The alarm goes off. It’s 4:55am.
You bounce out of bed, feeling well rested and alert, sliding on your workout gear that you had intentionally laid out the night before; the limited edition fluro release from the WOD-LIFE.
After a few sips of water, you grab your bag and make for the door.
The program has snatches – your favourite – and during the warm up, your body quickly feels primed, ready and snappy.
You have a spring in your step as you load the bar and during the second pull, the bar connects perfectly, popping itself into a strong overhead position.
It’s a good day. You leave the gym feeling energised and almost as if you could have done more.
You found the sweet spot today.
Next week however is a different story…
The alarm sounds harsh this morning and you hit the snooze button, not once, but twice.
Finally you will yourself out of bed, stabbing around in the dark, looking for your shorts and your left shoe.
You arrive at the gym, 2 minutes late with your shirt on the wrong way.
The warm up feels like a workout – everything is stiff and sore and you hope the people on either side of you can’t hear the groans and creaks as you try to manipulate your body into different positions.
You throw RX weights on the bar because this is what you always do, even though 61kg today feels astronomically heavier.
As the clock starts you feel the usual rush of adrenaline. You allow the music and the energy of the atmosphere to course through you, getting carried away in the process.
When it’s over, you feel thrashed, physically spent, psychologically exhausted. It’s only 7am, and you have the rest of the day ahead of you.
You missed the sweet spot today. You well overdid it.
These two contrasting scenarios illustrate how the sweet spot changes day to day in the context of a physical practice. The sweet spot is the appropriate amount of training stimulus on a given day in order to induce adaptation and not breakdown.
We’ve all had days like the first scenario, where things just seem to click. On these days, your body is primed to handle more and therefore, the sweet spot reflects this. These are days to get after a PR or challenge yourself with an unbroken set of thrusters. However, it’s easy to become attached to this, but this is a recipe for breakdown, overtraining and disappointment.
The second scenario is probably one we can all too commonly recognise. On these days, the stress bucket is almost overflowing even before we’ve touched a barbell. Because of this, we only need a small dose of intensity in order to induce favourable adaptation. The sweet spot on these days could just be showing up and moving through full ranges of motion.
Everyday we are hoping to find this allusive sweet spot, even though, realistically, hitting this bang on and doing so consistently, is rare. But if we think about the sweet spot more so as the sweet zone and training anywhere within that ballpark, we are probably doing enough to ensure continual progress.
Get familiar with the sweet spot this week, keeping in mind that this will change everyday. Some days, getting after it will be it, and on others, getting full depth is. And if you don’t hit it – you go too hard or not hard enough – rest assured that this is part of the process. This is a physical practice after all.