Exercise Advice - For Those That Are In Need Of Help


Don't get blinded, choked, strangled or constricted by numbers and times on a piece of paper or screen, they don't matter, in the slightest, they're irrelevant.

They don't take into account real life.

It's as simple as this...

Is my body realistically showing and telling me I should slow down, that I should rest and I'm done, or am I just putting up barriers?

Only you can truly look in the mirror and know the real answer to that question, but, the progression being sought out, lies within that initial inquiry.

Exertion, exercise and movement for performance and progression should be mentally and physiologically taxing, it should be draining, testing, hard, but it shouldn't be painful.

Perform to your logical, current ability and listen to your body.

If it feels like you genuinely can't go anymore, don't.

Rest, recover, regenerate, then get back at it.

It doesn't matter if you are starting and stopping because as long as you perform it with maximum logical effort, under intelligent exertive stimulus, while you feel safe, and in control, then you get the benefit.

You progress, with the bonus prize of sustainable longevity.

If you have 30 seconds of an exercise to master for example and you are struggling, don't.

Once you go past a certain point, past the point where the body and mind are telling you they are genuinely done, then you are just entering into a cycle of dysfunction, compensation, pain, imbalance and injury, unless it is genuinely a barrier you are placing upon yourself.

Just do 15 seconds of the exercise, 10 seconds of it,  properly, under full contraction, in control, breathing.

Split it up if you need to, 10 seconds, rest, 10 seconds, rest, 10 seconds, rest, with the aim of next time, or the time after that, doing 15 and 15, with the aim of building up to that full 30 seconds.

Maybe even forget that exercise all together, go back to the drawing board and speak to a professional who can prescribe a personal, unique, specific, individual movement that will help you transition safely into the one you are struggling with, while still offering the physiological benefits you were looking for.

The aim is to do things properly, safely, to ensure the exercise transfers to everyday life and provides functionality in movement, mobility, mental health and performance.

The aim is to be able to see the true, small progressive elements you are developing.

It's not about keeping on going and going.

The feeling, you feel, as a unique, personal, specific individual is what matters.

We live in this day where everybody is telling us to keep going, that we are capable of more, made of more, true although it may be, I feel the rationale has become a little more than illogically distorted.

Never forget, that when you find an exercise truly hard, and taxing, gaining an extra 5 seconds on it might as well be an extra 5 minutes.

People tend to be too harsh on themselves when the success is really, right there in front of them.

Numbers, reps, sets, weight and times mean absolutely nothing unless you are a competitive athlete, or they are a required necessity for your everyday functionality.


It's risk vs reward.

Yes you may be on the 18th mile of a marathon, feeling like you are about to shut down, but the guy telling you to suck it up, to channel the mind, and soldier through the pain, isn't looking out for you, at all.

Again on paper or as a mere attempt at galvanising, it may work, but in reality it's so flawed it's unreal.

The channels for negativity from living life that way, out weigh the positive entities, every single time.

What good is finishing that marathon, if you are never able to run again for example, or if you create problems that affect the whole chain of command and it's hierarchy of movement.

Was that finishers medal worth it if you've destroyed your body, or almost died in the process. (You would be extremely surprised about some of the conditions people finish races under)

Now if somebody is holding your family hostage, and if you don't finish they get killed, then on that 18th mile, block it out and run your knees and ankles into the ground, but, if that's not the case, just do what is the current maximum, for you.

For you and where you are, right now, right this second.

Don't just smash yourself in the pursuit of betterment or results.

Don't just push through the times when you are genuinely gone because it's the supposed training "norm."  

True, physiological exercise is tough enough when done in alignment with the correct stimulus, it's not something that needs to be overdone.

Taking your body to the point of it telling you to realistically and honestly rest and regenerate is a nervous system response...don't ever lose sight of that.

A nervous system response that needs to be listened too, one that is sent to us, to tell us to listen.

Taking the marathon example into consideration again...

Getting to the 18th mile, hitting fatigue and carrying on another 100m is bad enough, let alone another 8 miles.

It isn't a case of quitting, it's a case of realising that you weren't ready to do a marathon in the first place, and you bit off much more than you could chew.

No shame in that, it happens to us all at some point.

When we hit true failure, or fatigue, it's not a gym or fitness expression, it's not a momentary stoppage to a party, it's your body saying... "Look I need to protect these joints, these ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles and organs etc, so I'm sending you this message, if you don't listen, I'm going to force you to stop before something negative happens."

Then it stops working, for safety, which is why recovery or full rest is then required.


What I'm saying is not the general projection from many of these super sexy fitness icons, but it's the truth, it's the way to truly boost your output and take your performance to places you never knew you could get to.

I'm not saying don't "Go hard," don't, push it, don't leave everything out there on the floor.

I'm saying learn how to identify what your body is saying you need, and become accustomed to it.

People are too scared to rest nowadays, too scared to be seen as taking it down a notch, but they forget that unless you are on performance enhancing compounds, then less is more, in the right manner.

I see it very much like cooking a piece of chicken...

Slap the breast in a pan under too much heat and the meat will cook too fast.

The outside will create the illusion of "Done,"  while the inside is still raw.

From there, the outside starts to crisp and burn, as the inside dries out in the middle.

Not something you would pay for in a restaurant.

Get your temperature right.

Do it...just don't don't over do it.

For example...

If you have 10 reps written down on your piece of paper, and you are supposed to be using a certain weight, but you are completely gone at 8 reps...who cares...again...it's about you...not a constraint.

You want to feel and be free and in control when you train, when you move.

Just rest pause it out slightly at the 8 reps...10-15 seconds and try for the last 2...maybe you get to 10, maybe you don't, but it doesn't matter either way, because you walk away from that set knowing that you couldn't have safely or intelligently given it any more.

Depending on how you personally feel, the 8 on that day, might even be where you say goodnight, to rest before the next set...the pause might not be needed...who knows?

This is on you!

Lets say you hit fatigue on the same exercise, the set after, but this time at 6 reps, because the workout is really getting to you, don't feel down, feel alive, you are getting somewhere.

Apply the same methodology as above, maybe you get an extra 2, maybe you get an extra 4, maybe you don't get any, or instead of using the rest pause, you may even drop the weight down lighter and finish off those last four that way, same result.

If you end up dropping the weight down slightly and only get another true one, or two, doesn't matter, say goodnight, you don't need to go anymore, you've done what you intended to do, again, you've done your job.

By the third and final set of that exercise, if at this point you logically feel you are not going to be able to perform even six reps, then just drop the weight down all together and amalgamate the same ethos as above.

The body doesn't understand or care about your workout, it responds to a stimulus that requires adaptation.

It cares about feeling.

There's good adaptation...and there's bad.

Don't forget that you are never the same person, at the same time, on any day, the world keeps spinning, it keeps changing.

You may have got 10 reps out last week, with a certain weight, but have you had the same amount of sleep, the same amount of water, food, nutrients this time around?

Did you have a bust up with the other half last night, is work more stressful than last week, are you resting enough, are you over training, is one of the kids ill?

There are far more outlets for a person to decrease in perceived performance, than gain, which is why the key is seeing that, if it takes you for everything you have, safely, with no pain or complications, no matter how hard it felt, no matter if it's a regression, then on that occasion you won.

Not the paper, not the screen, not the exercise, the reps, the time, the rest periods, you.

Analyse the tangible variables.

You may have been able to sprint 100m in a certain amount of time a month ago, but then your wife wasn't about to give birth, or you hadn't just been made redundant, had to fork out for house or car repair bills etc etc, all the things that life can throw at us.

We perform how our minds subconsciously perceive the life around we live throughout our day to day journeys.

The neuromusclar connection.

You are...what you are...and it is...what it is.

When you turn up to perform, as long as you aren't backing out of a challenge, whatever your body shows you is your limit that day, is your limit, regardless of what you've done before, or what you are supposed to do.

The only way we are ever able to push through, and past, is when we are prepared to identify and admit that.

If a weight feels like 100kg, it might as well be, because your body and mind have no care for numbers, they couldn't care less if it was 1000kg.

All they know is that in that moment, it's heavy, it's taxing, it's some form of catalyst or stimulus that requires resiliency and adaptation.


That's the secret to training.

Once you take an exercise to the point you can't breathe from the diaphragm, or stay in alignment, no matter how fit you are, you are just creating byproducts of functional movement and compensation patterns.

A recipe that leads to pain and dysfunction at some point, for sure.

Once you create a certain level of effort and exertion, you don't need to keep pushing, you just need to safely stay in or around those zones.

This should not be easy, and it should be a real test.

As long as you are giving it your all and listening to your true self, you will get the results.

Don't stick to a script, stick to what signals your body is giving you.

Last example - If you are on a bike, you can't breathe, you are flexing your neck and rotating your spine to try and push through, then stop, the pushing on through is going to sell you you're own poison in the end.

Drop the level, the resistance, rest it, recover, regenerate, breathe, calm the nervous system, whatever, then get back at it if you can, but if you genuinely can't, then you already know what I'm going to say...you did your job.

Keep doing that, keep turning up, time after time and there is no way you will not see advancement.

I wish it was as simple as handing out an exercise plan to everybody so they can follow.

Be smart, because I promise you, 99% who will ever give you advice on this area will have you barking up the complete wrong tree.

Disturb the paradigm.

What A Day To Be Alive.

Lee Cleaver

Soft Tissue Specialist - Movement Analyst - Performance Coach