. I try to expand your physical horizons with varied, but targeted, warmups and workouts.

The lines are blurred with Warmup and Workout, but this makes the experience rich and varied and keeps our training fresh. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

5 Formidable Benefits of Consistent Exercise

Your body is simply amazing, just as it is, since the day you were born.

Imagine if you challenged your amazing body with moderate physical activity on a consistent basis, starting right now, so that you learn to move, strengthen and lift in new ways that transform your outlook on life. According to the CDC, only about 20% of us get the recommended amount of exercise each week, so what is holding you back?

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Now is the perfect time to start.

How does exercise transform your daily life? Your relationships? Your work? Your play? Your overall health? Your impact on others?

With the new year, people are thinking about exercise in relation to losing weight -- and that is fine, but I challenge you to look more deeply into the truly transformational role exercise can play in your daily life:

  1. Experience the thrill of learning something new. It is exciting to learn a new skill and engage the brain and the body in thought-provoking activity. We know that exercise promotes neurogenesis, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, at any age. Humans are meant to learn and thrive at all stages of life and exercise gives you a daily dose of this.
     
  2. Be the most energetic person you know. What you eat plays a role in your energy level of course, but so does the number of mitochondria you have. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria transform energy from food and turn it into cellular energy. Exercise increases the number of mitochondria in your body, thus improving the body’s ability to produce energy. This helps you exercise with a higher energy output (i.e. faster and longer) and the result is you feel great. Side Note: train moderately with light, medium and heavy training days and lots of mobility work, but more importantly, train consistently (2-3-4-5 days a week - listen to your body.) Learn the doses you need and you will train well into your elder years.
     
  3. Feel calm and peaceful with more mental clarity. Exercise normalizes insulin resistance and boosts the natural “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and more. The feeling of calm after exercise is real.  With regular exercise, changes in the heart occur, including potentially a decreased heart rate which can help you feel more calm. There are positive changes in the circulatory system. Many physiological and neuromuscular changes occur in the body during exercise that contribute to your overall sense of feeling good and feeling well.
     
  4. Tune in to your true appetite. It is widely accepted that exercise, along with eating to match activity level, can help individuals achieve optimal bodyweight. Exercise directly impacts appetite along with the individual’s resting metabolic rate, gastric adjustment to ingested food, changes in episodic peptides (such as insulin) as well as the amount of tonic peptides, such as leptin. So starting a new exercise program does not necessarily mean you will eat more; you may feel like eating less (hydrating more!), eating healthier or begin craving specific foods that your body needs for muscle repair. 
     
  5. Enjoy increased creativity, productivity, optimism, joy and confidence. When the body feels peaceful, strong, conditioned and purposeful, there is the potential for increased joy and confidence in daily life. Isn’t that what we want most? Research shows that exercise can enhance cognitive abilities related to creativity, productivity and optimism.

We are currently accepting new gym members, and during the month of January, 2016, you can take advantage of one month free with a three-month commitment. We invite you to experience our way of training in a strong community of men and women who seek to be their best every day, in every way, to live full and fulfilling lives.

Goals vs. Intentions

We recently did some goal-setting at the gym.

We focused on the areas of Mobility, Flexibility and Strength. We train to be better for everyday life, so many of our goals are related to improving moves and lifts, weights or times that are not easy for us.

A few of us also have specialized sports we enjoy so our strength goals have to support and work with those efforts as well.

There are always a few people who tell me their goal is to have a goal -- and that's okay too.

                                        Goals can be anything that challenges and excites you!

                                        Goals can be anything that challenges and excites you!

In every class, I see new goals emerge organically as we identify weak links in our bodies.

Turning weaknesses into strengths can help prevent injury and help us advance our training in ways we didn't know were possible.

Working to improve a snatch technique, or single-leg balance, working toward more ankle mobility, getting swings done with more weight, or with more ease, are goals that are attainable with dedicated practice.

Goal-setting is not a one-time activity. We may not realize it, but we do it every day, in little ways; you may consider them intentions rather than goals.

Goal-setting is a way for us to acknowledge potential areas of growth and to identify new challenges that excite us and give new focus to our physical and mental training.

It also helps guide me as your coach, to know what you feel needs improvement, to help you prepare and progress in ways that are meaningful to you.

There is some accountability involved when we state a goal out loud. Often goals are kept privately and that is fine too.

If we focus on daily intentions ... our little stepping stones of improvement, done on a regular basis, we can enjoy the strength journey, rather than be concerned about the end result.

If you’re bored with life - you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things - you don’t have enough goals.
— Lou Holtz

There is never a point at which we are done growing and improving; intentions / goals can be infinite.

Hopefully, put us on a path of self-growth, self-improvement and self-discovery.

I remember when I was practicing a lot of skills to prepare my body for the pistol squat; skills such as single-leg deadlifts, narrow squats, single-leg squat- to-box, single-leg squat on a raised surface, and  a lot of mobility/flexibility with hips, knees and ankles. I was preparing for the RKC-II so this was a goal imposed on me that I would not have worked on otherwise.

I learned a lot about my body and how to help others with this skill so it became a valuable goal. I rarely did full pistols in my preparation -- I had my daily intentions to work on I patiently progressed (over several months) to my goal of doing a pistol at the RKC-II.

A more traditional definition of a goal is this: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound (SMART). See a great article about this here.

Goals can help motivate us, dig us out of a rut and make training more interesting, especially if we are competitive-natured. Is anyone out there competitive? Yes, I thought so.

Goals can bring great changes to our routine and help us learn something new about ourselves in the process. If we aren't able to get to the goal -- our bodies might not be capable, and that's okay, as the journey is what matters most. ~Lori 

Strong Member Spotlight: Joanne Spoth

When Joanne joined MoveStrong Kettlebells a little over a year ago, she had also just started a new job as President and CEO of The Breathing Association. I was so impressed that she was willing to commit to a regular exercise program with her busy life, but she wanted to be her best in her new job, and for family, friends, and to do all the things she enjoys in life. She truly believes that fitness = health.

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Joanne has progressed in the all areas of movement quality, mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength. She doesn't bat an eye when we do Tabata-style workouts and she is expert at listening to her body. 

Her pressing technique is beautiful, as is her swing, and she moves mindfully through all the kettlebell movements, especially the Turkish Getup.

Joanne is an incredibly positive person, fun to have in class, and she is a committed athlete who loves new challenges. She inspires me and helps me be a better coach with her feedback and support.

It has been fun to watch her progress and to hear stories about how what we do in the gym has helped her enjoy the people, animals and activities in her life.

Here is Joanne's fitness journey in her own words:

Why did you start training at MSK?

Training with Lori and MSK was an easy decision.  I wanted to work with someone who was knowledgeable, willing to work with me vs. having a ‘cookie cutter’ approach and was willing to challenge me – safely.  From the onboarding process to the variation of exercises and skills learned in each session; every time I leave class I know I made the right decision.  Since my work is ‘office & schedule based’ I was also looking for a program that complemented my busy schedule. MSK provides that and more.

What improvements have you seen in your body and in your life?

Am I stronger, yes; do I have greater endurance, yes and am I resting and enjoying life more, yes.  Zip lining in Costa Rica last Thanksgiving was a blast; something I likely wouldn’t have tried had I not been working with Lori. I have always been ‘in tune’ with my body; more so since my (former) days as an ‘equine sports therapist’, but for sure I am seeing that my overall well-being has been affected.  Another big improvement for me has been the balancing of my lower body muscle groups in that I came in very quad dominant but I am much stronger and more flexible in my hip flexors, hamstrings etc.

What is the biggest surprise you've seen with strength training?

For me it is the applicability of the breathing, abdominal engagement, hip hinge and TGU; I use the techniques and steps from these movements throughout my daily activities.  They are seemingly basic movements but their capacity for better, safer and stronger movement is transformative whether it is working in the yard, moving packages, cleaning in the barn or throwing a bale of hay.

What are your favorite KB movements / lifts?

Of all of the movements, two-hand swings, Sumo style deadlifts and presses are my favorites.  While the single-arm and double-bell movements are not my favorites; I know that I am getting better with them over time and as my conditioning improves.

What advice do you have for people about strength training with kettlebells?

Kettlebells are for most everyone; no matter your age, condition or strength IF you have a qualified and dedicated instructor who is willing to help you with your goals.  I have worked out with other strength ‘trainers’ in the past and didn’t believe I would ever try again given the experience.  I am so very glad that I found Lori and MSK; it makes a difference when you are coaching with someone whose overall goal is your wellbeing and improvement.  Lastly, if you do choose to start working out; once you have the right instructor and program - stick with it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (as they say) and the only thing that is constant is change. That means you are building on what you learned, adding strength, and dealing with ‘life happens’ moments every day. 

Having the opportunity to work with a great coach; learn with others and enjoy getting stronger at MSK is one of the best decisions I have ever made. ~Joanne

Strong Member Spotlight: Scott Wemer

Scott's strength journey has been a lot of fun because it seems like every time he walks into the gym he improves his technique or lifts more weight. He has great mental focus and enjoys new challenges while being consistent and moderate in his training.

He excels at the standard barbell deadlift and he is climbing toward 400#.

His kettlebell pressing is very strong along with the swing and the snatch.

He had not done much bodyweight training previously, so his squat, pull-up and pushup have also advanced tremendously.

I think Scott was surprised by how much he would enjoy learning to use kettlebells and barbells; it is hard to believe this is a new skill-set for him as he moves so naturally making it look easy.

It has been fun to watch how his kettlebell training helps him excel in cycling and running with much less training time. 

Here is Scott's strength journey in his own words ...

What led you to start with kettlebells?

I had noticed a lot of my running friends had started strength training and their times had been improving. I decided that strength training was something I needed to add to my training and I saw an article about kettlebells. It struck me as a perfect way to strengthen my entire body and not just certain muscles. Then a few months later I saw this little sign that said “Move Strong Kettlebells” and I gave it a try.

What has surprised you the most about your strength journey over the last year?

I surprise myself all the time in class. I can do so many more pushups then when I started. I had never done a deadlift before, and now I can pick up 170% of my body weight. 

I just like the overall strength I have developed. I improve my PRs just about every time we go for them. I used to shy away from the challenging movements, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Now I like to give them a shot and surprise myself almost every time. I call that everyday strength! 

What are your favorite movements and lifts?

Before I started at MoveStrong, I had tried the Snatch and Turkish get up at home. I never quite got it, and I thought I was going to hurt myself. After learning the technique from Lori, I would say those are my favorite kettlebell movements. I like the mix of technique and strength you need. 

I think my favorite lift would definitely be the deadlift! I had never done that before I started at MoveStrong. I always look forward to “DEADLIFT DAY!”  

How has strength training helped you in other sports and in daily life?

I ran a quarter marathon a couple of months ago. I hadn’t run much leading up to it, but I was able to run the whole six and a half miles without running to prepare. It was not as fast as I had in the past, but I was able to run it all.

Then the next weekend I did a 100 mile bike ride, I hadn’t ridden 100 miles total in the 8 months leading up to it, but I completed it just fine, and my friends were quite surprised about how well I was able to keep up. Fast forward to now, my cycle training has caught up to my conditioning and I can ride up front with my friends who have many more miles riding. 

In daily life, well, I have received compliments about my appearance in the last few months.

What would you tell someone who is hesitant to start strength training?

I would tell them that whether you are 26 or 66 you will benefit from some strength training. You don’t need to be training for a marathon, or century ride to strength train. It doesn’t mean becoming a body builder. It helps your posture, gives you the cardiovascular endurance  and generally makes you look and feel better. I have a friend at work who started strength training earlier this year. She is diabetic and was taking 80 units of insulin a day. After training for a while she is down to 14 units. Incredible! I believe that when I am 70 I can still be out there enjoying life and not just watching it. 

Outdoors

I believe it is essential to get outdoors and be physically active while the weather is good in Ohio -- whether in a park or urban area. I kick my gym members out of the gym sometimes -- and some of them are cheering and others ... not so much.

Yes it's air-conditioned, structured and tidy in the gym, but getting outdoors is necessary to challenge the brain and body in a different way. We have to deal with the sun and heat, different surroundings,, the ground surface (some of us are barefoot.)

Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.
— Amy Grant

Today is Saturday and we did our Mobilizing Tight Muscles class outdoors surrounded by trees, with the sun peeking over the treetops, with a light breeze, birds chirping and a mix of urban sounds.

We use kettlebells a lot during our weekday training, so when we can mix it up with different methods and tools on Saturday, it's refreshing and invigorating.

I don't care what you say about fitness; if people aren't having fun, they won't keep it going.

So after our stretching class, we trained with battling ropes, wall ball, sledge-to-tire, sled pulls, sandbags moves, jumping rope, handstands, balance on curbs, pistol squat practice and some kettlebell juggling give the nervous system something new to process and a lot of growth and fun comes out of that process.

I love watching our members practice, learn and explore functional fitness in different ways. The opportunity for growth is boundless. Interested in joining us? We'd love to have you.

 

Listening to Your Body

Listening to your body is the most important skill you will develop in the gym.

Much like learning the kettlebell swing, or the barbell deadlift, it takes time and practice to become a really good listener.

Many of us have spent a lot of time ignoring signals from our bodies, so this may be something totally new for you.

I promise there will be times when you want to do something in your brain, but your body doesn't feel ready -- and you know it and ignore it any way.

I can't tell you how many times I have trained alone and raised the 24kg KB to start a getup -- only to put it back down. My body says no ... over and over and over. My head says yes over and over and over. But it doesn't feel right. I feel wobbly and unsure. Fortunately, I detest being injured, so I have learned to listen and react accordlingly. I will continue to listen because I have learned through experience that ignoring my body will result in an issue I will have to REALLY listen to later.

Listening usually requires a response. So do it. You know I support you. If you want to go lighter, sit out, go heavier, stretch, or go home. I will support whatever your body tells you to do.

Listening is the essential skill to keep you safe and safely progressing in the gym.

I can't feel what you feel. I wish I could. I joke about attaching a meter to you to get the same feedback you are getting. I wish it were possible.

I do see signs of what you are feeling, but I depend on you to confirm them. And most of the time, you are great about listening. You are learning to take charge of your body so that you know what to do and how to respond no matter where you are and what physical activity you are doing.

I believe that listening is the greatest PR you can ever achieve. 

And what you hear and feel will change constantly. Once moment you might feel strong and fresh and ready to bump up weight. In an instant, there could be a muscle twinge, or an empty feeling like you just ran out of energy. You could feel like you are on top-of-the-world, or tired from a lack of sleep the night before. You will experience so many scenarios that I can't even begin to summarize them here. There is never a moment off from listening, feeling, discerning and learning.

Here are some tips to improve your listening ability:

  • Nourish your body with food, sleep, water and rest so that you can really hear what your body is saying to you when you train in the gym.
  • Train with a coach who will guide you and help you discern what your body is telling you.
  • Never let a muscle twinge or joint issue, or anything that feels weird, go unnoticed. Stop, assess and address.
  • Pay attention to changes, such as a loss of balance, reduced grip strength, extreme tightness, light-headedness, an inability to concentrate, pain and so on. Listen and react.
  • If in doubt about how much is too much, take a day off and rest! Training should not deplete you; it should energize you.
  • Keep a journal to log how you feel or use our online skills tracking program to log results/concerns in the Notes section. Review often. Share with your coach if you wish.
  • Add some gentle movement and stretching outside the gym "to feel it out" if your body is sending you signals of concern. Address the signals now.
  • Talk with your coach if you have questions or concerns. Don't stay quiet because you don't want to call attention to yourself in class. I always want to know.
  • Listen during the training session, afterward, later in the day, the next morning, two days later and at the end of the week, month, year. How do you feel? Yep, listening, and therefore, learning, never stops. 

Being a good listener will help you keep your body safe in the gym and in your everyday life. 

Never lose sight of why you are training in the first place: to be healthy, strong and vibrant for life and sport. Nothing is worth compromising that overarching goal.