Auto regulation is a principle that allows you to adapt training based on how you feel day to day. If you are already familiar with the term you are probably aware of two types of auto regulation systems.
The first systems monitor state i.e., how you feel on a scale of 1-10, HRV, grip test.
The second type monitors your ability to do volume of work, some examples are RPE and RIR which are mainly used in strength training.
We like to think of auto regulation as a philosophy rather than system.
Movement coach and educator Jon Yuen beautifully described this as:
- People are different.
- People experience their own bodies best.
- The state of our body’s changes.
- Training should be adapted to our state.
There are two main challenges when learning auto regulation this way:
The belief that you have to do the program exactly how it is written. This stops you from exploring and discovering new things, or it sets you up to believe you failed when you didn’t complete it exactly like the spreadsheet said, or if your movement looks different to the person you are trying to emulate.
If perfectionism is your challenge, consider how you could create some play and freedom within your normal program structure.
All The Feels
These people get paralysed by too much attention to sensations. OMG my little toe hurts, I can’t train.
Instead, the aim is to use these sensations as a guide to adapt training to support the body.
We often hear women stopping mid set saying the set got hard, even though long before they actually achieved failure. When this happens, you are confusing discomfort with actual failure or pain.
The experience of pain is a signal from the body to listen and adapt. That may mean changing how you are performing a movement or enquiring as to why you are experiencing pain. (Not all pain is related to injury, instead it may be related to emotion or old trauma, stress, less than ideal movement patterns or fear.)
For women utilising auto regulation in your training will allow you to properly adapt to your life and body demands. This may mean changing how you attack your training based on the phase of your cycle, stress at work, how much you have slept or if you are holding a lot emotionally.
To start using this principle in your training begin with asking these questions while you warm up:
What am I experiencing in my body today?
What does my body need today?
How can I best honour myself today?
Based on your answers you can then choose how you perform your workout.
Do you go hard and really push yourself? Or pull back and just focus on really nice quality movement?
Ultimately when you implement auto regulation you will discover more freedom, and enjoyment while also making greater progress because you are honouring your body and its needs in each moment.
Auto regulation is a foundational principle we teach all of our training clients when they begin working with us. For more information on our in-person and online training options visit our training page.