Sunday, December 02, 2007

Resistance and Momentum

...Really are the keys to growth--Any growth.

There's a group of "enlightened" individuals in the strength training industry who dictate slow even tempos while training to avoid momentum while lifting. They also eschew any ballistic lifting seeing it as too dangerous and derived almost exclusively from momentum to be of any real benefit to strength trainers. However, the late Dr. Siff pointed out all movement begins with momentum, no matter how slight.

And as it is in the weight room, so it is in life.

Apparently, I've been burning the candle at both ends without knowing it, which explains the lack of blogging for the last 9 days. I was at our friends house last Saturday for dinner, had 2 Newcastle's with dinner (I usually only have one or some wine) and then spent 45 minutes or more in the hot tub after dinner. I was done for. I don't know what it was exactly, but it seemed everything fell apart. When I got out, everything hurt. I don't suppose it helps that I don't fit in the hot tub--I have one of those extra long torsos which makes staying fully immersed a little difficult and causes you to scrunch down. Somehow, Sunday, I was able to train--barely after sleeping at least 10 hours. Monday through Wednesday I don't remember much about, only that I was hyper-loading Vitamin B5 in an attempt to keep my brain working without slurring my words or transposing words in sentences or completely blanking out mid-sentence.

It was bad. Very bad.

Tuesday, I had to go home mid-afternoon and take a 90 minute nap. Training was the furthest thing from my mind.

The only thing that kept me going in my business was momentum. (And my clients' graciousness I suppose.) When you've been training clients as long as I have, it seems you can do this almost on autopilot, unless of course somebody throws a wrench in the works. Fortunately, no one did.

This was a form of resistance for me. And for the first time in life, it seems I didn't get upset about not training. I relied on the momentum I had generated in the last month or so to carry me through the rest of this cycle. So on Thursday, after 3 days of barely doing any physical activity, including Z, I climbed back under the bar to hit Tuesday's squat session. The weight, 325lbs, felt like a ton of bricks and I wondered if I were about to get crushed, even though the previous Friday's 335 felt like a hot knife through butter. I banged out the program, a 3x5 with 3 minutes rest. The last set my CNS finally got the message and woke up.

Life is the same way I recently discovered. If I just move despite the resistance, I build up momentum and start moving closer toward the goal. Too many of us forget this valuable lesson and give up at the first sensation of strain or discomfort.

Yesterday, I went to the platform and banged out some very easy, very light snatches and cleans, just to get moving.

And today, I climbed under the bar again at my studio, where the weight always seems heavier than anywhere else, and faced the resistance. The resistance took the form of doubt this time--doubt that I had the energy to do the work. It turned into an exercise of faith and then a process of worship of my Creator. Tonight's session was 355lbs or 160kg, depending on where I decided to train, for a 3x5 in the back squat with a 3 minute rest. 315 felt heavy but do-able. So as an exercise of faith, in order to overcome the resistance of doubt, I used the momentum I had created and knocked off my first set. It felt relatively easy and my technique was certainly better than it was on Thursday with 3olbs less.

The second set was challenging.

And the third set was pretty unbelievable.

To be honest, I don't know where the strength came from. This is a new paradigm in training for me. I just step out, squat down, and trust that my body will have the strength to stand up. My mind isn't even part of the equation it seems. Or perhaps it's my emotion. Whatever the case, it's new and different. No psyching. Nothing. Just down and up. And down and up.

I think success in life, however one measures it, is as simple as that: Using the momentum of getting moving to overcome any resistance which in turn makes you stronger, and much more likely to achieve your goal: Take the mind out of it--Don't think, just do.

Tonight's training:

A. Back Squat: 355/5 x3; 3 minutes rest
B. Military Press: 185/5 x3; 3 minutes rest
C1. Chins: Bdwt/6 x3; 60 secs. rest
C2. 2 Hand Swings: 130lbs/10 x3; 60 secs. rest

Tomorrow I may do some light KB complexes for recovery and definitely some Z.

I shall decide on Tuesday whether to keep going for a second cycle of 3x5 or make a quick switch on the fly for a transition week of 5x3 before the 2 week taper of 3x3. I'm assuming my body will know by then.


Blogger Joe said...

Momentum is a wonderful concept when you apply the correct forces to move at optimal efficiency and effectiveness. No matter what I am a believer that momentum will carry you to great distances and great achievements especially if you are willing to travel that lonel;y extra mile that so many have never and will never encounter.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Mark Reifkind said...


dude you know why the best thing that goes with really heavy lifting is a lot of sitting around with the legs up and a protein drink in your hand,lol!one can only handle so much stress and load and lift heavy regularly.even though you got through it be careful that momentum isnt masquerading as adrenaline, that'll whack you back fast!
perhaps give yourself some more rest times/sets. that should take you off the nerve a bit.
rest up buddy.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Right on the money with that comment, Joe. Most people won't travel that extra mile.

And Rif, I hear you loud and clear. I hit a BIG post-workout drink after that session. I hit a light KB complex tonight with the 24kg and something tells me I'm going with the 5x3 transition tomorrow, with a reduced load of course.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Tim Anderson said...

I'm trying to learn how to not be upset when i don't train too. You wrote a blog a few weeks ago about lifting, or being strong, not defining who you are. That hit me hard. Now i'm trying to learn to let go once in a while. Great post.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I feel you brother. I have been burning my candle from the middle and both ends getting ready for the move. Rest is the way to go. It is very hard for people like us to slow down we often see this a failure. This of course is no the case but it is hard to tell your brain that. Rest up!!!

3:45 PM  
Blogger Franz Snideman said...

Totally agree Geoff about Momentum!
I saw a video of Mel Siff talking about this at a Canadian Seminar. He gives the analogy of a pro tennis player waiting to return a serve. If the tennis players moves back and forth, the player has more of an opportunity to generate force quicker than if he were flat on his feet, and standing perfectly still.

Next time you watch a Pro Tennis match, notice how much movement the players makes while waiting for the serve....truly a testament to what you and Mel Siff say!

Loved the post!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Mike T Nelson said...

Great stuff Geoff! Everyone needs to learn to listen to their body and it is a razor thin line at times between being too tired to train effectively or too lazy to train. Most of the time I tried to train, modify it or sometimes just scrap the session all together. I am learning to take that feedback as part of the journey.
rock on
Mike N

12:47 PM  

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