My porridge is juuuust right.

arnold-schwarzeneggers-mammoth-chest-and-back-workout_graphics_arnold-series-3We’ve all done it; an extra set here, an extra set there, swapped out an exercise, or perhaps added a new one. Instinctive training, they call it, and some swear by it. Me? I am not so sure.

For almost a year now, I’ve been working with Adam Bornstein and following his training programs. Sure, we’d make a bunch of swaps for certain exercises, and he’d always encourage skipping anything that hurt etc. But that’s not what I am talking about.

My trouble is that without a specific routine to follow, without explicit exercises, programming, sets and reps, I have a tendency to go overboard and get heavily sucked-in to doing a lot more work. It starts out gradually, of course, but even in the last two weeks, I’ve seen the volume start to rapidly increase.

“That doesn’t feel like enough work.”, I’ll say to my training partner, who looks at me with something like crazy in his mind and contempt in his eyes.

“Let’s throw in that arm-ladder I saw on DieselStrength earlier this week.”

It was a I-go-you-go affair, EZ bar curls, from 2 reps up to 20 reps in 2-rep intervals… a total of 108 reps of curls in about 10 minutes. Of course, after a balls-to-the-wall back workout, this was crushing to say the least. Still, I mused, what was it that Arnie always said about shocking the muscle? More is always better, right? Our bodies aggressively resist change. Change must be forced; dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary.

“Effort is the killer of gains”, says a respected and trusted friend, Dave Dellanave, the founder and advocate for test based training through which we only attempt exercise that our body acknowledges (through ROM testing) would be beneficial. And you can’t argue with this guy — he can PR every day!

So which is it?

Is it that grey area? You know, the soft and fuzzy middle ground. That doesn’t align well with my black and white view of the world, so I’ll be leaving ambiguity sulking in the corner.

Anyway, no real conclusion was intended or required, just airing my thoughts.

At least I can recognize the change and I will of course try to manage it as best I can. Only four more weeks before I start the next cut… at that point, I’ll have some leeway to experiment with.

To gains, however they may come.

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