Five things I got wrong in 2017-2018

The internet is full of people telling you all about the new research or sucking each other off in giant circle jerk comment threads.  Well if I know one thing, it is that in a circle jerk no one is learning anything.  Instead of posting a “motivational picture” about how you need to fail before you succeed I thought I would share with you some failures.  Trust me these are just scratching the surface.  Here are a few hundred words exploring three things I made a monumental cunt out of in 2017-2018.

1 – Needless Complication in my programming

I have been programming for lifers and athletes for about 11 years now professionally and have been programming for myself since 2002.  You would think in around 16 years og lifting and programming for myself and for what must be well over 1000 people individually by now I would have stopped learning or adapting my practice it would appear not even close.

What I have come to realise probably in the past 6-8 months is that a really effective approach strips back all the shite from programming and progression and trys to get at the single variables that are causing progress and allows them to be the focus of the training and the effort of the athlete.  Probably the best talk on this matter I have seen is below

There is no question that certain focuses of periodisation such as block potentiation, accumulation/overreach and peaking work and work repeatably.  But from a system approach to programming the idea of stripping away variation to one variable and allowing time to see how it reacts with time and manipulation for an individual lifter is one of the simplest but best-implemented attempts at individualisation I have seen.

A lot of trainers talk a lot of shit when it comes to individualisation but RTS are putting in a systematised approach which is transparent for anyone to see and use.  I have recently adopted some of these ideas and are already seeing excellent progress from it.  From a personal point of view, it is more confirmation of why it is important to seek facts and evidence that fly in the opposite direction of your current worldview because these are the pieces of information that may be a point of difference or game changer for your approach.  Looking for information that confirms your worldview just makes you more entrenched in your own current processes.  If you always do the same thing you are always going to get the same results.

2 – Hyperextending your back is not setting a tight back

I did a pretty extensive video tutorial on squat, bench and deadlift last year in 2017 and I am already thinking about taking them down because there are 3 or 4 points I disagree on now.  The biggest one was how to set you back.

The video that changed my mind on this was Chris Duffin’s video on setting your back/chest out being a bad cue for squatting.

Over exaggerating the lumbar arch is basically the exact same mechanism as rounding your back in deadlift or squat just in the opposite direction, overextension is just as bad as over flexion.  I will admit I coached this cue incorrectly for far too long but once I changed this small bit of detail in how I coached the squat I have seen great improvements in the lifting of myself and others.

I could go into more detail into why “keeping the rib cage down” or holding your back in it’s natural lumbar curve is a much better way of setting up or looking to set up for the power lifts but you can get the information much better from the video above.

3 – The bar does not need to be against your shins at the start of the deadlift

This one was very recent and I am not sure if it is such a big point of difference but I have seen some very positive signs in my own deadlift and the deadlift of a few other conventional lifters I coach.  One of the trainers who I work with recently went down to Manchester to spend some time with Tom Martin and one of the pointers he got was to aim to have the bar over the top of where your big toe starts.  This is further away from where i have had it in the past but quite some bit but I gave it a try and it felt great.

Admittedly this hasn’t been a wholesale win like the bracing on squat however as some lifters have only gotten stiff and sore backs from having the bar way too far out in front during their deadlift but it certainly is a useful little tip that I have immediately stolen.

Any coach who doesn’t admit to stealing ideas is a lying cunt and you should associate with someone who isn’t a lying cunt in my opinion.  I am an unashamed coaching magpie and it’s one of the reasons I am effective.

“I can’t give you a raise, but I’ll let you sublet your cubicle and we’ll split the rent money.”

4 – I sub-letted way past where I should have

Edinburgh barbell turned 2 this year.  Our first month of existence was July 2016 and during that time we have been in 4 different gyms covering the length and breadth of Edinburgh.  From the end of the first summer in 2016 when we had 40 members and were turning people away I should have moved us into our own space.

Opening a gym has been something I have been looking at since 2013.  In that time I have been with a number of different partners and have been involved in actively looking to set up 4 different gyms or spaces which fell through for various reasons.  This year I finally opened my own space and at the End of October 2018 we received planning permission from the council to operate as a gym.  Edinburgh Barbell and my individual athletes have been training out of the space for about 5 or 6 weeks now and I am so happy we have our own space.

We already need a bigger gym I think but it is a good size for us at the minute as we are in no way overstretched, we have the basics and now we can look to upgrade and get the best small training space in Scotland for performance outcomes.

I should have done this 2 years ago as it would have let me affect change in more people and put us in a more advanced position as a club and business but there is no point wondering about what could have been.  We are on the right track and that is the important thing.  Financially and as a business, we were ready for this move 2 years ago, which is the point I got wrong.

5 – I waited to be pushed before I jumped again

As mentioned in the above part of the article I was involved with a gym project with people who’re values and business model didn’t match up with my own.  I chose to relinquish a current partnership pursue working with people who had different personalities and abilities than I possessed.  The person I was partnered with beforehand was a much better match for me for a personality and ethical standpoint but we both shared some of the same vices as being a bit too laid back which meant the project didn’t progress at the pace it could or should have.

By working with people who were a bit pushier or type A I thought it would be better for me from a position where the project would get pushed forward and actually come into being.  I was right on this front the project did come into being.

There where a whole host of red flags during the process and fundamental points of disagreement with the implementation of the business from the get-go.  Over leverage and overreach being the two main concerns but there was little to no give when it was discussed (or should I say argued about at length).  I should have left pretty early into the partnership because it wasn’t lined up with what I wanted but I dragged my heels because I wanted a training space and this one was coming into being.

Eventually, I got pushed out because I wasn’t pulling my weight, which was fair because I wasn’t.  I had basically stopped believing in the project pretty early into its life cycle and the people I was working with were not my people we differed too much in personality and values.  I should have left but I didn’t I waited to be pushed.

I was glad I was pushed they did me a huge favour and the manner in which they did it only confirmed my apprehensions about their character and acumen.  A lot of people learn this kind of lesson losing millions of dollars I just lost a bit of face which costs nothing.  And no you won’t learn the lesson by reading about it, the pain and lesson can only be learned through making the same mistakes I did in business.


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