Establish a great mentality, an intelligent training age, avoid the setbacks and be the best athlete you can be. Listen to your coach and LISTEN to your coach! Watch how more experienced athletes train, why would you be special and not have to do the same?
Experience is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately it is usually acquired in hindsight. When you have completed your desired task, with whatever method you chose, then you know if it worked or not. Sometimes you discover that the method was awesome, sometimes you discover you dived in too deep, and most of the time you’ll think that you could have done something better. The more mistakes you make, the better you will be in some respects, but when those mistakes start to cost you your health and mobility, then you HAVE to take a more sensible approach.
For my own sanity, recently I decided to put people’s ignorance and stupidity towards training down to their “training age” which basically means experience with training in any field.
I used to go crazy that someone that has only been training for six months won’t address their shoulder or hip mobility every day if that’s what they need to do to progress. Even though I tell again and again that it’s gonna end up backfiring one day and they ignore the advice! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN!?!? (As I shake the athlete) but truthfully they don’t care, unless you have been grabbed at a very early age and shown how to move properly, you just will not see the significance of it.
DON’T LET PAIN BECOME YOUR TEACHER
The part that upsets me is that ultimately pain will become the teacher, that silly couple of centimetres that you are lacking in your hamstring flexibility will cause your lower back to compensate for the extra range and it will just say “screw you buddy”. This could take up to 2-4 years to happen, but it WILL happen then all your awesome PR’s will turn into fear of even bending over to put your socks on.
“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.” James Joyce
TRAINING AGE: WORKING FOR THE FUTURE
A wise old dude once said to me “train now like you are in your 30’s and when you hit your 30’s train like you’re in your 40’s so that YOU CAN STILL TRAIN WHEN YOU ACTUALLY GET THERE” this wise old dude isn’t actually that old but he is the best back specialist I have ever met. The work he does is not short of miracles.
Competitive fitness is great but you do have to place yourself on the risk and reward line and be honest with yourself if you really need to put more work in than you are. Professional athletes do a lot more than just tick the box of “gym” four times a week.
“If you’re not competing and want to use your training to make you stronger, more confident and become able to do a few cool things then sticking to a progressive loading program with a good focus on YOUR individual mobility (more on this another time) and technique is the best for you.”
If you start off like that then the chances are that if you are consistent then you will actually build a good base so that you can compete AND compete safely.
LISTEN TO YOUR COACH
Your training age and training maturity will take time to develop but if you really do want to accelerate the process just listen to what your coach says. My athletes that perform at the highest level are the ones that say “yes coach”. The ones that get stuck, or never seem to master a technique that they really want, never seem to do as they’re advised. Personally I have gotten to a point (and this is for other coaches too) where I feel that if you have told an athlete multiple times to strip something back or just work on their technique and they don’t listen then they are the bad athlete, there is nothing wrong with your coaching.
If this takes place in a class, then you are not going to waste ten minutes of your time with one person that just wants to get numbers when there are ten other people that could be getting valuable technique cues. If you pay for private coaching then you do exactly what I say and how I say it and if not then you can go elsewhere, I do not waste my time or anyone else’s.
TRAINING AGE AND MATURITY
You’ll not hurt yourself with missing triple extension on your Olympic lifts but your numbers will reflect your sloppy technique. Coaching to me becomes really special when someone does finally break that barrier and say “you know what, I need to go back to the start and relearn everything” and that’s when you hit training maturity.
GETTING BACK TO THE BASICS
Again I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, some people are set in their ways and the thought of being a “beginner” can really decrease your manhood by a few inches, but if you grow some balls and take things seriously you’ll make long term gains that will win any measuring contest.
The most attentive and best athletes I know just want to learn ALL of the time but they are also the athletes that have been through injuries and setbacks and lost motivation more times than you would ever imagine. They have a training age that allows them to progress in a solid and intelligent fashion.
- My plea to new and upcoming athletes is to actually try and take heed of what you are being told to do and get really invested in your development right from the beginning.
- Don’t spend a few years building bad habits before you really start to care.
- Abs and performance are a consequence of good training, knowledge and balance, not from trying solely to get abs and improve performance without learning.
If even one person reads this and decides to just go in and start listening to every piece of advice they are given I’ll be happy, coaches everywhere give the gift of knowledge and experience and in my opinion we as athletes and coaches should take those gifts and give them the attention they deserve.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence” – Vince Lombardi.
Everyone deserves a feeling out stage to get the hang of things, but when you’re ready for something more, dive all in face first and take it seriously. Why should you do anything less? Think about training age and an early mindset with focus and trust will set you apart from everyone else in your crucial first years of training.