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June 14, 2022

155 | Choosing Your Season Of Training In The Gym

Choosing your season of training in the gym with Annie Miller

In light of watching some of the CrossFit qualifiers recently, and purchasing a new program myself, I thought it would be a good time to discuss how to choose the season of fitness that you are in. And also to acknowledge that when you’re doing this for the long-haul, it’s OK if most of your seasons consist of maintenance or working on small things. We don’t always have to be chasing big audacious goals. And also there’s nothing wrong with chasing big goals.

I figure it’s easiest to break this up in specific goals or types of seasons that you could be in within your training. And again, I want to make clear that this episode and my perspective is for someone who is weight training for the long-haul. And probably prefers to feel like they are training versus just working out. Because those are two very different things.

Just working out is exercising for the sake of exercising. So enter the person who is going to crossfit.com and picking a workout off of the website to do. We’re going to bodybuilding.com and downloading a template, we’re going on Instagram and doing a random work out that they saw. I personally have had seasons where that is how I worked out. And if you’re moving just to move your body, I really don’t see a whole lot wrong with that. But there are far more benefits to be gained by following a structured program, no matter what the goal is. And that is what we are discussing today.

Some seasons that we can look at could really be anything, but these are some common ones within the weight training world.

Strength, capacity, mobility or rehab, really hyper focusing on a weak link, improving conditioning, training certain skills, or trying a new type of training all together.

Nothing is to say that these things can’t be worked on at the same time. But everything can’t be a priority at the same time. While we work on some things, other things are going to take a backseat and/or be maintained.

So don’t think that all of these seasons work as an on/off switch. You can absolutely be working max strength in your main lifts and still working to improve our capacity in your accessory work.

And now I ask you what season do you either want to be in with your training, or what season are you currently in if you have an actually defined it?

For myself, I am 15 1/2 weeks pregnant during the recording of this episode, and I would consider the season that I am in with my training as a pre-hab stage. It’s a preparation phase. I know I am not special, meaning that women all over the world give birth to babies under all sorts of circumstances. Every human on earth came to be through a woman. So my body is not special in that sense. But, I would like to feel informed, and educated through the process of preparing my body to give birth. And to also maintain as much of my muscle mass as I can.

This would be similar to a rehab stage. Where it’s going to be very vital for you to not compare what your current body can do with what your past body could do. It’s going to be very important to focus on what you can do, and having a plan around that, so that there is indeed a process to trust. That is why I personally purchased a program from mamastefit.

From weeks 12 to 15 I did three workouts per week on my own, incorporating some more core, breathing, and hip work. But I just know that I would prefer to follow a tried and proven program that someone else has written. It’s the same exact reason that anybody else purchases a program.

What’s most important when choosing a season or a goal for your training, is to be realistic with what’s happening outside of the gym. It’s no wonder that at my strongest, I had the least amount of life stress, and I was napping once a day on a strict schedule. I was able to fill myself very well for my training, and my life and training fit together like a glove. Which allowed me to push very hard, and mentally prepare for my lifting sessions.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. There are certain times in life where it’s just easier to push hard, and you have more mental space to devote to your training. And remember that I am talking to normal people. Not competitive athletes, not powerlifters, people who are just lifting weights for life.

If you’re currently in a very busy season of life and you can still stay dialed in with your diet and your recovery then absolutely continue to push hard in the gym. Your biomarkers will let you know if you need to back off.

So let’s say that life is just picking up a lot, and your training is taking a hit. That’s not to say that you can’t still have training goals. They might just change. It might be a season where you pick 2 to 3 skills that you would like to work on while maintaining some strength and capacity. Or maybe you choose to do a phase where you back off of the weight a bit, and push volume and capacity with lighter weights. That can be a bit more mindless for people and they can get in and get out in less time. Because lifting lighter weight often requires less preparation, and less rest time between sets. There is in fact a science to all of this.

I did this during the pandemic with several clients who either didn’t have access to weights, or just needed to back off the stress that came from pushing their body to high exertion in the gym. We chose things like handstand walks, and pistol squats, as movements to learn and focus on as new skills in the gym. This kept training fun, and there was still a focus.

That’s really what I want you to get from this episode. Is that even if your focus changes in the gym, or you shift from what you were used to to something else for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have goals and a focus in your workouts.

As you can see, often times outside factors can affect what you were doing in the gym and what makes the most sense. You can of course also just have new desires.

Oftentimes after someone has lifted heavy, and done the same movements and style of training for years, they desire to switch it up. And I actually think that that is intelligent for the long-haul, and longevity of your body.

I am the biggest supporter of squat, hinge, push, pull and carry, but also it’s likely that we benefit from exposing ourselves to different types of training and variations of movement patterns.

If you are in this for the long-haul, don’t be afraid to take a break from your current style of training to explore other styles of training. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You could absolutely incorporate some kettle bell movements or complexes to practice before your normal lift. You could start using TRX or rings in addition to your normal training. You could enter in to the world of calisthenics.

There is so much out there to be explored in the world of movement, while being in the long-haul for weightlifting, don’t restrict yourself to that being the only type of exercise you ever do. Your body will likely thank you for it.

So, we’ve discussed seasons of pushing strength, or pushing capacity, or backing off in order to focus on new skills, changing up your training style, and then there is completely backing off.

Not a single deload week, but a season of low impact, low central nervous system stress, mobility and walking status season.

And yes, I have a 100% taken my one on one clients through these types of seasons. At least for a month. In fact I just had a one on one client who did this with me. There were signs within her training that just said her body needed an extreme break. And none of the factors outside of her training we’re going to change as far as stress and her work and her schedule, so training was what needed to change. We needed to alter the season of training that she was in. And keep in mind that that was so that we could enter another season. We had to slow down in order to speed up.

I don’t know what season you are in right now, but I hope that this helped you think about it, and or come up with what season you would like to enter into next with your training.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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