3 (Unorthodoxed) Reasons You Aren’t Getting Better at Lifting Heavy Things

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of the one and only Leigh Peele.  Leigh and I have known each other for about six years and in between co-hosting The FitCast together and exchanging numerous emails on Lord of the Rings philosophy we’ve grown to be good friends.

About two years ago Leigh kinda fell off the radar, and inexplicably went into stealth mode.  She and I lost touch, and in that time I moved in with my girlfriend, learned that wearing white past Labor Day is a big no-no, and became a cat owner while Leigh wrote a book.

A really good book.

Little did I know that the reason she “disappeared” was because she was knee deep in research and writing her butt off.

The end result?

Starve Mode: Explaining & Resetting Metabolic Problems That Can Come From Dieting.

Giving full disclosure:  The book was released a few weeks ago and I was a little late in the game and have only just begun reading it, but from what I have read thus far it’s a game changer.

Leigh truly outdid herself, and all the praise she has received from various fitness peeps – Tom Venuto, Jonathan Fass, Jen Sinkler, Nia Shanks, etc – is well deserved.

That said when Leigh extended the offer to write a little something for the site I happily agreed.  Not that she ever really left, but it’s great to have her back.


3 (Unorthodoxed) Reasons You Aren’t Getting Better At Lifting Heavy Things

Tony is known for many things. Mostly it’s wearing small t-shirts and lifting heavy s**t. [Note from TG:  Excuse me, I wear smedium sized shirts thank you very much.] When he asked me if I had any knowledge I wanted to relay I thought first about those small shirts, but then I thought about you guys – the readers.

From what I understand you are a hodge podge of age and gender who also like to lift heavy s**t. What I am going to talk to you about is a major roadblock I see for people who have this as a goal. I am going to help some of you get better at picking up and putting down heavy things.

The best way for me to help you? Pointing out your flaws of course! Below you will see three problems on your journey to getting stronger. I tried to bypass the standard advice or calling you a wimp.

Problem #1 – Your Aren’t Making The Act Of Picking Up Heavy Things Your #1 Priority

Funny isn’t it? You say it’s your goal. You talk about the importance of your goal, but it is the furthest thing from priority when you look at their actions. Trying to lose fat while lifting heavy things? Not such a good idea. Trying to achieve the record title of endurance in push-ups or performing a couch to 5K trial run?

Yep, this is not action towards your goals.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t as if you shouldn’t lift those weights while losing fat, but how long do you want to drag this fat loss thing out for? Pacing your fat loss with intelligent deficits and refeeds – yes. Dragging it out and training in a constant state of barely fed, binge lifts, and weight regain fear – no.

Can you have other training goals while lifting heavy things? Yeah, but maximum strength takes focused energy and effort. So give it some.

Problem #2 – You’re Trying To Get Strong Lifting in a Stunted or Decreased Metabolic State

I am not saying you can’t get strong when you aren’t feeding yourself. I’ve actually been amazed with what I have seen people do who were robbed of solid nutrition. But less surprised when they end up crashing, binging for months, collecting injuries and bone fractures – you know the fun side effects of lifting heavy things and not feeding for it.

You might think, “Isn’t this the same as number one?” No. It isn’t and I will tell you why.

A certain subset of the fitness population will avoid weight regain from fat loss or increase of weight in general at all cost. This happens even with men, but more in “not losing definition” than scale weight alone.

At any point and time we fall on a certain line of being underfed, fed (roughly for our needs) and overfed. Technically we never achieve a perfect balance but you see what I am getting at. When an individual becomes nervous of any weight rebound or truly fueling their metabolic potential, they eat more towards the “underfed” state on a constant basis.

It might not be an intended deficit, but it can lead to a downgraded metabolic activity. Recovery gets robbed, nutrients get robbed and the next thing you know you are praying to find a PR or any sign of progress.

Take home point: If you hadn’t tested your metabolic potential or understood the difference between weight gain and fat gain – get on it.

See what you can do when fed and rested.

Note from TG: For those looking to dig a little deeper, Starve Mode is a fantastic resource for that.

Problem #3 – Not Resting or Going With The Flow

You can only drive yourself so hard before you reap the “benefits” of doing so. Are you the inspiration for the memes on Facebook telling people their legs giving out is “just an excuse to use your arms?” Let me appeal to you on a corkier level on why you should work smarter, not harder.

Apollo Robbins is a master of pickpocketing and misdirection. He gave a fantastic TedTalk recently explaining how we can manipulate attention. I highly encourage you watch it.

What does this have to do with anything? You can steal someone’s wallet by beating them up, ripping their pocket and running for your life (and the cops) or you can misdirect their attention and with minimal physical effort.

And just as fast as you can say abracadabra – the wallet is yours.

Clearly both are illegal and morally corrupt, but both expend two different energies and stress levels to achieve the same goal.

Sure you might reach your goals doing four lifting sessions a week, lots “metabolic work,” restricting carbs, and eating “clean.” But what if you can achieve the same physical and strength goals using strategy, feed timing, and pacing yourself?

The true misdirection in a large part of the fitness community is thinking you have to grind yourself into the ground to get what you want.

Be it concepts like biofeedback or simply enjoying yourself in the gym again, get back to working smarter.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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