Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Using Your Emotions As A Gauge For Training

You'll notice that in both the S&C and Strength programs we rarely prescribe weights. We might go as far as a percentage of your max in the Strength program, but that will be only for part of the day. The rest is left up to you to judge how you feel.

We do this because we want to teach you how to listen to your body and how you're feeling. Every time someone asks me 'how heavy should I go for 5?" I respond with "how are you feeling today; how heavy did you go last time and how did that feel?" I don't know if you feel emotionally beat up from your work day, or if you are feeling great because you just solved that tough problem or got that big client.

A couple of weeks ago Dan from DeepFit stopped by to look for a place to lift weights, and while we were talking he told me about his Boulder-based startup where they're working on measuring your emotional response to your training. It looks like they're trying to put some metrics around my generic "well, how do you feel?" question.

Below is a guest post from Dan giving an intro to what they do. (As an added bonus, Amy's a brain doctor and she didn't give her usual "they don't know what they're talking about" rant when she read this post - so that's a good sign!)

When we talk about mindful training at DeepFit we’re not necessarily talking about mixing in a couple yoga sessions each week. We’re talking about paying attention to your daily emotional state as a gauge for whatever training program you’re on — traditional strength and conditioning, distance running, obstacle course racing, or anything else.

Mindfulness is the best word we have for paying attention to the inner game (especially emotions), but it’s also a buzzword, so we have to be careful in how we define it and use it.

With our test athletes, we’ve taken the analytical approach. We ask athletes to report every day on their emotional states and their perceptions of both recovery and training. This data goes into an algorithm that produces a visual “mirror” of the inner game. Is today an uphill battle against stress, or is it smooth sailing?

Emotional states correlate closely with physiological factors like cortisol levels and muscle glycogen depletion. Since you don’t need any medical devices to measure emotions, this built-in indicator turns out to be a pretty good option for most athletes.

The key is tracking it, though. As human beings, we’re notoriously bad about over- and underestimating the importance of our feelings. In an attempt to work through emotions our culture deems negative, we launch crazy exercise routines or eating binges. When things seem to be going well (dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin flowing), we quickly build an identity around that status, sometimes with disastrous psychological effects a few months or years later.

Through DeepFit’s data-driven approach, we’re helping define new zones in the topography of the athletic inner game. It’s not the binary, 2-dimensional view it used to be — stress vs. vigor. We believe sports psychology is going to become a lot more nuanced and individualized, and we’re betting that the emotions gauge will sit near the top of the performance list, along with a couple of the most important biomarkers and heart rate variability measures.


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


squat 5-3-3-3x3


2 pull-ups + 2 dips between strength sets

Group Workout

20 rounds for sense of urgency:
start by the kettlebells
carry a HEAVY bell to the end of the gym
5 swings
carry it back
6 back squats (3L, 3R)


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