“How You Feel is a Lie”
I first heard this quote in ~2010. It’s from a pretty brilliant coach named John Broz.
It was in reference of the Bulgarian Lifting System (derivatives of such are commonly called trendy names like “squat every day” these days in powerlifting circles). The sentiment of the quote was basically to just ignore how you were feeling, to STFU and to go train.
On the surface, it’s something that has resonated with me a LOT over the past 13 years and I’ve bitched out/outright skipped ONE training session because I didn’t feel like it.
What about the other side of the coin though? With the Bulgarian System being quite a “short term” strategy for most lifters, the idea of ignoring how you feel can’t be a good idea, right? Surely not in the long term?
Well, If you have no long-term training plan, then I think that it’s absolutely horrible advice. BUT, if you have a sound powerlifting program in place, then it might be a different story altogether. Assuming you’ve accounted for specificity, overload, fatigue management, etc., then the biggest obstacle many powerlifters will face is simply getting out of their own way and overvaluing short term readiness.
In the 13 years since I heard that quote, I can say with certainty that I have NOT felt like training a whole lot more times than I HAVE felt like training (before starting the session). Often this would come in the form of just being plain TIRED at the end of a workday when it’s time to go train. This has spanned a wide range of life events (including moving across the country to completely start over in Vancouver, BC), a career switch from cooking to coaching powerlifting and a whole lot of other crap.
I’ve pretty much always had a program/training structure in place for this reason. Winging it has just never worked. Having a daily target for my sessions, understanding when/where I need performance to be higher plays a huge role in my own personal success.
Similarly, as you advance, you won’t/CAN’T be at peak performance on every session. Most of the time, the best thing you can do is just show up for the session, stick to the plan and if it’s harder than you expect it to be, just stick to the plan and ride it out.
There’s a time and place for autoregulation approaches, but pre-emptively skipping a session or pre-emptively dropping your weight on your top sets before you’ve even completed a warmup leaves a TON of progress on the table and often you will surprise yourself with how much weight you can move in spite of how you felt before the session.
Go warm up and get a good session on. Lift some heavy weights.
How do you cater to your motivation + work around sessions where you’re just not feeling it?