De-loading your Training for Fun (and Profit)

This month, I’m exploring the relationship between movement and rest. On the last Sunday of every month I meet with other Canberra movement practitioners to discuss our practice and move together. As a community, Sunday tends to be the day we all take a rest from our training.

But there’s a difference between resting by reading a book and resting by moving. We spent two hours learning mobility drills, playing, and dancing together. We weren’t training, but we still moved.

Intense Rest and Play

As it turns out, I’m de-loading my training this week too. As with rest days, in de-load weeks I still move. I move in a way that is less stressful, so it’s less tiring.

I do less volume with the same or increased intensity in what I do. Doing it this way helps you to figure out feels like to do more work without getting tired since you’re doing much less work overall. You can also de-load by decreasing the intensity but keeping the volume the same, but it’s not as fun. When you can work with more intensity, the possibilities open up. Maybe you can experiment with a heavier weight in your squat, or see what it feels like to do more pull-ups in a row. De-load sessions can be a lot of fun as you break through plateaus and see what you’re capable of.

As my movement practice deepens, my understanding of ‘rest’ is changing. I used to think rest was only when you stopped altogether. But rest is so much more than that.

Rest is an opportunity for you to take a break from the work, do less, be a little less serious, and play.

Working In

This month, I’m exploring the relationship between movement and rest.

Last week, I was recovering from an enormous amount of movement. It was also the first week of my new movement program, so I got to the end of the week feeling extrememly tired. So much for resting! That said, I only felt fully recovered once I was able to move fully again. So, this week I’m looking at ways to keep moving while still getting the required rest.

I found something you’ll love: I heard about the concept of ‘working in’ on a recent episode of the Onnit podcast. It’s about doing movements that bring more energy into the body rather than depleting the body. It’s resting movement! This working in article over at the C.H.E.K. Institute goes into a bit more detail about how to do a work-in. Essentially, it’s doing movements that don’t raise your heart rate or breathing above a rested state like gentle forms of yoga, tai chi, or qi gong.

Rest and Movement

I’m changing how I do things around here. Each month I will be working on a theme. Since I’m here to help integrate philosophy, eating, movement and a little geekery, I’ll be working through those aspects each week within the theme. I’m going to write here more often, but the posts will tend to be a little shorter than they have been. This will evolve as I go along, so I’m not going to explain much more in the hope that we’ll all figure it out together as I go along.

Rest and Movement

I’m on the bus on the way home from a Gymnastics Bodies Seminar. I’m bone tired but feeling good. This week is also the beginning of a new block of training in my standard schedule, so I expect to be very tired by the end of the week. A week of learning completely new movements will take it out of me. It’ll be a good week to focus strongly on rest even though I’m going to be working really hard.

So this month’s theme will be rest! It’ll be a short month since I’m starting a couple of weeks in so lets just roll with it.

Training and exercise is stressor on your body. The stress breaks down your body and signals it to improve. This improvement occurs during rest. But your body is lazy (you could say ‘efficient’) and doesn’t want to do anything it doesn’t have to do. You’re always looking for ways to make things easier, ways to avoid stress.

As I sit here, tired and sore from a huge amount of exercise, learning, and socialising; I’m looking forward to a stress-free rest day tomorrow. I knowingly walked into a very stressful situation this weekend, which is only possible because I know I can rest for a few days afterwards.

Embrace the rest in your life. Use rest to move more.

Dealing with Negative Self Talk

I definitely wasn't feeling like this guy... 

I definitely wasn't feeling like this guy... 

A few days ago I had a really hard day in my movement training.

I started my movement practice as usual, but everything was so fucking hard. I kept coming up to the line where a movement gets challenging (where you normally would push through and get a few more repetitions in) and finding that I had to stop. It felt like my body was giving up on me.

But I suspected that wasn’t really what was going on. I pay special attention to my self talk these days. And it was particularly loud on that day. And incredibly negative. Hmmmm….

The ‘voice’

The loudest ‘voice’ told me that I couldn’t do it. It told me to just stop. “Why bother?” it said. Strange… it wasn’t saying “you’re feeling a bit off today, you should take it easy”, it was saying “You can’t do this. You’re shit! Why are you even trying?”.

This sort of negativity in my self talk is pretty strange for me. It has happened before, but not for a long time. So I knew something was going on. Even though the voice was insisting that it was physical to the point that it felt physical, I knew it probably wasn’t. I hadn’t become weaker or less resilient overnight.

Self talk

The good thing about self talk is that it’s just talk. It’s not you. You don’t have to do what it says. But you should listen to it - that way you can learn something about yourself.

So what did I learn from that negative shit of a voice that day? How did I deal with it? First, I considered other information at hand. For example, I knew what the voice was saying was wrong. I can do these movements - I had done them before! Hell, it was a de-load session, so I wasn’t even working at full capacity!

So if I knew what the voice was saying was wrong, then how can I listen to it?

Somewhere within I found compassion for the voice. It was being negative, but I didn’t have to be. After extending some compassion I heard what it was trying to tell me.

“Take it easy today, things are a little off”.

Best friends again! 

Best friends again! 

Just a few minutes earlier this same voice had been swearing at me. The change in tone was incredible. It was just trying desperately to get my attention for fear that I’d think this was another thing to ‘push through’ as we so often do.

So I took it a little easier that day and my body and mind are best friends again.

Don’t assume malice!

Even when you have a very negative voice, it’s helpful to not assume malice. If you assume the voice is trying to hurt you, your resistance to it may deafen you to its message. What if you’re just scared of the movement? What if it’s lashing out to try to protect you? If that’s true, what could it be telling you that it’s not saying? How can you respond in a positive way to your negative voices?

Work with your body

When you have such an adversarial voice inside, it’s easy to just push against it. It’s swearing at you, so you get angry and swear at it! It’s not saying what you want to hear, you ignore it. You have to get the next set done or get through the next 10 kilometres on your bike. “No pain, no gain” you tell your self.

Pushing through hardship is part of how moving helps us. But it doesn’t mean we should totally ignore anything negative. Going back to my negative shit of a voice from earlier: that was unusual for me. I wasn’t experiencing unusual amounts of pain or hardship, but the voice was unusually negative. So I listened to it.

Ignoring voices like these creates an adversarial relationship with your body. Your body isn’t your enemy. Especially not in movement! You need to stress it out so it can respond, but it’s not your enemy. It’s more like tough love between friends.

Hearing and listening to what your body (and any ‘voices’ it may have) and responding with kindness is the way to go. Start to encourage and cultivate a relationship with your body that is kind and collaborative. Listen to it. You’ll find that it will listen to you when you ask it to do things.

Photos by Joshua Sazon and Fatih Altasov on Unsplash