The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hitting The Wall

There is something referred to as "the wall" by runners. The complete and total mental and physical breakdown in the midst of a marathon where you feel like you can't go another inch. This is where the mental prowess of a champion must come into play.

Many similarities can be drawn for the training and dieting game. For those desperate to make a crazy body transformation, you're bound to hit walls. It is a promise.

In actuality, hitting the wall is a specific circumstance when a person is completely depleted of glycogen stores and their muscular functions cease to work until they are replenished. This is why marathon runners and cyclists carb up before a big race and ingest those goo packets during the race. To avoid hitting the wall.

Now, this isn't a case for ingesting large amounts of carbs before doing your mediocre pump sesh, but what it does highlight is that "The Wall" is something we can quantify and either avoid or acknowledge and...uh..."climb over."

Over Training

There is a fascination with the idea of being Alpha, training repeated sets to failure, going full potato on the weights every time you hit the weight room. Mike Rashid has even made this into a brand.

But what you have to understand about Mike Rashid is that he comes from a very long training career that includes boxing where he would train 3 times a day. He has built up his work capacity to a very high level. And, with the aid of some obvious pharmaceuticals, he has a work capacity that is so insane that it's fun to watch. I have a great deal of respect for Mike Rashid. I've heard lots of interviews with him and respect him as an athlete and a business man. But, I think that the majority of people cannot train this way without hitting that wall. This level of training is something that must be worked up to and should only be done if you're in specific circumstances.

Training high volume works. The science behind more hypertrophy and higher training volume is more or less correlated. However, that is not a case for everyone to jump onto the 10 sets of 10 for every lift program. That's a great way to get injured if you're a beginner or intermediate trainee and it's very difficult to maintain. You have to love training and you have to love self inflicted pain, otherwise you will jump ship.


At a certain point, Real hard training, training that is brutal, training that you dread is part of the game. In order to get stronger, you need to push yourself past a level of comfort. It is the practice of elite athletes in the realms of Weight lifting and Power lifting to regularly go through cycles of overreaching. Two-a-day training with heavy weight, lots of volume, lots of time under tension. Even in drug free athletes. However, they always incorporate "tapering" volume back before the meet so that their bodies recover and their totals (ideally) sling shot past previous meet PR's.

However, most of us will never be Olympic or elite athletes. We're bros and broettes trying to look like Greek gods and goddesses. So, generally, I recommend that you avoid the wall.

But the wall isn't just found in the weight room. It's also in your kitchen and on your plate. For numerous reasons I've already discussed in previous posts, your body is finely tuned not to lose weight or build muscle. You must force the issue. Your body uses its own chemistry to put your mind at odds with your goals. (Fuck you, mind.)

Signs of the wall

  • Constant fatigue
  • Feeling a bit under the weather (sniffles)
  • Hungry all the time and/or complete loss of hunger
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of sex drive/or sex orientated functions decrease 

How to avoid the wall

Muscle failure occurs when we are physically incapable of completing a rep without either dumping the weight or having a spotter pull it off of us or pushing it to completion. If you're going to utilize this kind of training you must program enough recovery time. And although training that muscle group or lift once every 8 days sounds appealing. The amount you must push yourself is beyond torture. You need the mental will of a goddamn Titan in order to win that battle.

Even then, training to failure is hard to program for others. Most people who think they are training to failure are more often than not training to mental failure or perceived failure. Where their mind quits before their muscles do, their head convinces them that they couldn't possibly go another rep when really they may have had 2 or 3 more.


For Training

You should not push yourself to the level of complete failure with every exercise, every lift, ever day. If you're going to push something to failure, either do it for smaller muscle groups near the end of the training session, or do it for 1 set of your major compound lifts.

Don't train more than you can physically sustain. Most people shouldn't train more than 4 times a week. I've gone through weeks of 7 days a week training and I'm telling you that it doesn't do you any good to train that much as a non competitive, physique driven trainee. 

For Diet

Avoid painful streaks of Hunger by utilizing higher Fiber and protein foods in your diet. The longer you can avoid hunger, the longer you can remain in a deficit and lose body fat. If you're not a coffee drinker or have an irrational fear of caffeine, you need to reevaluate your life choices and utilize the hunger blunting power of caffeine as well as the fount of energy you're not tapping into.

If you find yourself constantly caving in and demolishing pizza, cupcakes, and Ice cream, practice IIFYM and make foods like that fit into your diet so you don't constantly have to say no to yourself, or use my cheat meal strategy to keep yourself sane.

Goals, Gainz, and Final Thoughts.

In the end, the goal is to maximize your results so you can achieve your concept of an ideal physique and strength levels. The way you go about it is immensely personal, as the training style that you're most likely to stick to is one you can sustain (ie "enjoy") but this can also hinder you from making the progress you desire. Sometimes you must bring in mild forms of torture to make epic progress. Sometimes you have to bring in a bucket full of self inflicted brutality to get brutally awesome results. It's speed versus consistency. I personally like to utilize a pleasant mixture of both, times of quick hard, body smashing work, some back off, then ramp up to another block of brutality.

Wrapping it up: Train the way you want to train and eat the way you want to eat, but learn to live with the results it yields.

Until next time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

1 comment:

  1. A big round of applause for the amazingly written blog.
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