Respecting your Capacities: Part 1

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

For a lot of us heading to the gym, getting in a long bike ride, or going out for a run is an important part of our daily or weekly routine. Depending on your background, personal history in sport, and current health status the relationship you have with this part of your week may differ. Whether you’re training for mental clarity, the desire to look a little better naked, or to keep up with your health I think it is beneficial to take a step back and analyze what your training looks like to ensure it is the best course to achieve your goals. 

Ultimately to achieve any goal related to physical health consistency (in sleep, nutrition, and training) is key. 

In designing a training plan, or approaching a single session, we must take into consideration three capacities. Our endurance capacity, or ability to repeat a task with high precision and control. Strength capacity, which is how much load a specific tissue/joint can manage with a high level of precision and control. Finally, range of motion capacity - for an individual joint or a person’s ability to demonstrate a body position. 

No matter your motivation for exercise, or training, ultimately you are asking your body to adapt to the stimulus in your session. This adaptation is our body’s desire to become more efficient. Our body will remodel tissue and change metabolic properties in order to expend less energy to complete a task that we are repeatedly exposed to. 

There is a fine line between pushing an adaptation and training outside of your capacity. The concept of progressive overloading is to approach, and carefully breach, our capacity in order to expand that capacity (adapt). If we chronically train beyond these capacities the likelihood of overtraining and injury increases dramatically. 

We are task driven creatures; when we complete a movement or task we typically don’t spend lots of time thinking about how to complete a task. If we work outside of our capacity our bodies will create compensations to complete the task. For example, someone working overhead with limited shoulder range of motion may compensate by changing their low/mid back and/or neck position.The tissues aiding in compensation are loaded in a manner that can lead to increased ‘repetitive stress injuries’.

Exceeding strength and/or endurance capacities will have similar compensation patterns impacting posture or movement and secondary tissues will engage to complete the task. When this happens, it is not uncommon for the secondary tissues to get angry rather than the tissues whose capacity was exceeded. 

I think it’s important for everyone to step back from their training/exercise and take an objective look at how their capacities match with the stimulus. Respecting your capacity and progressing a little slower, will ultimately lead to more consistent training, positive adaptation, and a smoother path to your goal. Most importantly though, this will lead to longevity in movement and your overall physical health.  

Continue with Part 2

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