Sunday, June 10, 2018

QUIT BEING A COWARD: STOP MICROLOADING



Boy am I certain that title is going to rile some folks up, but my regular readers probably have thick skin by now, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: everything I write in this blog is essentially my current self yelling at my past self.  I made all these mistakes, to include this one.  For my less insane readers out there that live normal lives and would have no idea what microloading even means, it refers to the practice of using fractional weights (1lb or less) to very very slowly add weight to the bar between workouts, eventually working up to the smallest real plate (2.5lbs per side) increase.  Why does microloading equate to cowardice?  Because a microloader is simply someone who refuses to abandon their current programming for ANY reason and instead seeks to apply the wimpiest, dumbest possible means to continue assured progression.  Rather than take any risks whatsoever, they instead insist on going for the guaranteed .000000000000001% return on investment.  They are the folks making $.17 a year off their investments and saying “well at least it’s progress!”.  No, it’s not progress: it’s cowardice.  Go be brave and get some growth.

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Stupid will do in a pinch

Microloading almost always goes hand in hand with linear progression, which is essentially the “hooked on phonics” of lifting as far as programming goes.  It’s kinda sorta programming, but really it’s taking just ONE aspect of programming (overload), applying it to only ONE aspect of training (weight on the bar) and then saying that all the necessary thinking is done.  Always keep the reps and weights the same, always keep the movements the same, always do things in the same order on the same day, just put more weight on the bar.  Congrats!  You can program lifting!  Quick, go write an e-book and make an app, become an Instagram coach, and be incredibly snarky on the internet whenever someone asks about training.  Hey wait, how come some folks use different reps?  Because they’re idiots of course!  That, or advanced trainees.  Or on steroids.  Probably all 3 really.

So where does microloading fit in?  Again, with linear progression being a total one-tricky pony, eventually that one trick stops working.  If the only thing you ever needed to do was just keep adding weight to the bar, there would be 1000lb benchers in every gym.  Milo of Croton’s story of the calf was a myth folks; eventually things stall and new programming has to be introduced.  But not if you MICROLOAD!  Nope, you don’t need to do anything different if you microload; you can just keep on slapping more weight on the bar and riding out your linear gains for as long as possible.  Well, slapping is probably the wrong term, because you’ll most likely break a microplate if you slap it on.  “Gingerly place it on”, is probably more accurate.  But either way, joy of joys, you STILL don’t have to think, and can just keep on being the lifting monkey.

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Just think: if you microload from the START, you'll NEVER stop progressing!

Coward!  Go take a risk and try something new!  Your program has STOPPED working: all you are doing now is just riding out the slow death rattle as the corpse settles.  You are the desperate clinger on in a failed relationship sending unanswered text messages and looking for ANY sign of hope.  It’s over!  Move on!  Because guess what?  You’re in the best possible situation you can be in!  What you are doing does not work, which means you now have the freedom to do ANYTHING you want.  Any program now is available for your undertaking, and will most likely result in something better than your current approach.  Even if your new program doesn’t work (which, by the way, is pretty much impossible with enough effort), you’ll learn more through FAILING a new program than you will from desperately clinging on to your old one.  Now is the time to make mistakes and learn something.

Want some examples?  Sure thing.  How about something that completely spits in the face of microloading: Dan John’s “Quarters and Plates” idea?  Only use 25s and 45s in your training?  “Hah, yeah, good luck going from a 135 to a 185 bench, let me know how that works out!” Hey, shut up for a second because you sound stupid, it works REALLY well.  Know how you make the jump?  Get to the point that you can bench 135 for 15 good reps, and then jump up to 185 and watch what happens.  And then, when you can get 185 for 15 reps, throw on 225 and watch what happens.  I’ve used this method with squatting (both regular and front squats) with amazing success to the point that I genuinely wonder why I don’t do it with other movements.  The opposite of microloading; this is MACROLOADING, and it works AND you will actually get bigger and stronger through the process.  And hell, you might actually learn something.

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Method may not work in all instances

There are SO many ways to create progress in training that it’s just about ridiculous, but it’s ALSO true that nothing works forever and changes NEED to be made to continue to grow.  The only thing you can do to really sabotage yourself in that regard is refuse to make changes.  Programs work until they don’t, and instead of trying to figure out how to make it all work again, be thankful for the good ride you got and move on to the next stage.  After a few different programs, you can most likely come back to what worked before and find out it works AGAIN: it just needed a break.  And this is why people cry “there are so many programs: it’s too confusing!” not realizing that this is an example of all the avenues of success available to them.  Just do yourself the favor of NOT trying to make your new program fit into the paradigm of your old one.  Don’t try to do 20 rep squats with 3x5s for everything BUT the squats, don’t try to do Westside Barbell’s approach with 5/3/1s loading, don’t try to run HIT training with a Bulgarian daily max, etc etc.  Your program STOPPED working, so quit trying to bring it back and go do a NEW program. 

Be brave, explore those uncharted waters, and reap the benefits of being a pioneer. Let everyone else stay back home and catch the plague.  Comfort never made anyone strong.

8 comments:

  1. I have always wanted to make a joke blog about linear progression, and go up 5lbs every week or every other week on lifts and see if would ever catch on and how long it would take anyone to.

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    1. I'm at the point where most folks assume my log is a joke anyway.

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  2. Props for the Dan John reference!

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    1. Dan is the man. His book "Never Let Go" was awesome.

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  3. I bought a pair of microplates in 2012. To be honest I can't remember my incentive at the time - possibly from having a shoulder injury and not being creative enough in progressive overload methods for the comeback. Have barely used them since, and when I do it's purely for the sake of having them. I just can't think of a reason why I would need to go up in weight so insignificantly.

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    1. I was tempted to do the same thing back in the day. It's so comforting to just keep doing what you're doing and make VERY small adjustments. And the market knows exactly what they're doing when they sell them, because the price is ridiculous, haha.

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  4. Microplates do have one purpose: When you want to add a 5th plate to each side of the bar but the bar jack is in use, so you roll it up onto the micro.

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    1. Hah! Assuming they don't crumble under the weight.

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