Know when to say when in the weight room

When you workout, you should always feel better when you’re done. If you were stiff, you should feel looser. If you feel achey, you should feel your body opened up. Oh, you may not enjoy the process, but once it’s done, you’re existence should be better.


Unless your name is Al and you suck at following your own training strategies. Since 2001, I’ve trained well over 600 people. Unless there has been structural damage of some kind, I have had about a 99% kill ratio against low back pain, knee pain, stiff muscles and the like.


Working with other people.


Trying to take care of myself, I’m probably hitting well below the Mendoza line. Which is .200 for you non baseball aficionados. Basically, hitting .200 means you better know how to say “would you like fries with that” because you will be working a drive thru instead of getting paid to drive in runs.


So, why am I bringing this up you ask? Because I’m trying to save you the hassle I put myself through today feeling tighter after I worked out than before I started.


How, oh great magician of all things muscle, is this possible? Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of genius at fixing the masses?


Yes, but my body is a complete mystery to me. Always has been.


I know that gluten makes me bloated, but there I am on Monday eating a sandwhich with fluffy rye bread that crushed me. On Monday I PR’d on my deads after eight hours of sleep on Saturday (48 hour lag time between what you do and when it affects you). Monday night, about four hours of sleep looking for Jill’s keys because SOMEBODY (who shall remained nameless, COUGH, LHP, COUGH) hid them. Strike two. I then, well, engaged in a pretty repetitive stress activity for my lower body that crushes my mobility Tuesday night. Otherwise known as riding my bike.


When someone’s back gets tight from a single leg dead lift exercise, it’s typically because the glutes, lats and erectors aren’t firing correctly. And in my case today, these muscles were were battling for who was going to work the least. And they were all winning.


When this happens, the typical strategy is hip mobilization, a little T-spine work, some bridging and then you’re typically back in business.


Makes sense right? If the opposing muscles to the glutes are getting in the way, you try to lengthen and mobilize them so you get better neural drive to bring the derier back online. If its a real stubborn situation, you roll the glutes, lats, adductors and low back.


It’s in every book I’ve ever read, podcast I’ve listened to and blog I’ve perused. And, it has always worked. Again, training other people.


So,what did I do today to try to fix myself? More of the same exercise. What else?


Um, what? Yep, instead of dialing back the workout so I could finish ahead of the game when it was done, I put the pedal to the floor board, gambled and lost.


Yes, I, Al Painter, am completely inept at fixing myself. There, I’ve admitted it, again. ARE YOU PEOPLE HAPPY???


So, knowing my lower body was pretty fatigued/locked up after a straight leg deadlift PR on Monday (I’m writing on a Wednesday), bloated and tight from a pretty rough bike workout on Tuesday, I tried to go back to the well one more time only to find it was bone dry.


What should I have done? LISTENED TO WHAT I TELL OTHER PEOPLE. That’s what.


Had I not had rectal cranial insertionitis, I would’ve:

1) Done t-spine windshield wipers

2) Dynamic psoas lengthening

3) A set of kneeling lat pulls

4) Then gone after the single leg deads again.


Had this not produced the desired result, I should’ve gone to 2-legged box squats with a kettlebell in the Goblet position. For you see, when one leg isn’t working correctly, you always go back to two in various states of regression, load/intensity reductions, etc.


Again, if I had a clue about training myself.


Had this not worked, same mobilization plan with some front foot elevated lunges to loosen the hip flexors/quads and maybe some farmers walks with some anti rotation holds thrown in to hit my core. Had this not worked (which at this point, all is typically well, and you’re usually over the hump), it would’ve been static psoas stretching for :90 then straight two-legged glute bridges with a light dumbbell on my hips or resistance band around my knees.


See, I violated one the first rules of training around discomfort: regress until you find the strategy that allows you to move forward. Instead of taking the hammer away that was causing the pain, I pulled out a bigger one and hit harder. Pretty stupid really.


This is the equivalent of the old Kenny Rogers song lyric of “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Well, I didn’t hold ’em. I didn’t walk away and I sat my ass at the table and paid the piper.


So, the point of this little diatribe? Learn from my mistake today and formulate your own exercise exit strategy to back off the gas pedal when a workout goes south. More times than not, you can successfully save your session if you use the right corrective exercises.


Now, if you will excuse me, instead of a post dinner shower, New Jersey Housewives (STOP IT! You know Teresa a train wreck you can’t stop watching!) and Lego Batman 2 DC Superheroes on my Nintendo 3DS, I have to do to some GD kneeling lat pulls, black band glute bridges and some dynamic psoas mobility so I can wake up feeling decent tomorrow, sighhhhhhhhhhhh……


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