Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Self-Sabotage at the Gym, Part III

In Part I, I discussed conflicting goals.
In Part II, I discussed choosing the wrong program for your goal.
Finally, let's look at the biggest piece of self-sabotage you'll find:

#3: Sabotaging your own progress. This comes in a number of forms. For example, if your goal is to gain muscle mass and get stronger, but you watch the scale and panic (and diet!) when it goes up, you're sabotaging your own progress. If you're dieting and trying to lose fat, but you worry when your strength dips a bit or you look smaller and eat a bit extra, you're sabotaging your own progress. Even if you chose compatible goals and a good plan, if you react poorly to the results of your own training, you won't get where you say you want to go.

You'll see this when people have a goal weight and then find that although their pants or dress size is dropping and they feel stronger and better, the scale isn't cooperating and reads a high number. So they'll diet a bit more, lost the muscle, maybe put on a bit of fat, and then consider the plan - or the trainer, or the goal, or themselves - to be a failure.

You'll see it when someone takes a run at a new PR for a big exercise and then panics during deload week - oh no, the weights are so low, I'm missing good training time - and adds extra work that only slows progress.

It's simply being unable to see the big long-range picture and forget about some of what comes with it.

A good example of this was mentioned in an article about Mark Rippetoe. Mr. Rippetoe said:

"Let's say you put on 40 or 50 pounds in six months. That's going to have a huge impact on how you look and how strong you are.

But let's say you do the 'gotta keep my razor sharp abs' horseshit. You'll be lucky if you gain eight or nine pounds. What do you think is going to have more effect on how you look? 50 pounds, 30 of it muscle, or 8 pounds?"

A classic example of chasing two goals (being lean and being big) that aren't going to mesh well together, and sabotaging your own goals (wanting to gain weight, but fearing fat gain so much you don't gain as much overall as you could have).

I hope this short series was helpful to you. I've seen many of these too often, and I haven't even been at this too long. It's frustrating to watch someone set a conflicting goals ("I'll lose weight and gain muscle mass!"), or choose a bad plan for it ("I'll gain muscle mass with this extremely cardio-heavy program!"), or just sabotage themselves ("My muscle mass plan was working but I gained 5 pounds so I needed to diet for a few days...")

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  1. 1) Thanks for donating Peter!

    2) Great post. I get this from guys all the time. "I wanna get huuuuuge." Then I tell them to eat more and they're like "I don't want to get fat." It's kind of perplexing to me.

  2. Ahahahaha
    Wonderful post, Peter!
    This is what we find at the all gym in world hahaha

  3. Jason - you're welcome. Sorry it's so little, but I figure every little bit helps.

    And yeah, perplexing is the word. It's one thing to have limited goals - gain a little weight while maintaining low body fat - and have expectations in line with that. But if you have a big goal (get huge!) but don't want to take the consequences of what you need to do that. It's like wanting to get strong but not lift heavy weights. How do you expect to get there otherwise?

    Diego - thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!


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