I’m bad at math. I know that, you know that because I’ve written about it, and at least a handful of my clients know it because of that one time someone accidentally hit a personal record of 205lbs on the trap bar deadlift…
One the biggest challenges we have day to day is helping clients focus on what they are gaining, and not what they are losing. We live in a culture that begs us all to be less - to be smaller - to lose body fat, to lost inches around the waist. Rarely is anyone talking about ways in which we can be more.
When you begin a new exercise program, you are gaining energy. You are gaining better range of motion by doing more soft tissue work and dynamic stretching at the beginning of your workout. You are hopefully thinking better, feeling better, and sleeping better as a result of your new exercise routine.
On convincing them that they can set out to be more, and not less. This is an uphill battle when most of us, women especially, come in to the gym trying to lose body fat, inches, weight or appetite.
But often, after a few months in the gym, clients can become frustrated with all of the things that they are “only” doing. (Which is why no one is allowed to say only to me.) On the other hand, I understand how lifting weights can feel stagnant sometimes. Which is when I like to bring out my calculator and introduce the concepts of progressive overload and total volume.
Progressive overload is a fancy schmancy way of saying that you increased your workload for an exercise by either adding more weight or more repetitions to your workout. For example, if you perform three sets of eight dumbbell goblet squats with 15 pounds in week one, you squatted a total of 360 pounds.
The next week, let’s say you lifted 15 pounds, but added more repetitions and sets. So you did 15x10x4.
Most clients are still stuck on the idea that they are “only” lifting 15 pounds. But when you do the math (with a calculator if you’re me), the reality is that you have now lifted a total of 600 pounds.
That’s an increase of almost 50%.
The deadlift is another lift where clients tend to minimize their workload.
In the beginning, we start with the kettlebell deadlift, which is an excellent exercise to learn how to properly hip hinge (which translates into helping you pick things up from the floor in a way that keeps your back healthy and your knees happy).
Often we begin clients with a 35lb kettlebell to build a solid movement pattern, but it isn’t very long before we graduate to 50 or 60lbs. After that we progress to the trap bar.
Most clients average between 85-105lbs when they begin using the trap bar. Last week, I had two clients use the trap bar for the first time, both at 85lbs. They did 8 reps for four sets.
They lifted 2,720 pounds. And that was just on the deadlift.
Next time you’re frustrated with what you’re not losing, or the fact that you only lifted a certain amount of weight, step back, pull out your calculator, and do the math.
You’re gaining strength every day.