Episode 70. Learning to Calibrate Training Intensity and Pattern Recognition
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Scott wanted to talk briefly about an interview with Tom Brady, where he felt there were important lessons about making training progress in the real world.
Calibrating Training Intensity
In the interview, Brady mentions there’s a difference between working hard, and then “working hard at the right things” and then “working hard at the right things consistently.” He says too many athletes work hard at the wrong stuff and then see no benefit, so they double down and get hurt or burned out (or as Scott adds: overtrained). This is one reason why, as we’ll see below, it’s not one thing, it’s everything. Various elements of training influence one another. For example, doing the “wrong stuff” is already wrong, but on top of that, it also tends to cause some athletes to double down and hurt themselves. Whereas if someone is doing a program that works, they’re more likely to ride the wave of progress it’s giving them, without panicking and driving themselves into the ground.
Key quote from Brady: “It’s not one thing, it’s everything.”
This is because various elements tend to feed into and mutually reinforce one another. Getting a good sleep helps you train better, and training better helps with sleep. Having good nutrition helps with training, and training helps with hunger, cravings and motivation. Aside from the obvious benefits of doing so, sticking to a program for a reasonable period of time allows you to learn to feel what the “mastery phase” of a program should feel like, and this gives you (the trainee) insight into the cumulative realms of time with respect to training effects — something “program hoppers” will miss out on —. All these things, taken together, add up. Doing “just one thing” won’t have the same effect as doing all these things together.
Progress is not always measurable. If you’re training for physique development, strength is not the only indicator of progress, and yes, it is FINE for your weights not to go up for months.
Often, your 1-RM won’t go up, but what Scott calls your “strength density” will improve. This means maybe your 5 X 5 of squat doesn’t improve, but the intensity with which you’re able to hit isolation work later on in the workout is slowly improving over time.
Scott thinks the phrase “All it takes is all you’ve got” is downright misleading. What is “optimal” is not always what is “maximal.” Optimal is optimal!
Yes, you can nudge or edge your way into the “red zone,” just to be sure you’re not being lazy, but be careful and be aware of what you’re doing. This is just about being realistic and honest. There’s no secret.