08 November 2010

You Cannot Adapt Without Actually Adapting

Astute, no?  I titled this entry as such not to be a half-assed Yogi Berra, but as a reminder to myself.  I've come to the realization, once more, that autoregulation only works if you actually pay attention to what your body is telling you and adapt accordingly.  Take this case study, for instance.
  1. Lifter doubles workload in preparation for a powerlifting meet.  He simultaneously halves his calories in an effort to shed bodyfat as quickly as possible.  The last day prior to the meet, lifter eats and drinks nothing, then kicks ass at the meet.  Lifter is unsatisfied with his effort, however, and decides to only take three days off after his meet and then re-embark upon the same training routine, but with periodic attempts to drastically increase workload to force physical adaptations while following a less strict diet.  This means up to and including 11 heavy sessions a week, as opposed to 6 heavy and 5 light, as he'd been doing previously.  This is where the fun begins.
  2. After a week of 3 hour to hour-and-a-half ultra-heavy and three moderate squat sessions, lifter's legs cramp uncontrollably.  To compensate, lifter switches to deads the following week.
  3. More cramping of the back and legs ensures.  Lifter switches to one arm deadlifts every morning, and three weekly nighttime sessions.  In his arrogance, lifter turns to chat with someone while doing a one arm deadlift with 315, causing his right leg from the hip down to become irrevocably fucked.  Pain shoots through his hip girdle, his IT band knots up like some dickhead pirate decided to practice square knots on it for a week, and his lower back feel like it's got a white-hot knife in it all the time.
  4. Lifter then switches to clean and jerks, every morning, to work on form and stretch out the forearms and legs.  More cramping in the leg results, followed by tremendous knotting in the brachialis, brachioradialis, and all of the silly little dickbag tendons tying the upper forearm into the elbow joint.
  5. Thus, in his last workout, he was reduced to machine bench pressing, which pissed off his right shoulder.
  6. He is now a cripple.
I'm the guy with the RPG, but I'd have it pointed at myself.

In case you hadn't guessed it already, the above lifter is me.  I somehow managed to transform my general mindset of "fuck everyone, I rule" into "Fuck you body! Rule more!"  That, my friends, was a mistake.  As I lost use of bodyparts, I increased the workload, massively, on everything else as I kept my total workload constant and dropped lifts from my grab bag.  I was effectively punishing the rest of my body for losing the ability to train the parts that were pissed at me, and ended up spending 6 hours trying to roll out knots (unsuccessfully, for the most part) in my back, shoulder, hips, and legs with a Theracane, tennis balls in a sock, and my knuckles all day yesterday.  I've spent the entire morning today with my left forearm pinned between the arm of my chair and my desk surface, trying to grind out the knots in my forearm.
Considering getting all Evil Dead on it.

Not a good time.  Though I probably should have had a period of reflection as the whole deal started to turn south, I was so convinced that I could force my body to do what I wanted that I ignored every sign to the contrary.  Mike Tuscherer recently commented on this phenomenon, and stated:
"You have to know when enough is enough. This will really be common sense, but we Powerlifters tend to toss that aside sometimes.
If you feel an injury coming on, stop. If you’re not confident in hitting a weight, should you be doing it in training? If you’re too tired to maintain focus, call it a day. The list goes on.
These are really important for everyone, not just solo lifters. But for the solo lifter, the stakes can be higher." (source)
Thus, autoregulation only works if you actually listen to your body and regulate your training accordingly.  I have not been doing that, and failed to recognize every single signal my body sent me.  I started taking being in massive amount of pain and cramping all over,  hurting from the time I got up to the time I went to sleep, having my upper back seize up when I coughed, etc, all for granted.  That's pretty fucking stupid.  Even more stupid, however, is that I didn't recognize that my body was screaming at me to chill the fuck out, rather than suggesting that I increase the workload drastically on anything that wasn't already killing me.
At this point, using my Theracane's kind of like pissing on a housefire.

So, what does this show us?  You might be the master of your domain, and you can employ all of the mind power you want, but at some point, you may be doing more harm than good.  Thus, if you've come to the realization that you've been flogging yourself like a fucking donkey all day long, for weeks, to drag ass into the gym, you might be spinning your wheels at best.  Take a good long look at what you've been doing, and adapt your training to fit your environment.  As such, you should not leave your volume at the same level as it was when you were totally healthy, drop exercises, and continue on- adapt your volume to match your work capacity.  This way, you won't beat your body into a shambles while you recover.
Me, on the way to my last workout.

If you want a bit more scientific method for determining your level of recovery for a given day's workouts, you can try Tuscherer's TRAC system.  It's a comprehensive bit of software (by its appearance) that should help you figure out when you need to dial it back a bit, based in large part on the Bulgarian biometric system.  Unless it's got krieg sirens and lights that go off if your death is imminent, it likely won't be of much use to people like me, but at the very least it will be a fun tool for the tool box, and a nice counterpoint to stories about Stoitsov barely being able to walk and still hitting PRs after forcing himself to hit the gym.

It's all about the journey, not the destination.  Every journey has some detours, switchbacks, blowouts, and sundry other fuckups.  We all make them- the key is to learn from them.  As such, I'm taking this time to reevaluate everything I'm doing, from my lifting routine to my diet, and trying new and old variations to see if I can both spur recovery and improvement simultaneously.  This doesn't mean that I scrap everything- it means I look back on my training and dieting to recall exactly what worked, when, and to revisit something that I used to do or incorporate something new, all while working within the basic framework of what I know to be useful for me.  This is what everyone should do on a free-wheeling regime like Chaos and Pain, but occasionally those of us who are a bit hard-headed might need our bodies to jump up and bitchslap us as a reminder.

Get introspective, then get brutal.


  1. You'll recover then you'll kick ass again :) Btw how are now your lifts and bw? Have you improved since the meet that you crushed shite at?

  2. Jamie, you should look into the gym movement protocol. I asked you about it before, and looked it into. I find myself doing tons of volume, and the shit is becoming effortless. check out the Grip and Rip DVDs put out by Adam Glass (adamtglass.com).

  3. You could've just said you overtrained.

  4. Where are these stories about Stoitsov?

  5. Jamie, you have done what many will never do-
    You have pushed it to the limit.
    Walked along the razor's edge.

  6. You've mede yourself your own bitch, which turns to be a bad way to fuck yourself (in opposition to masturbation, which is the best way you can possibly fuck yourself). Truly remarcable...

  7. Safety is not guaranteed.

  8. You under-ate and under-slept.
    The Barbarian Brothers are disappointed in you.

  9. Saddest C&P article ever.
    Get a grip man and crush some shit lift when you're done recovering.

  10. eat some more soy cookies jaime

  11. If Stuart McRobert wrote this article, you would call him a pussy.

  12. Seems to fit in with injuries = overtraining, not some vague boogeyman.

  13. Muhaha. Nice post.

    Reminds me of a few weeks back. I go to the gym and just feel like shit. My moods bad. Even angry deep squats aren't helping. I start doing my military presses and just feel more and more like "fuck it, maybe I should just go home this once". I then decide to go down in weight, and bust out like 6 maybe 7 sets of military presses with less weight than what I usually did.

    I go home after my quick session, remind myself I can just go back to the gym. Next day, military press is up 5 kg. Not too bad for the day after a bad day.

  14. Time to man up and quit sucking. go sleep a couple o days and eat a side of beef and get back and crush it!!

  15. Anon internet posters sure do know a lot about weight training.

    Sure their lifts may be 1/2 of the writer's lifts, but they sure know what to do!

  16. Good post. Rest is something overlooked by one too many people, IMO. It's great to give lots of time to lifting and training hard, but foam rolling/rest/AR work is just as important.

    Good luck with your recovery, I hope it's speedy and that you start feeling better soon. :)

  17. Christine can I get a wine bottle signed by you?

  18. lol wtf did I just read

  19. Yeah i'll sign a wine bottle for you, if you can wrestle it out from between my fucking piss flaps first.

  20. See, I fucking warned you what would happen!!! At least there's no chance of you harming your knees with your squat form. I've watched your video, you barely fucking bend them.

  21. Fuck whoever keeps posting in my name. Your shit is not entertaining. Please do something with your life other than acting like a jackass.

    Jaime, I will continue to read your blog - I won't be commenting anymore, though.

  22. SI second Pter 'Fucking' baker' referral to Adam T. Glass et al's stuff.

    The 'movement protocol' fits very well with/is synonymous with autoregulation. The difficulty with autoregulation is that most of us suck at reading our own physical clues. As Broz says: how you feel is a lie. His trainees have him to watch and tell them to back off when their form becomes dangerous. But what about us lone wolves?

    Well, the 'movement' guys have come up with an objective way of judging what to do today. The theory is that if a movement makes you immediately move less well (e.g. you're less flexible after a set of deadlifts than before) back off or do another exercise.

    This needn't mean that you end up doing concentration curls every day for a week because they happen to test well. But it can help to determine whether today should be (a) a 1RM day followed by back-off sets of 90% or 80%, (b) a 10 X2 90% day, (c) a 10 X 3 80% day, (d) a 5 X 70% day, or (e) a day away from that exercise. I.e. it works perfectly well for Bulgarian-type training - but it helps to circumvent the mind which, like it or not, wants to act as through progress is linear.

  23. Everytime I see a Stoitsov pic, my eyes go straight to his quads. They are IN. SANE.

  24. Fuck that shit.
    Rest when you're dead.

    ...the way I see it, if there's an exercise that's really fucking you over and you feel like you're going to blow a tendon if you do one more set, just go hardcore on something completely new for a while.
    Think back to the first time you started doing a badass lift every day. You got way stronger in a hurry, probably.
    So if you're fucked in one area, go kill yourself in something fairly unrelated.
    (Speaking in general here, not necessarily directed at Jamie, who's strength-training knowledge is no doubt greater than mine.)

    Ex: right now, I cannot squat to save my life. I can barely get out of bed in the morning because my knees hurt so bad. I guess that's what I get for going balls out on back squats every day for 4 1/2 months.
    So, I concede, I must give my legs/back/knees time to get their shit together.
    But what to do in the meantime?
    Fuck no.
    I'm going to get that goddamned one-arm pullup.
    I'm going to work that shit until my elbows explode, same as I did for squats.
    Rope climb, pullups, muscle ups, etc. all day every day until my arms fall off.

    PR or ER...

  25. LMFAO at the trolling

    sucks being injured. Good luck though Jamie. You'll bounce back.

  26. some time ago you wrote about
    Maxick - "muscle control" system
    - ever used it for recovery?

  27. Christine, you could post logged in then you will have your pic beside your name and it will be clear if it's you or not.

  28. I don't blame her, and "way to go" to the ass-wipe that gets his kicks for dragging her into this nonsense.
    You are right about the picture appearing, but people don't always notice, etc.
    Maybe the answer is that Jamie should moderate on that stuff?

  29. Maybe the answer is that you fuckheads could grow some balls and use your own fucking names. Even some goofy, made up screen name shows more guts than hiding behind "Anonymous." Try being a flagrant racist, perverted stalker or judgemental prick when you have to actually face the almost non-existent consequences of pissing someone off. There's nothing but phonies who run their mouths around here.

  30. Until Jamie requires names, this will continue.
    By the way, the fact that you use your name, shows nothing, except how you are incredibly judgmental, not to mention stupid, and frequently wrong in your opinions about other people that participate on this blog.

  31. Well I took your comment really hard so here I am.

    Now I'm pretty sure if the next article of this blog is of the same genre, I wont be a member of it for a long time.

    Go harder when you're done recovering and stop crying.

  32. I've got the balls to be called judgmental, stupid and frequently wrong, junior. That's more than anybody can say for you. Afraid to be yourself because your self doesn't measure up.

  33. thought this was a good article, reminded me of when I first hurt my back from deads (at the time I didn't know I had a messed up curve in my lower back, which was what caused the injury). Its important when dealing with injuries that people realise it wasn't that one small thing you did that blew out your back or knee or whatever but the culmulative effects of months of poor form, mismanaging training, general stupidity or a combination of all three. You have to accept that if you are injured you did something wrong and go back and examine what you were doing to progress further.

  34. CHRISTINE'S WINE BOTTLENovember 10, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Haha. Who cares if Christine left? She was never here in the first place. It's the internets lolz

  35. My name is Robert Trettin and I'm so against this stuff...

  36. I know not what your philosophy about taking supplements is, but you should definitely look into supplementing with magnesium. Especially the muscle cramps and tight muscles in general are a sign of magnesium deficiency.
    Do not use crappy forms like magnesium oxide or carbonate though, but rather use a combination of magnesium malate, magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate.
    In addition, utilize transdermal magnesium: take Epsom salt baths and possibly use magnesium oil.

  37. I'm a pretty big fan of Epsom salt baths. I think they help, though I'm not sure if it's the heat or the salts or both.

  38. Epsom salt baths would be great if I could get more than my legs into the tub.

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