4 min read

Don't forget the 99 steps between 0 and 100

The urge to go straight from 0 to 100 can be strong. You just saw someone doing a cool lift so you got hit with a wave of motivation to try it and max out. That motivation and drive is great, but you need to remember that there are 99 steps between 0 and 100.

When you see something cool and want to try it, you only see that person’s 100 and you might be forgetting that they went through 99 other steps before getting there. For example, I like to do zercher deadlifts, but if you have never done one, or even done a jefferson curl, then it is a terrible idea to try your max on day one. It would be smart for you to build up all of the components and slowly build up your capacity for the movement - I do this for you in my lower back resilience program.

Give your body time to adapt

Your body might not be able to handle jumping right into a new activity if it is too different from what you usually do.

You need to slowly expose your body to the new exercise in order to let it build up the capacity to do it. It takes time for your muscles, tendons, etc. to adapt to the movement that you want to do. I am sure that you have felt this pain of trying something new or jumping back into an activity too fast before. I’m going to use the example of hockey (since I grew up playing it) - it’s the same as having that first skate after being off for a couple months in the summer. Your body isn’t used to the movement and even though you were running and lifting weights, you still felt like you got hit by a truck the next day. That was because it is such a different movement that your body had to work in ways it wasn’t used to.

By consistently doing the exercise at a level that you can recover from, your body will adapt to it and you will be able to hit the numbers that you were dreaming about when you first started.

Give your brain time to adapt

Just like your body, your brain needs time to get used to the movement, it won’t know what to do right from day one.

An often overlooked part about trying a new exercise is that it is a completely new motor skill. Sure, there may be some similarities to other things that you have done, but at the end of the day your brain needs to learn the specifics about the movement to produce the proper outcome.

Taking deadlifts and zercher deadlifts as an example you can see a lot of similarities:

  • You have to do a hip hinge
  • The bar is starting on the ground
  • You finish the movement standing up
  • They both have the word deadlift in their names

But to your brain they might seem more different than similar. One obvious thing is tha you use the crooks of your elbows for zercher deadlifts. This changes the range of motion greatly so your brain needs to understand how to produce force in a completely different position. Another thing that this changes is how the weight affects your center of mass. In a zercher deadlift, the bar ends up much further away from your hips and finishes way higher, this causes your center of mass to go all over the place - again changing the motor pattern that the brain has to use in order to produce force and keep you balanced. If your brain used the same motor skill for both movements you would end up falling over when you try to do a zercher deadlift.

The bad news is that motor learning can take a while. Your brain is testing out a bunch of different connections and slowly getting rid of the ones that aren’t as good as others. This is also why some days you can be amazing at a new skill, then have absolutely no clue how to do it the next day - your brain is just trying out different connections to find the best one.

Be patient and enjoy the process

Since learning a movement may take some extra time for your brain, it is important to be patient with yourself and learn to love the process.

Your body and brain both take time to adapt and you can’t force them to adapt faster - this means that you can only progress when you are ready to. You can’t force adaptation to happen by throwing on an extra 10 lbs every workout, at some point you are going to have to be comfortable with lifting the same weight for a few weeks. The adaptation occurs THEN you can increase the weight, not the opposite way around.

Take time to slow down and really enjoy the process and notice what about the movement feels good. By staying in tune with your body you will avoid unnecessary failures, stay more motivated, be more consistent, and ultimately make more gains. Even if you are doing the same weight as the last workout, you are still climbing the steps just by actually doing the workout. You may also find that certain parts of the movement are more difficult than others, and by taking it slowly it will allow you to take more time to refine your performance with those parts, setting you up to have a higher ceiling.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this helps you to progress in a smart way when trying new things. If you liked this read (or not) then please DM me on instagram - I love hearing the feedback so that I can improve the content that I am giving out to you!