Summer has passed and fall is making itself welcome. Beyond the temperature drop and the colorful foliage, the transition from summer to fall changes life’s rhythm. Lackadaisical time-passing is overcome by tighter schedules and shorter days. It’s a season poised to disrupt your training progress.
As seasons change, so must we. Let’s talk about a few ways to adapt to fall and keep our summer training momentum.
For survival, our brain has evolved to recognize patterns. That’s why we’re so good at distinguishing and remembering faces. But we also quickly become accustomed to patterns . Think of how exciting driving was when you were sixteen, by seventeen it was standard procedure.
Progression into autumn is a grand opportunity to alter our training patterns and satiate our brain’s hunger for novelty. We’ll frame the rest of our discussion through change’s novelty producing lens.
Change Your Expectations
We sometimes delude ourselves into believing we can operate at maximum intensity year-round. Then reality teaches us a harsh lesson via overtraining, injury and the like.
Expecting to maintain summer’s enhanced training pace through fall’s busier schedule is a means to self-destruction. It’s a sure way to overshoot your training reality, create immense and unnecessary stress, and feel defeated. Inevitable results include an injury-sponsored training break, or a mental overload that diminishes training motivation.
Approach training by understanding that you’re operating with less available time and curtail your efforts into a smaller training window. Your six-day per week training extravaganzas are passed. Use your condensed training time with intense focus and the results keep coming.
Change Your Goals: Forget Abs, Remember Mass
Traditionally, summer training is a hunt for pure aesthetics. Fall foods, however, are carb heavy and calorically dense, a far cry from summer’s lean proteins and ab-producing, vegetable-laden dishes. Let’s use fall calories to our advantage.
If you’ve spent the summer chasing abs, fall is your opportunity to quest for hypertrophy. The goal change is gratifying. Your brain’s search for novelty is satiated and your body is ripe for mass gain. Immediate psychological and physical results abound.
The goal also coincides with the season (and life’s) rhythm. It requires less training volume to gain mass than it does to lean out, and you’re able to enjoy life outside the gym (gatherings, food, people) without the cognitive dissonance of knowing that your goal is competing with your life.
[Disclaimer: This isn’t an invitation to mold your butt prints into your couch and eat pumpkin pie like you’ll die tomorrow. Train hard to use those calories productively, just dial back the conditioning.]
Change Your Perspective: Narrow Your Focus
As much as we love to consider lifting’s results (the strength, the size, etc.) we often disregard lifting as a skill. We’re remiss not to examine our favorite lifts and what’s required of us to optimally complete them.
Autumn is three months long and that’s twelve weeks productively devoted to honing a skill. I can’t determine the skills you’ll attack, that’s your job, but I’ll outline a process that’s helped me progress.
Pick One Lift
I wasn’t joking about narrowing the focus. Pick one lift, preferably one you don’t excel at, and devote the next three months to its conquest.
Train It Every Day
Conventional wisdom disdains training a lift every day, but let’s remember that believing the world is flat was once conventional wisdom. Sure, training a lift every day sounds irrational, but if it’s loaded correctly, the skill, size and strength results are irrefutable. The secret is to lightly load the lift (between fifty and seventy percent of one rep max) and to keep the total reps under twenty. Emphasize tension and speed while completing your reps. Place the lift directly before the day’s main lift, let’s say that deadlift is your everyday lift. On bench press day, you’ll complete your light and fast deadlift sets before your main bench press exercise. That’s right, you can deadlift on bench day. You get boatloads of practice, extra training volume that builds size and strength, and a fantastic nervous system primer that prepares your body for the day’s main lift.
One Piece At A Time
Now that we’ve narrowed our focus to overhauling a single lift, we’re tunneling our vision to a new level of narrow. Each day you train, you’ll emphasize one aspect of your chosen lift and attack it with tenacity. Before starting your quest, snag a notebook and jot down your chosen lift’s important performance points. Don’t limit yourself! Consider the lift in all the finite detail you can muster. You have three months; these are the points you’ll focus on daily. If within a week you find that most points are arbitrary and you need only focus on a few pieces of the puzzle, well, then you’ve come to a productive realization. Strategize, practice and remedy these cumbersome, lift-abolishing maladies.
Change Completely: An Absolute Novelty
Despite our persistence, there are times when any semblance of an old training pattern is tiresome, extinguishing motivation as fast as it develops. Rekindling the flame with yesteryear’s favorite lift and a goal shift aren’t enough to influence psychology. It’s at this point that we open ourselves to something previously unconsidered. Maybe it’s time to give yourself to kettlebell training. It could be high-time to register for an adventure race. Whatever it is, it should inspire bodily action.
There are two, strong indicators that you’re choosing a new conquest that will rekindle your love for physical culture: the action interests you, the idea of the action makes you uncomfortable. These two factors will aid in success. Interest increases the likelihood that you’ll fit it into your busy, fall schedule. Discomfort is a means to growth that leads you back to your normal, physically-dominating ways.
Conclusion: Avoid Fall-ing Backward
Fall and all its summer-stopping changes can’t break your training stride if you don’t let it. Match your expectations with reality, give your brain and body some novelty, and refocus on what’s physically important to you. Give these strategies a try and avoid falling backward.