Create: 05/19/2010 - 05:49
A lot of times we hear people say, â€œYouâ€™ve got to listen to your body.â€ But what does that mean? No, this is a serious question. Stop reading for a second and ask yourself if you know how to listen to your body. What does your body â€œsoundâ€ like? Itâ€™s a difficult thing to define in objective terms. Sure, we all know what itâ€™s like to feel good or feel bad, but any Freshman-level Behavioral Scientist can tell you study after study has shown that subjective perceptions are often skewed from reality â€“ much to the unawareness of the person doing the perceiving. So if we canâ€™t define â€œlistening to our bodyâ€ in objective terms, weâ€™re left to rely on the subjective. No doubt a personâ€™s skill in this area will vary. And while the experience level of the athlete may improve their subjective ability, my observations are that even experienced athletes get it wrong quite a bit. I know I do. Hereâ€™s the thing: Subjective perceptions are important, but they canâ€™t form the entire basis of your training. When I began to transition from Intermediate to Advanced lifter, â€œlisten to your bodyâ€ was a common phrase given as training advice. And it was well intentioned! When questioned on what this meant exactly, most lifters showed that they rely on subjective perceptions of how they feel to adjust their training. Things like soreness, motivation, and other parameters were most often assessed just by â€œwinging itâ€ instead of by a normal process. And whatâ€™s more, nobody could really tell you how to do it. You just had to figure it out. My next question was, â€œHow long does that take?â€ The replyâ€¦ 10 years. 10 years! Thatâ€™s 10 years of training, working hard, and pouring sweat to finally reach a point where you can rely on the sometimes-correct perceptions of how your body is responding. There has to be a faster way, right? I mean, come on! Ten years of training inefficiently just so you can train in a somewhat-more-efficient manner? Was there anything faster? Well, not at that time. The reply given to me was to find an experienced coach and listen to them. The trouble was there wasnâ€™t an experienced coach in my area. So what is left to do? For me, I became a student of the sport. I studied it in every way I could. And as I made my transition from Intermediate to Advanced lifter, I not only was able to â€œlisten to my bodyâ€ â€“ in effect, I gave it a megaphone so I could hear things clearly. It is with these observations that I laid the groundwork for the Reactive Training System. Since development, it has been tested and honed on literally hundreds of athletes and it has proven to be an exceptionally reliable way to train. As a training system, it walks you through the process of adjusting your training (called autoregulation). The training system literally adjusts in response to your body. Letâ€™s look at a few ways it can do this. First, a cornerstone of the system is the RPE. This stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion. Itâ€™s basically how hard did a set feel on a scale of 1 to 10. For more on how this piece of the system works, check out the Excerpt from Chapter 2 of my RTS Manual. When used properly, using RPEâ€™s can allow you to adjust your bar weights accurately depending on how youâ€™re feeling each day. This is obviously good for times when you may not be as strong as you normally are, but it is also very beneficial for long term progress. A good training program will make you stronger and thus allow you to use heavier weights. The RPEâ€™s will very clearly indicate to you that itâ€™s time to put more weight on the bar. This will help stimulate further progress because youâ€™re training with the appropriate load for your bodyâ€™s current strength. RTS also uses several methods of volume management to allow your body to dictate the level of work it requires. Two such methods are Fatigue Stops and Fatigue Percents. Although a full description of each of these methods exceeds the scope of this article, I can tell you that they are simple to use and highly effective for those who use them. When your body is well recovered, the volume automatically goes up. When your body is dealing with stress (be it physical, psychological, etc), the training volume automatically goes down. This is a huge training breakthrough. It helps greatly in avoiding overtraining, but also does not over react and have you undertrain either. You get the right amount of volume every time you train. There are several other tools in the RTS system from Training Stress Management, to Long Term Planning, GPP and more. The beauty of the system is that you can take as much or as little as you want. And you get to keep your base program if you want. Think of it like putting a scope on a rifle. The rifle is your base program. It can be whatever â€œcaliberâ€ you like â€“ Westside, Sheiko, Block style, and so on. RTS is the scope that you put on the rifle. It doesnâ€™t necessarily change the rifle itself, but it allows you to employ it more effectively. This is actually a very accurate analogy. We have had people who get results from one style of training or another and we donâ€™t try to change that. Many times, lifters just start off by adding the RTS modifications and it turns their training into a more effective system for that individual. And why shouldnâ€™t it? It puts on a number of tools designed to help the individual autoregulate his training. According to most of us, this is a necessary thing to reach a high level in Powerlifting. So how do you get â€œthe goodsâ€ on how to employ the RTS modifications on your own training system? Signing up for the free RTS newsletter (on the RTS website) is a good start, but eventually you need to get The RTS Manual. This book will walk you through it step-by-step. Itâ€™s designed to be built on as you go â€“ meaning you can employ what you learn in Chapter 1 while you are reading Chapter 2. Not only that, this manual is complete with a CD that includes various other documents and spreadsheets designed to help you plan and execute good training. Want something even better? How about 25% off? For this May only, use the code start in the RTS Store and get 25% the RTS Manual or my Seminar DVD. Thanks for reading. Hopefully this article gave you a better understanding on the origins of RTS, what RTS is and isnâ€™t, and maybe even a good deal on improving your own training system! Mike Tuchscherer is the owner of Reactive Training Systems, a company dedicated to individualized physical training. The goal of RTS is to help you become a dominant force in your sport! Learn more by visiting Mike's Reactive Training Systems web site. Mike himself is an accomplished Powerlifter. He has over 12 years of experience training and researching the best training methods in the world. Mike has competed in raw and single ply competitions. He recently won the Gold medal representing the USA at the 2009 World Games; becoming the first American male to ever win this distinction. His best lifts in IPF competition are a 903 squat, a 644 bench press, an 826 deadlift, and a 2342 total in the 275 pound weight class.