Soooo now that I have successfully stuffed my face with turkey and all the fixins’, survived Black Friday, and gotten my Christmas shopping done it’s time to get in the last of the training before my upcoming meet: 2011 AAU Big Iron Christmas Challange.  Tis the season to crush some PRs.

Training has been going pretty smooth considering the intense volume of the Sheiko program that I have been following which is a tad bit more than what I am used to.  And when I say tad bit, I mean almost double what I am accustomed to.

All in all I am feeling stronger than ever, no injuries (knock on wood) and my Novembeard has finally reached it’s potential.  I have even been told that I look like gladiator when I intimidate the weights.  Feel free to come to the meet and stick dolla dolla bills in my singlet.

As today was the last day that I am supposed to be doing any significant deadlifting I thought I would pull a single or two in the 90% range.  All pulls not being equal, I made it through my warmup sets and a few working sets at around 350ish and felt like the bar was weighing a little on the heavy side.  (still clean reps mind you).  Enter autoregulation.

(Note from Steve: NEVER.  Nevereverevereverever continue to lift if your lifts look like crap.)

What is Autoregulation?

Since strength and conditioning is not a constant (e.g. a straight line) there are always unexpected variables that get in your way.  Whether it is sleep, diet, stress, work, or ex-girlfriend related it always comes back to bite your training in the ass.  Hey, we all have bad days but you’ll get em’ tomorrow tiger!  Here is an atypical strength curve:


Simply, autoregulation is accounting for the unexpected variables in training.  Your body tells you what you are able to handle on a given day.  For instance, if you reps look and feel like shit, they probably are.  Stop training for the day OR lighten the load to a manageable amount.

If you are one of those people that “works through it” when you are feeling tired or having a shitty day thinking you are doing yourself a favor…you are not.  When your body tells you to slow down it is typically for a good reason.  To stay in the game longer and see constant improvements you have to practice smart, efficient training principles.

Needless to say there will be some days where you don’t want to train (we all have them) and you hit a crazy PR.  But remember, there is a difference between not wanting to do something and just plain old feeling like crap.  And as a strength coach I can tell the difference *glares at the crowd*

One of the easiest ways to determine whether you should autoregulate and drop the volume or weight down for the day is simply to use your RPE’s.  These are similar to your ABC’s and OPP’s. Yeah you know me!

Anyways your RPE or rate of perceived exertion is the most subjective form of autoregulation since you are rating on a scale how you are feeling.  Like on a scale of 1 to awesome, how awesome was the last video?  If your feeling like a 2 and lifting like a 10, there is a good chance injury looms.

Lifting at a respectable RPE will prevent you from putting too much weight on the bar and lifting or training to failure.  Which I have said many, many, many times that you should never do.  But to reiterate, it simply puts undue stress on the body, impairs performance and gains and can lead to serious injury.

Since this is a beginner’s article, I won’t get too much into other forms of autoregulation such as fatigue percents, TRAC, and your CNS (central nervous system) which may provide one of the biggest insights into your training.  Just know that when your smoked, your CNS is double smoked.

In closing, I finished my deadlift singles at 405 (85%) today even though I know I can easily do more on a good day.  The meet is in 14 days and the worst thing I could do now is overtrain.  The taper starts now and I’m confident that I will PR at the meet.

Final thought: Lift heavy, lift often, lift smart, listen to your body.

Written by Steve