**TRANSPARENCY ALERT: I have done each and every one of the actions I am about to list. I have done entire training cycles of these extra little bits of action and they have stalled my progress, frustrated my coaches, and probably made me an annoying friend.*** Now, with that said, the reason I am sharing these with you is because I want you to save you time, energy, and loss of training partners by encouraging you NOT to do any of this crap I did.
1.) Deviating from the training plan: “Oh man. The weights feel light today. I think I am going to go up WAY beyond what I am suppose to do.” “Hm. I have extra energy..I think im going to throw in some GPP at the end of this training day!” “I have no idea what this exercise is, so I’m going to do something that is not even close to the same, but I like doing.” <—Are you guilty of any of those thought processes? Quit it. One of the most advantageous resources we have today is the abundance of knowledgeable coaches. This stems from anecdotal evidence (where I believe most training theories begin anyway) that are backed with scientific evidence concerning energy systems, recovery efforts, and attention on the long term effects of training. Compounded with the ever-expanding field and awareness of physiology and more education than ever available, the coaches that are currently making it in the industry are typically fairly sound coaches. Many of them offer templates for FREE with just a simple search on the ole interwebs. So..IF you hire them, do yourself a favor and let them handle the road map. There is likely a reason you trust their judgement on a training plan. If the weights feel easy, its probably intentional. If you feel “good” after a training session, resist the urge to ad-lib “finishers” that leave you feeling dead. This often hinders your recovery for future training days, resulting in unpredictable and crappy performance over the long term. Further, it makes your coaches job a LOT harder in terms of logical progression.
2.) Last minute amending of nutrition: I have added meals to my nutrition plan, and I have gotten rid of meals in my nutrition plan. On former, I threw it under the guise of “im eating to fuel my training” and the latter was cleverly disguised as “Im not hungry, and I dont need the extra calories.” Both were bullshit. By following this type of instinctual eating pattern, I
a.) Failed to learn a single thing about how any nutritional strategy impacted me.
b.) Failed to develop any semblance of will-power.
Both are come with long-term detriment. On the former, following nutritional plans (developed by yourself or someone smarter than you) allows you to manipulate variables and see how they impact your overall performance, energy level, etc. This sort of knowledge is VASTLY more important over the lifespan than the risk of having a day of low energy that you may experience while you are figuring this sort of stuff out. With this knowledge, you stand to gain insight that can help guide years worth of nutritional mapping. The latter is equally important, and spills into just about every facet of your life. Learning how to stick to something (anything) is immensely important, as the lessons learned in dedicated behavior are priceless.
3.) Micro-analyzing lifting environemnt/mentality/form: Very rarely does a bad performance need a paragraph of justification. While sleep/schedule/personal life all can present distractions from training, this shouldn’t be the case day in and day out. I have been guilty myself of pointing the finger at everything but myself. The days I spent debating new squat shoes, if my sleep schedule is hindering my performance, or if I should have eaten more food that day (see paragraph 2) rarely resulted in life altering changes. What it does do is distract everyone and (more importantly) yourself from possible glaring issues. Sometimes you are just weak and inexperienced. Being weak is fine, until you are doing nothing to change it. However, getting into the mindset that the conditions being off is reason to succumb to another shit training day can lead to months/weeks/YEARS of stale lifting. The liklihood of having perfect conditions for training is relatively low, and learning to push through is very important. Some of my most memorable PRs came from days I walked into the gym with little motivation, not enough food/sleep, and neutral expectations. Hell, all of my PRs were ugly lifts. Learning to safely correct in instances of being “tipped forward” or “falling backwards” or whatever movement anomaly people are blaming these days will be far more beneficial than learning to find the flaw in your conditions.
4.) Program hopping: The only thing worse than having a terrible plan of action is having a new plan of action each day/weel/month. It took me YEARS to understand this. Building strength is a painfully slow process, ripe with frustrations and moments of doubt. However, without dedication to a plan of some sort, you will never endure the highs and lows that are associated with the endeavor for fitness. There are days that training is the highlight of your day, and there will for sure be days that you cannot wait to put that days training behind you. This is normal. You hopefully choose programs that you trust, so bench your desire to take creative liberties. Spend time giving an approach an honest shot. Worst case scenario, you can assess after the conclusion and look for what was useful and discard what wasnt.
5.) Self Doubt: I have spent too much time in the past doubting my abilities. This extends far beyond my life as an athlete. A few years ago, I was training for a powerlifting meet and I began feeling what was likely going to be a grinder of a rep. As soon as the rep wasn’t butter, I shook my head at my spotter to have him save me from what I would have sworn was going to be a failed lift. Instead of saving my ass, he stepped away, leaving me to complete the lift. I angrily did so, and before I could turn around for an explanation, he said “how many weeks ago did you decide that was gunna be a failure?” Aaaaand he was right. I had spent a lot of time telling myself what my limits were. When it came down to it, that doubt in my own self was robbing me of truly knowing what I was capable of. Though it took a LONG time, I no longer allow any sort of self doubt starting about 12 weeks out from any contest. If I am doing a physique show, I am going to win it. If I am doing a powerlifting meet, I am going to PR everything. Every day is going to go as planned. While this isn’t always the case, you cannot convince me otherwise leading into the meet. Bad training days are isolated incidents and I address that after I have left the gym. The reality is that your thoughts become your actions. If you have low expectations, you will have a low success rate.
Quit wasting your time on things that hinder your performance, your mindset, and your future.