How to Tweak Your Training – By Barbell Shrugged

This week on TechniqueWOD, we thought we’d give you some practical examples of how to tweak your training when things don’t go exactly was planned. Trust us, you’re going to need this skill!

These tweaks are one-time adjustments, not permanent changes. Come back to the gym next time around and perform your WOD as planned. If that’s not possible – if the derailments, interruptions or injuries persist – that’s when you should consider a more significant programming edit.

1. So, what do I do if my shoulder hurts?

Gyms are running over with athletes beating the heck out of their shoulders with endless repetitions of snatches, presses, ring-dips, low-bar back squats, etc. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll experience some kind of wing pain during your lifting career.

The trick is knowing when to back off.

If you’re shoulder will not allow you to complete a solid repetition – without undue pain or movement restriction – then you have to work around for the day. Instead of full snatches, do high-pulls instead. Skip the jerks in favor of dumbbell presses or handstand holds. Get the heavy barbell off your back and maybe do some temp front squats instead.

All of these changes will unload the shoulder and accelerate recovery. With enough TLC and a few good meals, everything should feel fine the next week around.

2. What if I feel great?

If you feel on fire and ready to train, that’s great! Just keep a few things in mind.

First, be careful when adding in extra volume above and beyond your prescribed workload. Workouts stack and build in effect over time. The WOD you do today will directly effect what you do tomorrow, next week, etc. So, add extra barbell work, but only if you intend on working equally as hard on recovery.

Next, think about your weaknesses. If there’s extra work to be done, make it count! For example, you might kick ass at squats, but suck at gymnastics and pull-ups (that happens all the time). Continue to push your squats, but dedicate all the extra effort to mastering your own bodyweight.

That will have a much more powerful carryover to your performance.

3. I only got 3 hours of sleep. What should I do?

The first thing you lose when you sleep poorly is your speed and coordination. So, keep that in mind when looking over the whiteboard with those blood-shot red eyes.

For all Olympic lifts, just work up to 70-80% of your best and see how you feel. If things feel ok, just repeat that effort a few times and move on. If you go any heavier than this, that lack of speed will show and your form will deteriorate quickly.

As soon as things start to look ugly, SHUT IT DOWN! Move on to a basic strength move, like squats or deadlifts. Yes, you’ll still feel terrible, but strength is much more robust quality than either speed or coordination. You should still back off the planned work a little bit, but don’t be afraid to sneak in a few heavy sets. It’s good for you.

Happy tinkering,

Chris