Well, seeing how it's been forever since I last wrote on this thing, I figured I'd start back up with a string of posts inspired by what I've been seeing in my gyms, as well as my "Love The Gym" posts. I'll start with an issue that my fellow coaches and I will probably have to deal with for the next couple thousand years or so: athletes "sticking" to their program.
You see it posted and written up everywhere, if you want true success in the gym, follow a program. This means actually having a program that is written out and has some form of progression to it. And it means actually following that thing for at least a few months to see it through. Speaking from my own gyms perspective, everyone has a program, so that's not really an issue here (but I know it's an issue for some, so, perhaps a post in the near future?). So let's move on to the whole following of said program.
I find three main things occur that really get to me with my athletes:
1) They Don't Come In Regularly.
This is about the most basic idea to being successful in anything, staying committed. If you decide to skip out on sessions, skip a week because you're kind of feeling tired, or it's a little more stressful at work or school; you won't have the gains of someone who comes in for all their sessions. Um, duh! I've heard almost every excuse imaginable, and I'll be honest, I've made some excuses myself for why I can't be committed. But that's just what they are, excuses. Everyone has the time if they actually want the gains. If you show up here and there, skip out on workouts regularly, and are generally uncommitted to sticking with the program, you can't expect to get better all that much.
2) Doing What's Written.
My response for pretty much anyone who asks what they should do when they get to the gym is "what's on the board". Sure, you might not be a fan of snatches, or you might find Turkish Get Ups to be really challenging, or maybe you don't like running and there are 100 meter sprints as part of the program. Suck it up, stop being so damn difficult and get your work in. There is not a thing in this world that comes without some sort of challenging aspect, and fitness sure as hell comes at a price. You MUST work on things you suck at, do things that are really tough, push yourself out of your comfort zone and learn to adapt to many different demands and stresses. If you choose to skip reps, or exercises, go though the motions on movements that you don't like rather than challenge yourself to get better at them, well, you can expect to continue having the same issues you've been having.
3) Doing Stuff On Your Own.
This one is a tough one because there's a fine line between getting in extra work and overdoing things. Also, I have a hard time getting upset at someone who is dedicated enough to fitness to want to do more outside of the gym (usually it's the two issues above). But with the amount of high school and college athletes I get in the gym, it's incredibly common that these guys get together with friends to workout, have workouts with their teams, get pushed my their parents to do more, or just feel like doing more means getting better. Let me set the record straight: more does not always equal better!
Let me share with you an example that has happened far too many times to count with athletes at my gym. We are smack in the middle of an intense adaptation phase of a program (meaning very specific weight and rep schemes to help build muscular and nervous system awareness to specific loads and movements) and a couple kids complain that their shoulders are really tired. "Well, why?", I ask (because I specifically programmed the last three sessions to under utilize the shoulders in prep for this workout). "Oh, we hadn't really done all that much upper body work in the past few sessions so I went and benched with my buddies yesterday".
"Ooook" I say. "What kind of benching did you do?"
"We three rep maxed. Probably did something like 10 sets with the warm up sets". This is usually followed by some defensive statement about how good they felt, how they could totally do the workout today, they just wanted to, well, maybe modify it?
This sort of thing will do nothing but completely piss off your coach. We spend hours and hours writing programs, assessing clients, motivating each and every person in the gym, and dedicating our lives to helping you achieve all your fitness, health, and sport goals (at least that's what coaches should be doing). When you decide to take it upon yourself to do your own thing without first consulting with the person you are paying and trusting to help you get better, well, you're not being very smart.
What I always tell people in this situation is that they came to me to get better. If they feel like they are not getting what they want from the program they have two options:
2) Talk to me about what can be done to assess their issues.
I would say about 99% of the time they then express their concerns, the program is explained, they understand that they should trust in the program, they begin to commit fully to the program, and they get incredible gains and achieve all their goals. Crazy, I know.
The moral of the story here is the more committed you are to following through on something, the greater your chances of success are. Nothing new her. Something I'm pretty sure every single person who can read this would agree on. But, it's hard to do, especially when it comes to the gym. But, if you truly want to get better, the concept is the easiest and simplest possible: Find a place that you like, and commit fully to their program. Stick to it. That is all.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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