Training Preparedness

Arnold squatting

In the past, when I’m really dialed in with my training, I often record two numbers every workout – my rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and my rating of technique (RT).

RPE gives me a general idea of how hard I was training that day.  For instance, we all know we’ve had days in the gym where the light weights feel heavy, and vice versa.  RPE helps us track how we feel on any given day, or for any given workout.

RT allows us (or a coach) to track how well we executed our primary lifts for that day.  Technique is a dynamic process – it’s constantly changing.  Therefore it’s important to see how our technique is coming along over the course of a training cycle or training career.

A final component that I’m tracking more often both with myself and my clients is their training preparedness.  Basically, we’ll have them come in, warm-up, and determine how psyched they are to train that day.  Over the course of weeks or months, we can start to determine the best way we want to train a client on any given day.

This is part of what Mel Siff was talking about when he discussed cybernetic periodization – starting to match the level of training intensity with the clients preparedness to train on any given day.

Think about it like this – a client is supposed to have a max effort session on Monday, but over the weekend his girlfriend broke up with him, he drank like a fish, and his dog died.  How well prepared do you think he’s going to be to train on that Monday?

It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates a point. As you delve deeper into your training career, it pays off to know your body and what it’s capable of on any given day.  Start tracking your training preparedness, and over the course of the next couple of months I wouldn’t be shocked if you learned a thing or two about your training.

Stay strong



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  1. Another eye opener here. So often we get caught up in the numbers of how much weight or how long we are training and we forget the intangibles that are supposed to keep us hungry and motivated. In trying to track these we can become more cognizant of our energy levels and mood, and what factors prime us to have a really amazing and satisfying session.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Great article however is seems to me like you are describing training "readiness" for a given day rather than their "preparedness".

  3. This is excellent advice, Mike! The psycho-somatic element of training is so often overlooked. It is very hard to predict future workouts when we are not in control of (or know the mechanism) of so many physiological variables. I threw out my written exercise program years ago because of this. Chasing a number can get you burned. I now plan on training regularly, but as you do with your clients, I go through my general warm-up, mobility, corrective exercises, and my light warm-up for my main lifts. At that point, I consider how I am feeling and decide if I will train hard that day (perhaps hit a PR) or just get a short, easy workout (active recovery). It is nice to now walk out of the gym feeling good just about all the time now that I have adapted this system.

  4. That's good stuff Mike.
    Definitely my crew and I have noticed that strength is not always constant — some days you will just not lift as much!
    After a high volume week (I follow Cressey's Max Strength template), my lifts drop to deload the week after –whether I want to or not!!
    Also, as an earlier poster was mentioning cognitive states –I only listen to two songs when performing challenging sets. Both are by Meshugga, and they seem to signal to my body "ok, it's time to get serious." Otherwise I just can't focus.

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