Imagine walking into your gym. You’re feeling sleepy and your body is not warmed up. The weight you are about to lift is a cold body of water. Do you dive in head first? Usually not.
When I work with clients, this imagery is an avenue for us to assess what weight is appropriate. Dipping our toes into icy cold water helps us assess what the temperature is. Maybe it’s not so cold after all or too cold to swim in altogether. Weight, much like temperature, is assessed by our senses. Using our senses is the best way to fully understand how the water (or weight) feels.
When we dip the toe during the first set of any workout, we’re setting a base sensation. This base sensation sets the expectation for what we will feel in our next two sets. We now have a better sense of what the weight feels like and can use our second and third sets to improve on form and rhythm. This acclimation is parallel to the sensation of adjusting to a cold body of water. At first, we dip the toe to set a base sensation and become acclimated to the temperature more smoothly.
“Dipping the toe” helps us to practice better intuition when it comes to selecting the appropriate amount of weight. Many gym-goers frequently choose weight that is too high. This results in excess strain on the body and poor form that can eventually lead to injury. Poor form and injury are not sustainable but the “dip the toe” methodology is sustainable. We can so easily avoid negative experiences at the gym and boost confidence simply by easing into our workouts a bit more and listening to our bodies.