Monday, May 12, 2014


In our current culture, we have grown to become more in tune with our feelings.  We are encouraged to process our feelings, not bottle things up, and express our feelings whenever possible to share with others.  Our feelings are good, and having them hurt is bad, and those in turn who would seek to hurt our feelings are “bullies”, of which we have no tolerance.

We may be here a while

However, we need to understand that our feelings are not reality, they are simply a perception of reality.  As such, to allow them to dictate how and why we train is foolish, as we will ignore real data for that which is greatly misleading.  In many cases, how we feel is merely an approximation of reality, and not a close one at that, meaning that to trust it is to err too far on the side of caution.

Many trainees base how they train purely on how they feel.  If, after a workout, they do not feel that they got enough of a workout, they either add more or they change workouts.  The “feeling” of working out enough is inconsequential, one either did or did not work out enough.  You should not feel one way or the other about this matter, you simply should do or not do.  We see this same instance with trainees claiming that they do not feel as though they are gaining strength fast enough.  This is not a feeling, it is a data point, one that we can (and should) chart.  To leave the measuring of our progress to feeling rather than actual quantifiable metrics is foolish to the point of insanity.  We must not rely on feelings, but on reality.

Because, sometimes, what's really happening doesn't map onto what we think is happening

Feelings also lead us astray when we have no actual frame of reference.  I have witnessed many trainees who refuse to squat low bar because they claim it feels like the bar is going to slip off their back.  These trainees have never actually had a bar slip off their back to know what that actually feels like, but they somehow claim to know that the sensation they are presently feeling is that feeling.  I have known other trainees that refuse to press with a certain grip width because, to them, it feels like their shoulder is about to dislocate.  As someone with 6 shoulder dislocations, I can tell you that I never knew what it was going to feel like before it happened, only after.  These people trust their feelings over their experiences, placing their faith in an idea they have never witnessed versus believing in a reality that they have actually experienced and can replicate.  Is this not madness?

Other times, we use our feelings as a justification to do less, as though a feeling is in and of itself enough of a reason to stop an action.  A trainee may claim that they must stop conditioning because they feel like they are going to throw up.  Often times, when given the opportunity to throw up anyway and just keep training, we find that these trainees still had quite a bit more left in them, and that all they were experiencing was the fear of pain.  A trainee actually pushed to the point of vomiting tends to find the experience too rapid to be able to complain about, and tends to also be driven enough to keep moving anyway.  In other cases, a trainee may stop using a certain technique because they feel pain.  I have many times seen a trainee say that they can’t low bar squat because they feel pain in their wrists or shoulders, as though that is reason enough to stop.  I contend that, as long as one can continue moving through the plan of movement, they can continue lifting, and it is simply up to them to endure the pain and grow stronger.  The sheer presence of discomfort is not a reason to stop an activity, it is simply a part of the experience.

Your feelings are not data points.  What you feel is not justification to start or stop an activity.  How you feel about your progress is immaterial to if you are or are not progressing.  Your feelings do not give you a pass, nor do they dictate your success.  It is up to you to perform in spite of your feelings, and to recognize what is real, and what is simply perception.

In short, f**k your feelings.


  1. Great post brother. Much needed mentality in today's gyms.

    1. Thanks man. It still confounds me whenever I encounter it, haha.