As soon as you start hitting the gym, you would see that your body would respond to the change. If you are there for muscle-building, you would notice brisk muscle development. However, with time you would see that the rate of this change slows down.
This is because at some point of time, you would have to move beyond a fixed program and let your body tell you how much to train. If your program schedules you to lift 60 pounds, but your body is comfortable in lifting 80, there is no harm in travelling that extra mile and giving your body an added boost of strength.
Autoregulated training is all about going beyond a fixed training schedule and training according to the way one’s body feels on a particular day. It involves deciding the weight for the next set on the basis of the weight one is lifting in the present. You keep pushing your body further till the last set almost fails.
The benefit of Autoregulated training
Anyone who starts going to the gym loves following a program.
In the first few weeks, everyone has this mindset that if I stick to this program and keep doing as asked, I would easily reach my goal.
Is it really that simple?
Unfortunately, gaining strength is not that easy. This is because your body’s response is going to slow down as you continue to train. As it gets more and more conditioned to lift heavier, it would require a more powerful push to keep on giving that same response. This push is given by autoregulated training.
The major benefit of autoregulated training is in the freedom you get, to train based on how you feel on a day.
Let’s face this: Most of us have a lot of things to handle in our life. Work, family, friends, sleep etc. affect how we feel, and hence, impact the amount of effort we put in our workout. Based on how your day has been, a particular weight may feel lighter or heavier.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
Assuming, you are all about following a strict program: working out after office, exercising as per schedule, the exact weight, and the exact reps. One Monday evening, your workout schedule tells you to take 4 sets of 10 repetitions each at 100 pounds of weights. Let’s again assume that you were out with friends on Sunday night, had an incomplete sleep followed by a stressful Monday. Now, the program schedules you to do something that is troublesome considering how you spent your weekend.
Then, this is how it is going to be: You complete the first two sets with much ease. But as you move further, you realize that your body is just not ready for 10 repetitions in the next two sets. If you push too hard, there is always a risk of a probable injury, a strain in your back or a tweak in your shoulder. A minor injury to keep you out of gym for at least a week.
To avoid that you cut your third set to 7 repetitions and fourth to 5. This is obviously better than putting your body at risk of an injury. But again, you did not accomplish your target and this may leave you frustrated.
With autoregulated training, you can avoid this problem altogether. You start the first set with 100 pounds and realize the second set is just not going to be this easy. So, you reduce the load to 90 pounds which is more comfortable for you, considering your body is not ready.
Here, you will analyze and monitor how your body is responding on that day and adjust the weights accordingly. This also stands true for the opposite case when your body is feeling great, and even after 4 sets you still want more.
You will have to follow some caution
Everything is not hunky dory with autoregulated training as it comes with its own share of disadvantages. If you can handle these, you are set to gain a lot from this method of workout.
- Time: You will be changing your weights after every rep and this will increase the overall time of workout. When most of us are making a great effort to squeeze some time out from our daily schedule just to go to the gym, this method of exercise will increase workout time by about half an hour.
- Don’t begin in the beginning: Autoregulated training requires sufficient knowledge of the intensity your body can handle on any given day. My gym trainer kept me on a periodic schedule for 6 months. Its been about 4-5 months since I started autoregulating my workout, and I still find myself confused on the amount of weight I should start with. This method requires a good amount of experience and obviously, a proper understanding of body.
- Who will be your partner: You start auto regulation with an aim that your last set would fail. In such a case, you would always need a gym partner or some attention from the trainer. They will provide you the required support to get through the last set or at the least ensure that you do not fall or get a jerk while trying to complete your set.
- Patience is a must: You have to keep your patience. You have to continue with the regimen even when things aren’t going your way.
P.S. Mostly you would never hear this term in the gym because once the trainer drops the word ‘autoregulated’ training, you would start asking questions. However, if you are 6 months into the gym, your trainer is going to push you on this schedule without letting you know that the schedule is called ‘autoregulated training’.
But now you know all about this technique, so happy working out.
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Last Updated: May 22, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: July 22, 2014