How do you guys regulate your workouts? How do you decide what you will do on any given day? Do you have certain protocols that you go through to determine exercise selection, workload, etc? What do you do if today isn’t your day? Do you push through or do you auto-regulate?[/quote]
I walk into the gym with the exercises, sets, and reps (or really, rep range) already written down. I play the exact weights by ear, evaluating on a set by set basis. Based on things like energy, general recovery, and focus, my strength might be up or down compared to “the usual”, but as long as I perform well within the target rep range for the planned number of sets, it’s considered a good session.
If I have to adjust anything else (exercise substitution, leaving the gym earlier than planned, etc.), I simply make the smartest possible choices. This comes from experience, so it’s harder for a beginner to know what can/can’t be compromised.
Also, I wrote about my take on autoregulation in a thread a while back, so forgive the giant copy/paste, but I think it’s relevant here too:
When I write a program and recommend a rep range, I literally mean for all work sets to be within that range. So if I write 4x4-6, I’m expecting you to sort of “autoregulate” and use whatever weight you can handle for at least 4 good reps and no more than 6. Preferably without hitting muscular failure or grinding/barely getting any of those reps. The last set of an exercise is usually the only exception, where I can see it being fine to grind the last rep and end that lift on a high note, though I’d still avoid hitting failure or failing mid-rep.
Every rep should have solid form and feel solid. That’s probably, but not necessarily, going to mean you’ll adjust the weight used each set based on how you just performed and how you’re feeling.
As an example, here’s how I’ve been working my dumbbell shoulder press. My plan calls for 4x2-4.
3 Sessions Ago
60x4 -Every rep felt smooth, I could’ve squeezed out one more good rep before form got ugly, so I bumped up the weight.
65x3 - Felt good and solid. Stayed in the target rep range, so kept the weight.
65x2 - Glad I got at least two and hit my “minimum”, but it shouldn’t have been this hard. I made sure to rest a little bit longer, then attacked it again.
65x3 - Suck it, 65’ers.
2 Sessions Ago
65x3 - Based on the last workout’s last set, I should be good for 3, but a 4th would be gravy.
65x3 - Felt fine, still in target range. Continue.
65x3 - Same as last set. Felt good, carry on.
65x2 +1 push press - First rep felt good, second hit me hard for some reason. I got dumb and greedy and intentionally “cheated” an extra rep with leg drive.
Most Recent Session
65x4 - Mildly pissed about last session’s last set. Want to make a statement to myself, and I did. Yay me.
65x3 - Hit the top end of my rep range last set, but I don’t feel confident at this weight and know 70 would be a big struggle. Kept weight the same.
65x3 - Reps felt smooth. Maintain.
65x3 - End of a good session. I’ll likely go for 70 on the second or third set of the next workout, depending on how I feel.
(Hope that explains how my head works.)