T Nation

Pure Instinctive Training


I'm curious if anybody reading this has ever adopted a purely or nearly-pure instinctive approach to their training? This is something I've wanted to do for a long time but my proclivity towards order and pre-planning has, thus far, prevented me from taking that leap. If I were to do it the only restriction I would place on myself, as far as pre-planning goes, would be that balance among all lifts, movement patterns, and general physical capabilities must be maintained. Other than that, day-to-day conditions would be the sole determiner in how I train or if I train at all on a particular day.

I do recognize that such a restriction might negate the whole principle of instinctive training up front but, at this point, I see no way around it. I should also mention that while I posted this under the "powerlifting" rubric I'm also into strongman events and weightlifting; the instinctive approach I described would apply to all my training. Can anybody offer advice or insight?


Failing to plan is planning to fail. How would you actually prepare for the meet? How would you progress this into a successful competition?

Give it a shot, see if it works. I am 99% sure it will not. I don't see anyway you can actually quantify results or progress. Thats how strength is developed, through math, physics, and numbers... not feelings.

Personally, if I didn't lift hard on days I felt like shit, I wouldn't ever lift hard.

Also, you say you are going to plan certain skills to be maintained. If your skills are not improving, then you are getting worse. Maintaince is for shit that is broken already. While you maintain, all of the people who you compete against are going to be getting better and stronger than you.

I don't mean to come off as an asshole here but just really think about the concept as a whole and what the ultimate goal is... hopefully it's improving your competition lifts and being able to display that improvement in a competition. If this is the case, you need to figure out how to progress your training accrodingly to make it happen.


I don't have anything to contribute, really. But I'm just curious as to WHY this is something you want to do? No shots, it's your training and not mine. Like I said, just curious.


what does it mean? doing what you feel like when and if you feel like it?
(within some constraints of balance that you mentioned)

i could see it working... i think there might be another name...


it can be hard to figure, though. hard to know when to listen to your body and when to make your body listen to you. i autoregulate quite a lot. err sometimes in working too hard and sometimes in working too little. guess there is the same problem with a program, though. sometimes it gets you working too hard and sometimes too little.



I've had too many days where I felt like shit coming into the gym and did awsome and or was feeling rather chipper and performed chipper. Too many times where I get like 4-5 hours sleep night before and blasted my weights. It's just best to follow a program that allows for good and bad days. Why I like 5/3/1. I don't always have to go balls to wall on the main lift. In fact, doing so would hamper my progress.


I see no problem with instinctive training... maybe it means something different to you all? Just work up to something heavy every time and hit your acc work hard. You know you're making progress when your weights or reps improve or you hit a technical PR. Also vary your main lift so you don't burn out.


But that sounds like a plan grettiron, or at least a framework.


Touche. So it's not that instinctive training is training sans percentages. What is instinctive training, then?


Kinda like deciding not to decide.


There is no status quo. Everyday you are either better or worse than the day before. If more lifters could comprehend this concept it would limit the number of 'why am I not progressing' threads.


Even autoregulation requires some math and measuring equipment, like a tendo. True autoregulation would be doing sets until either bar speed slows or the set amount of reps are not hit in the set amount of time. I know there is a lot of stuff written out there about self autoregulation but thats not 100% the same thing and there is no way to quantify, other than feeling, if what you are doing is optimal.

I do get what you are saying though. There needs to be a balance between a plan and listening to your body. There needs to be a strong set of training principles in place then everything esle is built around that. The plan can change, the goals can change, the entire workout can change, but the principals of the training must always be there and they must constantly be developed.


Now this is something we can all agree on. Well said.


I did it for a while after I had my knee surgery. Basically I went in 5 days a week and lifted whatever upper body muscles hurt the least. It basically turned into benching 3 days a week and doing back 2 days a week. It worked pretty well. Bench went up a lot and the rest of my upper body got pretty strong. Once I could lift lower again I abandoned it for a westside split and continued with good gains.