I am about halfway through my second week on a more minimal lifting program. Here are some thoughts and observations.
If you read about the Wendler 5/3/1 program online, you will see that each day has you do 3 sets of the main lift. There are different templates you can follow for assistance work. The templates have names like “Big But Boring,” and “The Triumvirate.” The template where you do just the main lift, with no assistance work, is called “I’m Not Doing Jack Shit.”
A couple days (mainly the squat and deadlift days), I caught myself thinking I should add some assistance work to the template. For the squat, I started adding some extra sets from the “Big But Boring” template. After 2 of the extra sets, I realized that I didn’t feel like doing more, and I was trying to convince myself to do more even though I felt done mentally and physically. I asked myself why I thought I needed to do more sets. The answer was “to make my butt bigger” or something like that. Once I realized I was motivated by aesthetic reasons, not health reasons, I was able to stop. (For the record, I don’t have anything against people who want to do more squats for aesthetic reasons. It’s just that, for me, the whole reason for simplifying my program had to do with needing less stress and more energy for added responsibilities in my life at this time. So it didn’t make sense for me to tire myself out with more squats. If someone has an aesthetic goal that doesn’t conflict with their other life goals and responsibilities, good for them!)
On bench press day, I had some extra time, so I decided to work on snatches before I did my bench press sets. I did feel more tired for the rest of the day, and my legs needed an extra day to recover. Good to know.
The other day I saw this post by Go Kaleo – Amber Rogers. It seemed perfectly timed:
“The eating and activity habits that will improve and maintain your health aren’t necessarily the same as practices used by elite athletes to fine tune their performance, or by models to maintain a specific appearance. Those practices rarely have anything to do with long-term health or a balanced life. Unfortunately, a lot of fitness marketing and images in the media are based on them.”
This is such an important distinction. I personally made myself miserable for years because I did not understand this distinction. But when you know better, you do better, right?
So, today was a deadlift day, and I again felt tempted to do extra sets, but I also knew I had spent the morning outside with my kid, and I still had the rest of the day I needed energy for. My body is still adjusting to doing deadlifts again too. So I stuck to the 3 main lifts.
Mr. Wendler is, of course, free to call his program whatever he wants. However, I don’t love the fact that doing just the main lifts is called “I’m Not Doing Jack Shit.” For people with limited time and energy, it may be more helpful to tell them that doing 3 sets of each lift IS doing something. Doing 3 sets per week of each lift is NOT the same thing as doing “jack shit.” I get the whole humor thing. It just….makes me think about how that belief is so common in the fitness industry, that if you can’t make time for an entire hour, it isn’t worth doing. It IS. I need to learn that. I need to get used to that.
I am finding it a challenge to really trust that. That I do not have to keep trying to train like an athlete. That I can train like a regular human, and a mom, and everything will be fine.
Seems like another job for that thing called patience. I can do this!