Our brains need a break, both from everyday routines and, in particular, our workouts.
Over the course of time, doing the same thing day in and day out leaves us with a stale routine. Our workouts become drab and exhausting. There’s only one way to break out of that rut. We must experiment with something new from time to time to keep things fresh.
Routines can be powerful. We’ve talked before about how a standard morning routine frees up my mind for more creative pursuits later. However, this isn’t entirely true. Our brains continually make new connections and flush out old ones, even deep into adulthood (a concept called “neuroplasticity”). By changing up our inputs, our brain is forced to wire itself differently. This can help us to seek out previously unconsidered solutions and options.
Likewise, our body functions similarly. By asking it to only do the same things over time, we may see less progress. This adaptation is why you might see major results in the first 4-6 weeks of a workout program, only to then have them plateau over time. Our hormones, muscles, and cells are no longer being forced to adapt.
As with all of our pursuits, involving others and seeking out collaboration can often be the most effective solution. Yesterday, I worked out with a bodybuilder dude. I’ve witnessed this guy working his ass off on a day-to-day basis every time I stop in at Malibu Fitness. He’s worked hard for many, many months now, and I knew it might be a good place for me to try some fresh techniques.
Justin’s is a volume based routine. I know, intuitively, that rest is required for muscles to regenerate tissue. Without regeneration, there are no strength gains. Growth hormone and testosterone are produced during the rest periods, not during the training periods. The science backs this up. From a meta-study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Training with a mean intensity of 60% of one repetition maximum elicits maximal gains in untrained individuals, whereas 80% is most effective in those who are trained. Untrained participants experience maximal gains by training each muscle group 3 d.wk and trained individuals 2 d.wk. Four sets per muscle group elicited maximal gains in both trained and untrained individuals.
In other words, for optimal gains, volume-based routines are not ideal. However, all that said, I’m uber confident that giving my mind a break at this moment is more important than training optimally. I am absolutely 100% sick of my 5×5 workout. Anything was going to be less nauseating than my squat deadlifts bent over row overhead press routine.
We must’ve knocked out 35 to 40 sets of legs yesterday. I woke up this morning sore from my ankles to my waist. Normally, I take a day off in between my weight training workouts and run sprints. Today I have another session planned with Justin to work pulls, back and shoulders.
One thing that was abundantly clear yesterday during the volume-based workout with Justin was that I broke a strong sweat. Very generally speaking, my body is so used to the workout that I have currently in place that I don’t really sweat profusely and I miss that desperately.
As a side note, Justin drinks grape drink and egg whites throughout his workout. I felt like I was being transported back to 1997. I asked Justin what he likes to eat post workout and he told me white rice and pasta. Justin believes that we need to ingest straight glucose after our workouts.
I won’t be changing up my routine that much. I also don’t foresee sticking with a volume based training regimen for any significant length of time. However, in the short term, simply doing something different is freeing up my mind and body to adapt and improve. Action > bitching and complaining.