In this post we discuss why there are more important metrics than the weight you’re lifting and what to focus your attention on instead.
Have you ever tried to teach a child or a co-worker something?
Once you’re through with the explanation how do you know they’ve understood?
In professional environments we use testing.
This comes with disadvantages but testing is one of the few ways we find out if knowledge has been transferred.
The more that’s at stake, the more stringent and frequent the testing.
Have you ever taught somebody something, thought they’d understood, and then been surprised to find they failed an exam?
Frustrating isn’t it?
Without testing however you would never have known. You would’ve continued to make assumptions that were incorrect.
So what’s this got to do with training?
In rehab and training you will typically find two things are measured, how you feel and how much weight you’re lifting.
This isn’t enough, particularly if you’re recovering from injury.
Let me explain how this can go wrong.
Let’s say you’re using the squat as one of your key resistance training exercises.
You’re feeling good and week by week the weight you’re lifting is slowly increasing.
Fantastic. You’ve passed the key tests that most professionals would apply.
Just recently however you’ve started to get knee pain.
That’s weird. You’ve been doing this exercise for weeks without issues.
Your technique has been good and the weight has been increased in a sensible manner.
You’re confused, as is the professional who’s directing your training.
What’s gone wrong and how do you fix it?
Think back to our classroom analogy.
You’ve been showing up for class and doing the required reading for weeks.
You nod your head in all the right places during the lectures and even ask a few intelligent questions.
The teacher thinks you’re nailing this.
What’s missing? Testing.
Without deeper and more thorough testing things have been missed.
Your body has managed to complete the task you’ve been setting it and even look good doing so.
Week by week however a few things have been occurring that you’re unaware of.
Principally you’ve been overloading muscles beyond their capacity.
A more isolated check of the joint motions involved would’ve revealed an increasing number of restrictions.
Muscle testing around these restricted joints would’ve shown more and more muscles that were currently unable to do their job.
The end result is a pain response as your body has now run out of effective ways to programme the movement.
In a learning environment you would be required to study more and repeat the test.
A good teacher would help you discover where you went wrong so you could focus on your weaknesses.
This is unlikely to happen in the gym however.
If the only metrics being monitored are how you feel and the weight you’re using, this leaves little room for further investigation.
At best you might be instructed to reduce the weight and build your training back up again. At worst you’ll be told to push through the pain.
Without frequent and relevant checks you are flying without crucial pieces of information.
The more deconditioned you are as a result of injury and inactivity, the more important these checks become as there’s less room for error.
There are more important metrics than the weight you’re lifting and how you feel.
Pain and deficits in performance are the result of changes that have usually occurred some time before.
Look for limitations in range motion as the first sign you are moving in the wrong direction.