T Nation

Taking the Fun out of Weight Training

I don’t know about any of you guys but I don’t think my time with the weights should resemble a math class. Write everything down…plot it all out…yuck!

Instead, how about doing a few light sets of what you want to do, keep adding weight, and on the last couple of sets you should be doing an all-out max?

Today is bench day? Just keep adding some weight until you do a couple of max sets. Squat day? Same. Deadlifts? Guess what.

Who really gives a rat’s ass about whether you exceeded your max bench from who knows when? Its all BS.

Just enjoy the weights and let all the people who’re fascinated with keeping track of everything enjoy being weight lifting accountants.

Rant over.

I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but you are much older than me I believe(I’m 20) and our priorities are likely different at this point. To be doing what I’m doing now, trying to force weight and strength gains with big time eating and hardcore training, would likely be ill advised later in life but at this point it’s much safer.

I track my progress on top weights and reps but besides talking about training here I try to keep my training and diet out of my mind. Obsessing is one thing(what I think you are talking about) keeping a journal or log about where you are at is a different animal and I hope you don’t think that’s foolish for everyone.

It might depend on your personality. I enjoy lifting itself, the time in the gym, the living-in-the-moment feeling you get from lifting.

But I think you need some comparison to see improvement. Maybe for some it’s the scale, bf calipers, or how much they squat. I don’t write down everything I do but I will track progression over time to see how I’m doing.

I will say not knowing my exact max on exercises is hurting me on some of the CW’s workouts I’ve been doing. Many of them call for a percentage of 1 rep max for that workout. I find myself over or under-guessing my max for that day at the begining.

Let’s look at it this way: if you forgot your notebook and pencil, would you cancel your workout?

Worrying about your 3 rep max and plotting out how exactly to do a 5 x 5? Why? Unless its your profession and you’re trying to get ready for a meet or show, why turn it all into Accounting 101?

We all know to use variety. Some days, I’ll do a lot of reps and go for a good burn. Most days I’ll just keep going until I do a couple of all-out singles. I don’t plan ahead, I begin with light weights and just keep adding. I have a hell of a lot more fun than if I had to plan it all out like some scientist.

Isn’t training supposed to be fun, to challenge ourselves, to scream and really pound those weights? The personality change from training animal to dweeb accountant between sets just doesn’t suit me.

Headhunter, would you be going for strength, or size on that?

I switched my priorities temporarily to size, as it seems for the last 3 years I’ve been focused entirely on strength, and I avoided starting off with warm-up sets or working up weight because it seemed counter-productive to burn myself out at 70% before I could even reach 90%.

This reads to me like: “I don’t get the science behind it, so I don’t like it.”

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
This reads to me like: “I don’t get the science behind it, so I don’t like it.”[/quote]

Not at all. Training should not be like a math class or an accounting class. It should be FUN!

Is it fun for you to plot out all the variables, to note your mood before training, to lift at a precise tempo, and on and on like that? I thought it was about the LIFTING.

We’re supposed to train like animals, to lift and scream and beat the living shit out of the weights. When did it turn into Actuarial Science class?

[quote]Contrl wrote:
Headhunter, would you be going for strength, or size on that?

I switched my priorities temporarily to size, as it seems for the last 3 years I’ve been focused entirely on strength, and I avoided starting off with warm-up sets or working up weight because it seemed counter-productive to burn myself out at 70% before I could even reach 90%.[/quote]

I think we’ve become control freaks to a big extent. Why? 70%? 90%? Unless you love number crunching, leave all that at home (or in the trash can) and lift like your life depended on it. Imagine some huge drunk just jumped you and has you mounted. Get him off, NOW!! You have to lift a car off your best friend; deadlift that car off of him, NOW!

I love math (hs math teacher) but it gets left at home when its gym (or dochang) time.

i dont so much “enjoy” working out, but i HATE it when i look back and see that i made no progress over months of busting ass because i didnt pay close enough attention to little details

i think that works fine for a while, and for most people, but some people (and after a certain level, everybody) will have to give more to get anything

I keep track of everything I care about in my head and in my mirror. I have a general plan the details of which could change by the minute.

That does not, however, mean that I look askance at those who do enjoy more detailed record keeping and or formulated training if that’s what they find is beneficial to them.

I want to be as big and healthy as can which leaves a lot of room for instinctive methods. People with more precise goals, especially for strength sports will probably not do well this way.

Like Headhunter, I don’t get much out of detailed records and precision planning, but that doesn’t mean somebody else can’t.

How I feel tells me everything I need to know about where to go next.

If you are near your peak i think its fine to relax on keeping any numerical data, maybe just check now and then on your 5RM or whatever.

If you’re wanting to progress though it is relevant to see if lifts are going up and try to understand why, e.g. did diet change, did volume change - that sort of thing.

Of course its easy to read cause into correlation but at least you have something to go on.

If there are no goals other than to enjoy the process of weightlifting and let the chips fall as they will then i see no problem with the relaxed approach.

It all depends on what your plan is, Headhunter. I currently keep a log of my lifts, but there is nothing complicated about it. I just go into the gym with a goal in mind, bang out my goal, and then when I get home I make a note of what I did in my journal.

I don’t do any Excel spreadsheets, nor math in order to drop volume and increase intensity in the weeks leading up to competition, I just keep this concept in mind and do about 2/3 the work - I prefer to drop volume, not intensity - so I do 2 / 3 the number of reps I normally would -on ‘deloading’ weeks every 5-6 weeks or so. Oh god, the number crunching that I must go through! (Instead of doing triples I do doubles. Instead of doing 3 sets of doubles I do 2 sets of doubles. Either way, it’s not exactly complicated.)

After a competition, I pretty much stop keeping a log altogether, and just work on high volume with assistance lifts like 5-8 reps, sometimes even more. I stick to doubles and triples with the olympic lifts and never take it to failure.

I’m not really periodizing my programs in a quantitative manner at this time, it’s not worth the effort since I feel I am still building a ‘base’ of technique and will be doing so for a long while - at least another year or so.

This is on the ‘Bodybuilding’ section of the site, so all in all I think your statement should ring true for the majority of guys on here that are just trying to look good nekkid. Obviously, if this is the case, judging yourself by appearance or with calipers is often the best course of determining what the weakness in your chain is and doing what you need to in order to achieve a goal.

Bottom line is this: It’s important to have specific goals and plans, and that is all for the majority of lifters on this site. So I agree with you to an extent, but when competition is a priority for you then you should at least take into consideration the big picture aspects of periodization and apply them to a group of exercises that work best for your goals. That is all.

[quote]Scott M wrote:
I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but you are much older than me I believe(I’m 20) and our priorities are likely different at this point. To be doing what I’m doing now, trying to force weight and strength gains with big time eating and hardcore training, would likely be ill advised later in life but at this point it’s much safer.

I track my progress on top weights and reps but besides talking about training here I try to keep my training and diet out of my mind. Obsessing is one thing(what I think you are talking about) keeping a journal or log about where you are at is a different animal and I hope you don’t think that’s foolish for everyone. [/quote]

i totally agree.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
Scott M wrote:
I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but you are much older than me I believe(I’m 20) and our priorities are likely different at this point. To be doing what I’m doing now, trying to force weight and strength gains with big time eating and hardcore training, would likely be ill advised later in life but at this point it’s much safer.

I track my progress on top weights and reps but besides talking about training here I try to keep my training and diet out of my mind. Obsessing is one thing(what I think you are talking about) keeping a journal or log about where you are at is a different animal and I hope you don’t think that’s foolish for everyone.

i totally agree. [/quote]

So do I. A basic log helps keep one on track and progressing when the rest of your life is a mess of school,work, family, etc. I do like to keep a day of the week free from my training routine, on which I do whatever lifts I want or something entirely different.

I can’t think of any names right off, but I’ve read even some authors say that anybody who isn’t tracking everything isn’t getting the most out of their training. That is just false. New folks would probably be well served by keeping close track of where they are at least for a while and many may find that continuing is a good thing that they may even enjoy doing.

The way I train I’d get nothing out of keeping a log. What I do is simple and to the point and doesn’t require superhuman memory to keep track of. I know what My weights/reps are on all my money lifts and the framework of my routines are such that if I couldn’t remember where I was I’d have much bigger problems than anything related to lifting. If that ever stops working I’ll do something else.

I think ol HH might be referring to those of us who keep logs or blogs on our workouts. For me there is no calculated or strenuous effort in regard to this. Usually ten or so minutes before my workout I throw together the specific exercises that will be done. Since I started lifting I have always kept track of my numbers i.e… sets/reps/weights. First written in a note pad know thanks to T-Nation logged in my blog.

I like keeping track of what I’ve done and the ability to look back on it one day if desired for any number of reasons. The bottom line is unless someone was telling an individual they had to keep a log why should it matter to them. If you don’t want to and nobody is making you what is the big deal?

D

[quote]Scott M wrote:
I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but you are much older than me I believe(I’m 20) and our priorities are likely different at this point. To be doing what I’m doing now, trying to force weight and strength gains with big time eating and hardcore training, would likely be ill advised later in life but at this point it’s much safer.

I track my progress on top weights and reps but besides talking about training here I try to keep my training and diet out of my mind. Obsessing is one thing(what I think you are talking about) keeping a journal or log about where you are at is a different animal and I hope you don’t think that’s foolish for everyone. [/quote]

Sounds like you’re assuming that you can only push yourself if you write it down, I disagree.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I keep a training log but I don’t walk into the gym knowing exactly what I’m going to do (rep/set/load wise). Risking injury or not pushing yourself hard enough just so you can make your prescribed numbers, whipping out the stop watch in between sets and calculating percentages (based on a number which is unlikely to be accurate unless you actually perform a 1RM within that session prior to making the calculation) doesn’t make sense to me.

I agree with Headhunter on this one, lifting by numbers sounds boring. Training should be more about constantly challenging yourself (not your numbers) rather than taking an exam every time you train.

I dont think it takes the fun out of it at all. In fact, I think it adds fun. You dont have to do any number crunching, just look back one week and and make a new goal for yourself. Ie) I benched 135lbs for 7 reps last week and this week I am going to try for 8 or whatever. If you don`t write down what you do how will you know you are making progress?

Some of you guys might enjoy these pertinent links:

I like math. I’ll do math problems for fun and I like being a weight lifting accountant, as you put it.

So, uhm, why don’t you stop trying to take the fun out of weight training? :wink: