Warning: This article is badly written, mostly contains large elements that can only be called a rant. It’s somewhat controversial to many I’m sure, and isn’t really in a logical order, more a collection of thoughts poured down in writing.. However, hopefully it’ll contain some points that you can take away. So please, read on!
You are NOT overthinking. A strong, thinking ‘meathead’ will always better a strong ‘meathead’.
In my opinion there’s always room for analysing, testing then re-analysing your training. Overthinking in my opinion, to give an example is, ‘should I have my preworkout 50minutes before or 55minutes before I train’? That doesn’t matter. However, I’m regularly hearing people say “I’m just going to do what works for me. Eat big, lift big”. If you train for strength, lifting has never been as simple as that. NEVER, and it never will. When people say this it always makes me think of this video. And I’m sure we can all agree. We don’t just ‘pick things up and put them down’.
To train effectively and efficiently we need to train hard, and smart. There’s always room for training with dedication, busting your gut and getting things done within a well thought out program. That is a given, and if this ball busting attitude isn’t in your training, that’s something wrong with you, not your program. Working hard and training smart are NOT mutually exclusive.
“We need to go back to the old school training”
People also say, “Years ago people were strong, modern lifters are too busy overthinking”…Rubbish, the protocols we have now are there precisely because people were thinking every time they stepped in the gym. Those old school guys we idolise and see as great, are just that because they tread new ground; from Arnie and his mates in Venice beach, to the ‘nerdy’ Russian professors creating the strongest mutants to walk this earth in the old soviet Russia. How often do we hear the western world in awe at the strength of the eastern Europeans, and especially the glory years of strength training in the Soviet Union. All the time. Yet we forget these guys had every inch of their training poured over by experienced coaches, exercise and bio-mechanic professors at Russia’s leading universities. You tell them they were overthinking. Note, I’m not saying everyone should have university scientist level analysis of their training. Far from it. I’m simply questioning if the strength community really is overthinking. I’d argue we’re not thinking enough. To quote Mike Tuchscherer in the reactive training manual,
“You need to be a student of the Sport and learn about it. I’m going to repeat that: You need to BE A STUDENT OF THE SPORT AND LEARN ABOUT IT! Read about it. Think about it. Talk to your training partners about it. Then, you make an educated decision on what you need to do” (p31).
But it works for me!
So it works for you does it? How do you know this? How do you really know? Have you tested it?
In my (limited) experience, this obsession with not overthinking and going back to basics is misconstrued by many as going back to training as a beginner. Many don’t even seem to realise that’s exactly what they end up doing when they decide to “cut all the extra ‘complicated stuff’ and (the classic) eat big, lift big”. When in reality moving to the next step, or overcoming a plateau can be about taking the time to analyse and reassess our training. Not, “lets just go back to how I trained when I started because I made progress then”. We know that strength training involves putting our bodies under progressive levels of stress. Overcoming and adapting to these levels of stress is the fundamental system that will make us stronger. This is undeniable.
Still with me? almost done I promise
So a question for YOU the reader to see how much of an overthinker you actually are. Hands up who thinks recording and analysing weekly volume is overthinking? To many I’m sure this would be a big, “man you need to get off your calculator and just go lift some weights”. Well guess what, to intermediate strength athletes and above, its standard basic program analysis. Perhaps there’s a correlation between these individuals analysing their training, and the fact they can now call themselves intermediate, experienced and elite lifters. If there’s ever an observable correlation in the strength community; this in my opinion is one of the most blindingly obvious, but a so easily missed relationship. I’m a big fan of the strength community, but this is an area I’d encourage you to separate yourself from and not follow current consensus. If you want to make the transition from a lifter that’s just been lifting for 2 years, to someone that’s on the path to being an intermediate lifter and beyond; become a student of the sport.
You are NOT overthinking. I realise this is quite a heavy article, but if you made it here, thank you. I appreciate the time you took to wade through this. I hope in return you found some of it beneficial to you.
Train Hard. Train Smart.
Strong Body. Strong Mind.