One of the most common questions we hear from athletes as we are prepping for a workout is whether or not it is appropriate to increase the amount of weight (barbell, medicine ball, kettelbell, etc.) an athlete is using for a workout. I know some of you think the answer to that question is always "yes", but actually, there are a whole host of factors that come into play in making that decision. Let's explore some of those factors.
One of the things that happens as we workout consistently is that we get stronger and fitter. That's the point, right? The load that felt impossible only a month or so earlier can now be moved with far less perceived effort. That is adaptation. But rarely does our fitness remain at the status quo. It is either improving or declining. So we are faced with a choice. We can increase the load or we can perform the workout faster.
Intent of the Workout
Contrary to popular belief, these workouts are not dreamed up in my own private torture chamber. Every workout has a purpose, a plan, and a goal. Often we explain this goal in the workout briefing at the whiteboard. Some days the goal is to MOVE FAST! Other days we are working on efficiency and technique. Other days we are stressing our bodies under heavy loads. The intended stimulus of the workout is always a critical factor in determining the appropriate loading and modifications for the workout.
You've gone 4 days in a row and the Workout of the Day calls for front squats at 80% of your max load. You dutifully figure out the appropriate weight, then your coach comes by and tells you to take 10 pounds off the bar. "But coach", you say. "This IS 80%." Not on that day, it isn't. One of the benefits of having a coach is that we can take into account factors beyond what is written on the whiteboard. Up all night with a sick kid? Recovering from injury? Returning from vacation? Stressed about a presentation at work? Barely survived a tough workout yesterday? All of these are things that we take into account when helping you get set up for a workout.
As your coaches, we pride ourselves on getting every athlete where they need to be to get the best out of every workout. We do this by knowing our athletes, asking relevant contextual questions, evaluating movements during workout prep, and understanding the big picture of both the programming goal and your bigger fitness goals. Sometimes, in the flurry of workout prep, we don't stop to explain the factors that go into our recommendations, but never hesitate to ask us why. At the end of the day, the choice is yours. We are there to help guide you and most importantly, to keep you safe.