Your workouts should always be a qualitative experience as opposed to just externally quantitative.  Everything to do with a great productive workout can’t be reduced down to external cues and numbers such as the weight used for an exercise or going by the clock for rest times and just counting reps because that’s what is listed on a piece of paper or in your smart phone

The focus and emphasis of any workout should be experiencing it internally and following biofeedback cues to train the muscle and not the movement.  The focus should be put on feeling the muscle stretch and contract, the weight you select for an exercise means nothing if you can’t execute every inch of every rep of every set of every workout properly.  Let’s say you’re doing a set of an exercise listed to complete 10 reps, well that 10 reps means nothing if you begin to fatigue at 6 reps and start to panic and try to make it to 10 by any means necessary by shortening the range of motion and performing fast, sloppy reps.

That wouldn’t be experiencing the workout, that’s just going off what’s listed for a workout on a piece of paper instead of listening to your body and responding to your own biofeedback.  An experienced trainee and someone in tune with themselves would aim to tighten up their form even more at the same point to really increase the intensity and stress on the targeted muscle and how many reps they get is how many they get and the next set they would know to decrease the load in order to reach failure within the specified rep range.  These are called “internal reps” and we should always strive for them every inch of every rep of every set of every workout, whereas the first example is just counting externally.

Another qualitative cue that most trainees seldom address or even experience for that matter is oxygen debt.  This is basically how hard you are breathing after each set and is indicative of how hard you are actually training and how close to your own workload capacity you are.  This is the best way to gauge your true workout performance and intensity, not by how much weight you are using or just trying to increase the amount used for the sake of increasing it, thinking that is training harder.  You should be breathing hard and in some state of oxygen debt after each working set when training near your workload capacity and this is how you also gauge rest times between sets, no two people recover at the same speed, you can improve on this but it makes zero sense to go by a clock externally when the emphasis should be placed internally by your own breathing and perceived level of recovery and next set readiness.

I could have the best recipe from the greatest chef in the world but if you have no idea how to cook, it’s meaningless.  It’s not the recipe it’s the chef that makes it great and creates the dish and brings it to life from what’s listed on a piece of paper.  This is the exact same thing as experiencing a workout from what’s listed on paper and bringing it to life, it’s not the workout program; it’s the trainee!  It’s up to you to use qualitative training techniques to “create” the training experience from whatever source you are using for your workouts.

Stop being so quantitative in your workouts and focus on experiencing them internally, there are so many things going on inside the body when you train a muscle properly, that only you can feel internally and can’t be measured or quantified externally.  Being qualitative will help anyone turn the page in their development and soon what you used to think was important to your progress; becomes minutia!

Qualitative techniques are the key, otherwise a workout listed on a piece of paper is just a bunch of exercises with sets and reps.

Yours in fitness,
Andy Sinclair

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