The Key To Success: Becoming A Student of Your Body

My buddy Adam T. Glass has been posting a lot on his success and results with biofeedback. Biofeedback is simply communicating with your body about its opinion of what you’re doing. It is a form of autoregulation, which is kind of a fancy way to say intuitive/instinctive training.

Regardless of how you define it, it’s good stuff.

I’ve been using this over the past two weeks to guide my training. I’ve built a small foundation from my 30 day experiment in December but what I discovered was absolutely startling:

After 4 years of Z-Health, my body no longer likes most mobility work and is craving heavy stability and strength training.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is all the Z I’ve done has stripped me of most of my compensations, and therefore many of my strength patterns. So I am left with imbalances and weaknesses!

This really isn’t bad news at all – it’s actually quite exciting. It allows me to truly find my weaknesses and eliminate them. To do so, I am using new and exciting exercises and making rapid progress on them. The biofeedback has been amazing.

Here is what I’ve noticed in the last 2 weeks:

  • My strength is up
  • My lean body mass is up
  • My body fat is down
  • My scale weight is up between 3 and 5 pounds
  • My posture is much improved
  • My energy is up
  • My powers of focus and concentration have improved

What do I attribute this to really?

Just finally listening to my body. After 20 years, I’ve stopped treating my body as my slave and seeing it more as a servant, a good employee, a partner to my mind and will even.

As hesitant as I was to do my 30 day experiment with the Program Minimum, it was arguably one of the best things I’ve done for my body in a long, long time.

Another thing I did that I strongly recommend that everyone who owns and uses a kettlebell should do, is pick up a copy of my very good friend Brett Jones’ Kettlebells From the Ground Up… It is arguably one of the most under-rated and wonderfully beneficial programs you can do for your body. And the results are very fast – like in the same training session.

Here’s a case in point: I took a couple of my clients through some Kalos Sthenos inspired Get Up movements tonight and it opened both of them up in different ways. We tested their 2 Hand Swing between each set and the Swing just got cleaner, tighter, and crisper. So not only are we opening the body with safe mobility work and creating more efficient movement patterns, we can start to cement those patterns with load – the Swings.

For as much controversy as the Kalos Sthenos created in the kettlebell community last year when it was released, it truly is an epic piece of work.

(Ok, I’ll move on – I realize I’m off topic – point is – you need it and are cheating yourself if you don’t get it…)

Back to becoming a student of your body.

So learning how to listen to my body with regards to loading it, whether my mind wants to or not, has been highly beneficial so far. I’ve created new mobility, stability, and strength in both hips, which was the point of doing all this in the first place. Unfortunately, I’ve had to depart from what my mind wanted to do on many days. The great part has been competing against myself to become better in each training session. And I have.

I test out some of my newfound strength on old movements. My barbell clean baseline has moved up from where it was last year. I’ve still got about 25kg to go until I meet old baseline numbers, but I’m sure that gap will close very quickly as I give my body what I need.

I have also regained my overhead squat. I no longer need to look down at the floor. This, although a good idea at the time, was an aberrant movement pattern. I was using eye reflexes to initiate gross core musculature activation and stability instead of its natural reflexive pattern. I can now look straight ahead without any pain in the hips or knees and keep my torso much more upright. As a result, I can *almost* do a kettlebell Sots Press. Almost. I’ve never been able to do those. Now I know why…

So what’s my point with all this – where am I going?

First, you need to know what your body likes and needs. Because what your mind wants may not be what your body needs at this time. As an aside, I have a theory about body fat and this, but I’ll discuss that in the future… So how do you do that?

Simple. Three things:

  1. Get a training journal. Write down everything you do.
  2. Check your movement ability before and after each exercise. If you are moving better after each exercise, it’s good for you and your body likes it. If your moving worse, it’s a bad movement for you – at least on that day. Make sure you record this in your journal.
  3. Review your training journal before and after every workout – to check progress or lack thereof – and do the same on a weekly basis. Look for trends.

And that’s pretty much it. Nothing fancy. Nothing over the top. But, if you start doing this – becoming a student of your body – a partner with it if you will, then you will make faster progress than you are used to, perhaps faster than you can imagine.

I’ll keep you up to date with my progress. Try this out and let me know of yours.

9 comments… add one
  • Mike T Nelson Jan 20, 2010 @ 11:32

    Awesome update Geoff! Wise words for all of us to follow.

    Yes, everyone MUST listen to their body. The trick is that this is a skill that must be learned and using biofeedback gives everyone the tool to do it. As you experience, strength goes up.

    I truly believe the body wants and needs to be strong and healthy.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • Russ Moon Jan 20, 2010 @ 17:58

    Thank you for sharing your gain from following the coaching you provided to us. You must feel like superman given all the improvement and how much better you feel.

    TGU 5 reps 24kg roll to press, press to elbow with kbell in right hand.
    Left lower abdominals not wanting to contribute their full worth, so activating them first to let them know the work is coming.

    TGU 5 reps pausing in various positions to work on components of the position, I was surprised I could pause or bridge up and down without smoking myself. That unto itself, gaining more control was a good sign for me. Kettlebells from the Ground Up is on my desk so I am trying to mimic the positions…at least I know the material is pure;) Enjoying the practice.

  • PJ Jan 20, 2010 @ 20:27

    As the Guinness guys say “Brilliant !”

  • Russ Moon Jan 23, 2010 @ 23:12

    Test 280 snatches w 24kg in sets of 40 mostly
    Last set did 15 1arm swing, 1arm high pull, 1 arm snatch “complexes” 2 24kg.
    Ripped right palm thanks to overgripping…got my Huskers and Metal sand paper and callus file. Have a week to get this hand stuff together.

  • Russ Moon Jan 26, 2010 @ 19:27

    2 of my final HIT workouts prior to going into the gymboss VO2 world in Feb. Dips went from 12 bw to 8 w 45lbs in three weeks, not herculean but good improvement for me. Added 100 pounds in 10 rep leg press same time frame. Dropping all that stuff except dips in one week.

    TGU 24 kg 5 reps l/r arm “press to elbow” my sticking point
    TGU 24 kg 6 reps l/r arm – still working on staying vertical better and sucking in my shoulder

  • GEOFFN Jan 27, 2010 @ 12:22

    Russ – Yeah, I’m feeling really good lately. It’s a nice change. Glad to see you making improvements in all areas of your training.

    PJ – Thanks for stopping by! What’s new with you?

    Mike – Right on.

  • Russ Moon Jan 28, 2010 @ 18:34

    Thank you, you are leading the way Geoff.
    Weighed today, lost 8 pounds in last month on swings and get-ups. Still clinging to the TGU, I like it and the value goes beyond my current neuromuscular understanding. I see and feel alot of changes that feel strong and natural so going to keep working on the form. Took paint off my 24 kg, started sanding, learning gymboss programing preparing to countdown to VO2 max time. I’ll supply my own oxygen mask.

  • Mark Wilson Jan 31, 2010 @ 10:18

    This is great Geoffn. I stopped by to read, “The Coolest New Thing I’ve Learned….” and was clicking around when I came across this article. Listen to your body? Many people don’t and just keep grueling along like you mentioned in the beginning of the page. I’ve talked with Mike T and Adam about biofeedback. Plain and simple – if you apply it, it works. You and this article are just another example. Take care.

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