It takes time to learn to work with your coach. Don’t get upset after just a few months, or even a year, when things maybe aren’t moving along the way you think they should. Much of the responsibility falls on you as the lifter. Not only is it your job to execute the program, but you must take responsibility for communicating with your coach as well. They more information you can give, about your sessions, your health and recovery and other activities, the better they can program for you.
Recently my coach has made some adjustments to my programming that have been highly beneficial for me. We adjusted my days so that I have 3 heavy and 2 pretty light days. But this would have not happened had I not been open and honest with her about how I was responding to my sessions. Another big part of this is due to good journaling on my part so that I can look back and know what I have responded well to in the past and relay that back to her. It’s a process. At the end of the day, the process is the true goal.
Squats. Singles at 90%.
When I first started working with my current coach, I really didn’t care for squatting days much because I was so bad at it (although I didn’t realize it at the time), and I would try and hurry through them by doing as little warm up sets as possible. Now I actually have really come to enjoy these squatting days and doing all of the warm up sets. I wish I would have done that sooner, spent extra time with the lighter weights and focusing on getting quality reps in. Strength is a skill, and like any skill, it takes time to develop it, often years. Everyone enjoys those newbie gains where PR's occur almost every time you touch the bar. It is after that where the dedicated practice comes in, the process.
A coach can program for weaknesses but you have to be willing work on the weakness yourself by doing the extra work, spending the extra time to do work at the light weights accumulating quality reps before you tackle the heavier weights.
Does your coach actually care about improving your weak areas? Do they make sure that you understand the program that they wrote for you? Did they even write you a program? And if all of these things are a yes, what about the effort that you are putting in. A friend just passed along this quote:
"You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your preparation." James Clear
I'd like to squat 100kg. I won't get there by seeing how fast I can throw weight on the bar. I will get there by preparing my body with proper movement patterns and developing strength in the proper positions. It is through the work of aligning these pieces that I will develop the overall strength to move the weight. But it will take time. It will be a process. And the process of learning to be stronger is my actual goal.
Yesterday was an exercise in frustration. I was not moving as well as I had been, or wanted to be, lacking good leg drive and aggression with the lifts. I could blame it on any number of things, a bad night of sleep, pain in my left leg creeping back in, dealing with some personal issues, being distracted by my phone, not eating anything before I trained, a cold coming on. Or whatever.
But of those, how many are under my control? Pretty much all of them. Lesson learned. It’s my responsibility to stay on top of things that I can have a direct impact on before they have an impact on me.
How much are you will to let other things be the driving factor for your performance? How much control are you willing to give to them? And how many excuses do you need to feel better about why you had a bad session?
Take a bad night of sleep for an easy example. Why did you really have a bad night? Sure, random stuff happens that can interfere with your sleep. Maybe the neighbor’s car alarm goes off at 2am waking from your peaceful slumber. I’m not talking about random occurrences such as that. I’m referring to things you can control, such as what time you went to bed or your sleep routine before going to bed. Do you repeated stay up too late watching TV? Let’s be real here, how many of us actually watch something that isn’t recorded and could just be finished later?
And what about minor aches and pains and injuries for another example. How much of that really is in your control? A lot to be quite honest. And this is one that I am certainly guilty of. I my previous tendency was to wait and "see if it gets better". Well sometimes this works but more often than not, it usually got worse. And it got worse because I didn't address the root issue of why I was having the issue or the cause of the injury and then once it happened, I didn't take the appropriate steps to take care of it. Now that I have had to deal with the result of my stubbornness and the delays in progress that resulted from it, I now am more proactive about getting on top of those small issues immediately, before they become large performance affecting ones.
Don’t get me wrong, even if we did everything perfect, it is not going to guarantee that every time we walk in the gym, training session will be perfect too. We are human after all and we are affected by the things around us. Even our training sessions create stimulus our bodies have to adapt to (and sleep is key to recovering from said training sessions those). What I am talking about are those things that you can take control over. In order to have a good training session, or workout, or however you want to refer to it, it is your job to set yourself up for it, and that means making sure all of your bases are covered.
Stop tossing out reasons as if they are just random things that happened beyond your control. If you are serious about your performance, and your results, take a serious look at what you are doing outside of the gym to contribute, or detract, to it.
Why do I coach? To be honest, this isn’t really something I ever gave serious thought to, about why I should. For me, it is more of a compulsion. I feel compelled to help people, to teach people. And I absolutely enjoy it. I enjoy it because it gives me pleasure seeing people improve, at seeing someone’s face light up when they figure out how to do something for the first time, when they get that feeling of moving “right”. I came to athletic things later in life. I did not do school sports and was often that last kid picked for things on the playground. I didn’t even like gym class and barely managed to pass with a D. Iit wasn’t until later in life that I began to discover an appreciation for learning what I could physically. It started with yoga and the precision and strength that it took to move into and hold the various positions. I enjoyed the challenge and sense of accomplishment. Most of all I enjoyed engaging my body.
Let’s jump ahead to learning to lift and then participating in crossfit. Yea, I was mobile as heck after years of yoga, and I certainly didn’t consider myself athletic, but now I was doing athletic things! Ok, back up a bit, before starting to lift, I had a good run at regular globo gyms doing “bodybuilding” type stuff and getting swole. Again, I got pretty strong, but was not what you would consider athletic. Back again to learning lift and participating in crossfit, doing these things made me actually feel athletic, for probably the first time ever. No, I did not have some hidden unfound talent just waiting. I had to learn to do the movements, and more often than not, really struggled with getting the hang of them. And even then, the struggle bus frequently took me for a ride.
What does this have to do with why I coach? I coach because I was not a “natural” at any of it. I had to learn piece by piece, and work hard to do the fitness things, to make the lifts and do the movements. It took practice, and time, more practice, and a lot of patience. Patience with my myself and the process. And the more I do, the more I realize that the process is the real goal, not the “goal” itself. Coaching itself, is about the process, the building of relationships, of learning how the person works, not about the lift or movement that I am teaching.
I am not out to find that special athlete that will create the wave that might propel me to national fame. I am looking for that spark that lies in all of us to find the athletic potential that is there. I believe we all have it, we just have to find how to express it. For me, it has been through weightlifting, and yes, yes, in crossfit as well. A good coach finds great athletes, a great coach finds the athlete in everyone and makes them better. So maybe it is you who never did sports and got D’s in gym class. Or maybe your kid doesn’t fit well with team the team sport atmosphere. Maybe you just haven’t found that thing that ignites your athletic spark. I coach because I believe every person has the right to discover the joy learning to move and see what their body can do.
As I enter my 5th year of weightlifting and am continuing to expand my coaching, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my thoughts about my journey into this sport. I taught myself to lift, well I tried to anyway, have done close to 40 competitions as a masters lifter (meaning over 35), including those at the national and international level, and coach adults and youth. Oh, and I have also worked my way through a couple of minor injuries. At least I would consider them minor because they didn't bring my activities to a halt.
As I am training, competing, coaching and trying to fit it all together with life, I am struck from time to time by thoughts and musings of bits and pieces of all of it. I think some of them are pretty good lol, so I want to share them and perhaps you can find a bit of something helpful for you. If not, well, that's ok too. Take what you can use and leave the rest.