Apologies for not writing to this blog for a while I have been somewhat snowed under with other time commitments since pre-season hit in July of 2016. Now the dust is starting to settle from 2016 I see where my future path is lying in terms of business and work so I can begin to start funnelling my efforts a bit more appropriately. At the time of writing I am working with about 120 lifters and athletes either directly controlling their programming and training/coaching in person or consulting pro-bono or helping them train for their sport.
As you can probably guess some of these people just go from strength to strength whilst others stumble from pillar to post and wonder why it isn’t a straight-forward path or road forward.
I do genuinely try my best to help everyone I work with get better, it causes me physical pain and frustration when one of my athletes or lifters doesn’t success or progress from training cycle to training cycle. When you work with so many people especially for prolonged periods of time you begin to develop more of a top down view of training. Similar to trying to navigate a city without the top down view (map) it can be excruciatingly difficult to tell if the path you are following is leading anywhere.
Understand that training is a long-term process.
You need to understand that when it comes to fitness, strength or exercise when it comes to getting better or making progress there is no such thing as an easy lunch. When you make a short and sharp gain in fitness then that means you have done something new or novel to produce that gain. These sudden increases normally carry some baggage a lot of which can be pretty negative if you’re looking to perform in something other than lifting or you are preparing for a meet.
If you are doing a program such as Smolov, for example, you are overreaching for 3-12 weeks depends on the cycle or the length of the cycle you complete. For a lot of people this will represent a huge increase in volume and volume load, and it will probably result in a big increase in 1 RM strength but not forever once you have realised the fitness gain from your adaptation or super compensation, after which you will revert back to the level of your training which is usually not smolov.
On the other hand, if you spend your time looking to progress from week to week using training cycles you can carry out all year long the gains you achieve in strength will be easily repeatable all year round assuming you don’t get injured in the process.
If you are concentrated on increasing your strength incrementally through the year and also concentrating on the many layers to strength training (technique, variation, frequency, application, bar speed etc) then you will find there aren’t really many plateaus.
Injury is the number one detractor of strength and fitness stay healthy
A lot of the injuries that lifters or athletes pick up come from trying to do too much or trying to change up your routine too much. What will be counter-initiative to a lot of lifters and even athletes is that excessive change is a hugely negative thing especially when that change comes in the form of loading. For lifting we can quantify loading very easily using volume load (number of reps x weight lifted) we try to quantify it in sport using metrics like RPE (rate of perceived exertion) x time to create a measure of load AU (arbitrary load) or GPS and heart rate systems to view a more objective or black and white measure.
It is starting to emerge from sports science that any change of 50% either way (under or over) to your normal weekly workload puts you at significant risk of injury. This means doing 50% or under or 150% or over of your average workload this can be applied to pretty much any training as the logic is sound (it has been shown mainly in field sports).
As lifters, we have seen this all of the time, your mate or you read a John Broz article decided that squatting everyday is totally logical and don’t know why you haven’t been doing it this whole time. Then you go from 1x per week squatting to 7x per week and increase your workload by 500-800% and then pick up an injury blaming the concept of being stupid but not appreciating that you went about the whole process cock headed.
Think about what your planning on doing before you do it and see how it stacks up to what you have done before. Don’t just blindly program hop from this to that and wonder why you’re constantly stiff and sore.
Concentrate on what gets results and let the lesser lifters and athletes get distracted.
When it comes to training there is a core of activity that gets you return from your training investment and there is a whole host of activities that waste your time and effort. Smart trainers who keep logs and understand their own performance can tell what is affecting their bottom line. They know the time spent on an activity or exercise and can see the worth or return gained from it. Less savvy training investors diversify their time into a whole host of time sinks that are doing nothing for their bottom line. Out of the following 6 training activities see if you can pick out the elements that every weightlifter who has ever medalled at the summer games had in their program
- Foam Rolling
- Clean and Jerk
- Squat variations
If every person who had ever achieved the goal that I want to aspire for all had common and key elements in their training or approach I would make sure I had it in mine! It is easy to get distracted by big words or cool videos in today’s information overload age but if you knuckle down on the basics you will see the best return from your efforts.
Professionals don’t panic.
The programme isn’t working I haven’t increased my 1RM in the past 6 months! Just take a second to look at what the lay of the land has been for the previous 6 months. It might be that the goal of the training was to improve your technique or to help you overcome an injury. Not all of training is about getting better at training or improving your bottom line. Sometimes you need to go backwards or sideways before the obstacles that are in your way allow you to go forward.
As an example; in 2013 I suffered a bad flare up of Glute Med Tendonitis that left me unable to train squat and deadlift for the best part of 8 months. When I came back to training at the start of 2014 I decided to concentrate on volume and how the exercise was completed. I made little progress really from 2014-2015 a lot of my training was concentrated on getting my training right and trying to work on my technique.
From there I set a good platform from which I could push on from the October of 2015 to October of 2016 I have went from 260-290 in the squat, 200-222 in the bench press and 292-300×2 in deadlift. Huge progress for a lifter who has been training for the best part of a decade and who trains hard and consistently, and my progress shows no signs of slowing or halting as of yet.
There were a lot of bottlenecks in my technique and training patterns that where stopping me from pushing through to the next level. A similar case study Ali probably my strongest lifter was stalled at 320 kg squat (705), 210 kg bench press (465) and 330 kg deadlift (725 lb) since then he has went onto squat 330 kg x 3 (325), bench press 220 kg (485) and deadlift 340 kg x 3 (750lb) all of which has been done by reducing his average training intensity significantly.
The secret is to get lost in the process, focus on the goal and not to panic and change when things aren’t going your way.
The only place for Ego is under the bar.
Lifting is a solo sport which shows you constantly how good or shit you are in an objective and black and white manner, it can really kick your ass if you let it. The way to not have your ego hurt or bruised is to try and not to have one. Every good lifter has an ego or has a high level of confidence it’s an important part of the psychology of being good at something.
The secret is to learn how to make it a positive, when you’re stepping up to an attempt in a meet confidence is life, it is the blood that feed your success, self-doubts and negative self-talk don’t lift weights. When it comes to taking advice from your coach or looking at your own training it is the single biggest pit fall you can imagine.
Ego and over confidence leads to short cuts, it leads to people not doing the correct thing at the correct time because it might mean seeing yourself in something other than a positive light.
The best way to progress or to go forward is to be honest with yourself and try and get as many reality checks as you can on a regular basis. The less you are open to this process the more likely the reality check is going to come along where you want it least on the platform or in competition. It’s better to suffer in training and be within yourself so when it comes to the platform you can just enjoy the moment and be the cocky, arrogant person who lifts the best lifter trophy.