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The Art of Pacing

The Art of Pacing

The Art of Pacing: How To Stop Pacing Yourself By Chris Kresser

Pace yourself! I’m not talking about the kind where you walk at a steady pace with no breaks in between. That’s fine if you’re running or biking around town, but it doesn’t work when it comes to weight training.

You need to slow down and breathe deeply while doing so. And don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to do this without ever stopping your workout.

You see, there are three main types of exercises that you’ll want to avoid during your weight training sessions:

1) Exercises that require intense muscle contractions for extended periods of time (e.

g., pull ups, pushups). These are great for building strength and endurance, but they’re too taxing on the nervous system.

They cause overtraining syndrome and other negative effects.

2) Exercises that involve high levels of eccentric (lowering) and concentric (raising) motion (e.

g., squats, deadlifts, chin ups). These activities are great for building size and strength, but they’re too stressful on the nervous system.

They cause overuse injuries like tendinitis and rhabdomyolysis.

3) Exercises that use momentum to move the body through space (e.

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g., sprints). These activities are great for getting into better cardiovascular shape, but they’re too taxing on the muscles and joints.

They also cause injury.

There’s nothing wrong with doing any of these exercises, but you need to save them for different sessions on non-training days. They should also make up a relatively small portion of your weekly training routine. If you train these exercises into the ground on a regular basis, you’ll end up burning yourself out in no time.

How to Stop Pacing Yourself: Proven Strategies

The best way to minimize the taxing effects of exercises 1) 2) and 3) is to use much lighter weights and to focus on pacing during your weight training sessions. Here are a few tips you can use during your next training session:

1. Breathe Deep and Steady

I learned this one from my friend, coach and powerlifter Mark Bell.

The trick here is to breath slowly and steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. When you’re exhaling, try to make your stomach stick out a bit so that it’s deflated as far as possible. Then, when you breathe in, your stomach should come back a bit (but not all the way) and your chest should expand.

You want the exhale cycle to be at least twice as long as the inhale cycle.

Do this throughout the entirety of your training routine. Not only will it help keep the nervous system at ease, but it will also keep your body’s internal pressure from getting too high and causing blood vessels to swell. This could lead to dizziness, blurred vision, and even fainting.

The deeper you breathe and longer you hold the breath, the more calming effect it can have on your body. However, you want to be careful about this since overdoing it can lead to hypoxia (not getting enough oxygen).

2. Focus on the Process

This tip comes courtesy of T Nation contributor Ian Larkin.

Ian suggests that whenever you’re doing an exercise, you should only focus on the motions of that specific exercise and not worry about how many reps are left, how much weight you’re using, or how much time has passed.

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Instead, you should only focus on what you’re doing in that moment. This eliminates extraneous thoughts and keeps you in the “present.” This is especially helpful for beginners who may be unfamiliar with the exercises.

However, even experienced lifters can use this strategy to make sure they’re continually getting better.

By keeping your mind in the moment, you stay more focused on what you’re doing and less focused on other things.

3. Make it a “Happy Place”

It’s human nature to want to avoid things that are bad for us. If something is making you unhappy or causing you anxiety, you’ll probably go to great lengths to make yourself feel better (or at least stop feeling so bad).

This same concept is why many people can’t stay on diets for very long. They feel deprived and unhappy, so they give up before they see any progress.

Since training can be stressful for many people, it’s a good idea to make the experience more enjoyable. There’s a lot you can do to make this happen. You can listen to your favorite music, watch TV, or even entertain friends.

Most of the time when you’re in the gym, you’ll probably have your headphones on.

However, I think it’s important that once in a while you go to the gym with no distractions at all. The complete silence can actually be a bit meditative. This is especially true if you’re just squatting or pulling heavy deadlifts.

When you’re in a “quiet” gym, it gives you an opportunity to get away from the noise of the world and just focus on the one thing that’s making you stronger: your training.

The next time you go to the gym, try going with no music or entertainment. Instead, try to enjoy the peace and quiet. You might be surprised how refreshed you feel after your workout.

Final Thoughts

Everyone gets stressed out from time to time. These tips are great for keeping your body and mind from falling into a state of chronic stress. However, if you find yourself getting excessively stressed on a regular basis, you should consult a medical professional.

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The last thing you want is to have your “fight or flight” response becoming dysfunctional.

Sources & references used in this article: