After many posts about progressive overload, avoiding junk volume and gym hopping, I'm going to do a 180 today and talk about autoregulation. What's that you ask? Well it's basically taking structure and throwing it out the window.
First, let me expand on that definition of autoregulation. It is the method of altering training based on fatigue and other factors versus following the programmed protocol. Now wait a second; you might ask, "how do you make sure that progress is happening if you don't follow the program?" The reality is, even the best periodized program isn't going to be able to account and factor in all the things your body and systems might face on a day-to-day basis.
For example, maybe your body is fighting an illness or perhaps you had a very stressful day at work and your CNS is fried. Maybe you didn't sleep at all the night before for some reason. You might have even tweaked one of your glutes playing an intense game of kickball. These examples and many more can all affect your performance in the gym and are good cases to autoregulate. In these scenarios, working "off script" might be the best way to avoid an injury or be able to get some quality training done when the usual norm simply wouldn't be advisable.
Two points I want to make that are important to state here. First is that autoregulation is an exception basis. If you find yourself autoregulating frequently, there are likely some other factors that need to be examined to allow your body to recover more fully or your program should be adjusted to compensate. The second is that autoregulation's goal should be to help get back to normal progressive overload training as soon as possible, not venture further away. In other words, not to overdo the training, causing injury or excess fatigue, which leads to more required deviation.
While your grade school teachers might not agree, it's okay to sometimes bend the rules as long as it gets you back to the subject you are studying.
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