Today was one of those very special days in the gym. A day where the weights all felt very light and I was completely and totally focused on the workout. Today was an Alpha Day. Further explanation after the jump.
The warmup sets seemed a bit easier than usual on squats, but when I started on my actual heavy sets, I was absolutely destroying the weight. I normally have to breath heavily and pause between reps around number 8, but I flew past 10 and just decided to do 15. Some of you may not be fans of ignoring your plan and doing a different number of reps based on how you “feel,” but there was really no way I was going to limit myself on a day like today. I added an extra 5 lbs to bench and an extra 10 to my deadlifts and completed all target reps.
Because I felt I had an especially effective workout, I ensured that all other factors were in order that day. That is to say, I ate a huge, nutritious meal after the workout and went to be early to ensure adequate recovery. Although it may be obvious, it pays to step back and remind yourself that you do not actually grow in the gym, you merely provide the stimulus for the body to do so, and so the recovery is equally important, and probably even more so after a day where three major exercises increased in weight.
Now, given how I felt today, I also think it’s appropriate to discuss how to deal with the other kind of significant day at the gym: a day where you’re tired, the weights feel heavy, and you’re generally sluggish. Let’s call these beta days. When I first started training I would always power through these days, always thinking that my tenacity would prove me to be different than the simpletons that just gave up when the going got hard. Believe me, tenacity and dedication are important, but it really pays to understand when you need a little bit of extra rest. The cost of overtraining is significant, and so I’d urge all of you to know when to back off for a session or two and really allow for full recuperation. Sometimes I’ll even stray off my diet for a bit during this time just to allow for a mental release. It’s my personal belief that the physiological “damage” you could do by eating crappy food is vastly outweighed by the benefits of taking a mental break. Terribly un-scientific, I know, but still, just a personal belief.