A “stick point” is a weak point in a lift where you have a tendency to stall when the weight gets heavy. Like when you get stuck three inches from your chest on a heavy bench press.
Hitting a stick point always frustrates me because I know that if I could just somehow force the weight over that point it would go up the rest of the way fairly easily.
Most people recognize these physical sticking points and work on them. They do exercises to strengthen their weak points like starting their bench from their stick point and locking out.
But very few people ever recognize their mental “stick points.” Most people never try to push themselves beyond that first muscle burn or fatigue because they believe that they are truly and utterly at their limit. They never test that limit or try to move beyond that mental stick point by performing one more rep or using just a little bit more weight.
I believe that with most people the mind will fail before the body does. We feel fatigued and our brain will start telling us we are too tired to continue. BUT our body still has the capacity to perform a few more reps.
The question is…which do you listen to? Do you listen to your brain telling you that you are tired or do you push your body until you can’t lift that weight one more time and your muscles are shaking?
I’ve found that most of my clients stop when their brain tells them they are tired and their muscles first start to burn.
I’ll watch them as they do bicep curls to press. The weights will still be moving fluidly through the motion with no muscle shake or even a slowing of pace. BUT they will be telling me they can’t possibly do one more. They will try to stop or take a break before the set is over. I push them to finish. I can tell their muscles still have more reps left in them while their brain is screaming out to them that they are tired.
And most like to be pushed like this (especially when they realize that they will get great results from pushing themselves!).
It was nice to have a client realize that she hadn’t been pushing herself to her limit. The other day she told me that she would never have done more than 10 repetitions with 10 pounds if I hadn’t forced her to use 15lbs and do 20 repetitions.
She was amazed at the fact that, while she struggled to perform the last few reps, she could in fact do that much weight for that many repetitions. I pushed her to move beyond the fatigue that she thought meant she had pushed herself hard. I helped her do the extra reps and weight that pushed her beyond her mental stick point.
So next time you think you couldn’t possibly do one more rep or use a little more weight, try it! Don’t go crazy with this of course…you don’t want to be unsafe and drop a weight on your head or cause yourself to barf (unless you are into that), but do CHALLENGE yourself.
If you challenge yourself, the worst thing that will happen is your body will fail. You won’t be able to do that one extra push up or lift those two extra pounds. BUT that failure will move you closer to success the next time!
So work on those mental stick points. They may be holding you back from getting the exact results you want! Just remember…your brain will give up before you body has to!!
The answer seems to be…yes.
Candy told me last night that the workout I designed (which ended with Medball Burpee Slams and Sumo Deadlift High Pulls) made her want to barf.
This morning a new client also told me that she felt nauseated. She said she’d never felt like that before during a workout.
So what is it about me and my workouts that make people want to barf?
The workouts are fast paced. The workouts cram as much stuff into as short a time as possible. You usually have very little rest. And I try to incorporate as many full-body exercises as possible so that I fatigue each and every muscle as much as possible. I also love to push you by adding in challenging weights. And I try to add in burpees as often as possible (or as one of my clients calls them…barfies).
Plus I’m always looking to add in more reps and sets than you would normal push yourself to do.
So that is how I make people want to barf. Because I push them to do way more than they would usually do. I force them to challenge their bodies. And because their bodies aren’t used to the challenge (or in Candy and my case because we push ourselves to the point of no return), they feel like they are going to barf…or at least they get light-headed.
Do I take pride in making people want to barf? No…unless it is Candy or me. But I do take pride in the fact that I force people to work hard and even make them enjoy the challenge….at least I figure they like the challenge since they keep purchasing more sessions….
Does all of this make me and anyone else that loves working out till they feel sick a little sadistic? Yes, probably so.
So when I workout, I do what I think of as Man Bicep training. It combines some Crossfit workouts with some power lifting and some high intensity interval training. I do circuits; I do tabata workouts; I do some slow lifts. But each and every workout, I push something to almost absolute failure. GO BIG OR GO HOME. I’m slightly sadistic…I know…
But I realize that not everyone wants to push themselves to quite that extreme. And I understand that. We each have different tolerance for different things. But sometimes I’m just so disappointed by how little people want to push themselves.
The mind gives up way before the body needs to. But most people can’t push their mind past the initial fatigue of their body. Which can sometimes make being a trainer difficult.
It’s been interesting trying to figure out just how hard to push some clients. Clients all tell you they want someone to push them – they want someone to design a program for them. They all say they want work hard. BUT what they are really saying is “I only want to be put through a workout I wouldn’t usually think of, but I don’t really want to be too sore. BUT I also want to see fast results.” They also usually want just really want someone to be there for them when they work out. They want a “friend” to motivate them to workout.
And while trainers are there to create new and interesting workouts and motivate and create results, they are also there to push you beyond where you think is acceptable. You won’t ever see results or improve your fitness if they don’t (unless you are a natural Man Biceper!). Don’t tell a trainer a weight is too much. They are watching your form and will know if it is too heavy. Don’t tell a trainer an exercise is too hard just because there is a slight burn in your legs. Don’t tell your trainer what your workout should be. YOU HIRED THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE THE EXPERT!!! LISTEN TO THEM!
And trainers, stop giving in to your clients. Yes, you must be flexible and deal with each client in a way that matches their personality, fitness level and work ethic but you don’t have to be play dough. You must remember that you are there to improve their health. That you are there to get results and that you must push them beyond where they think their limit is. Sometimes you have to push super gently, but still YOU HAVE TO PUSH! Show you are the expert! Show that your job is about improving someone’s fitness and not just taking their money and giving them the workout they THINK they want!!!!
And by the way…all you women who are reading this and thinking you would never lift heavy weights…let me refute all of your excuses…READ THIS!
Let’s create a Man Bicep generation!!!