Getting the Most Out of Your Training Program: Part II
posted on September 30, 2019
by Lindsey Pogson
Part 2: Trust the Process
Welcome to part two in this series on getting as much out of your custom training program as you possibly can. If you didn’t read part one (on providing detailed feedback), head on over that way now. Done? Great.
Now that you and your coach are on the same page as far as how the weights are feeling and what work you’re actually doing, you’re ready for the next step. You need to decide to put your trust in that coach and actually follow along with the program as written.
When you started with your coach – whether it’s one of us at UF, another in-person coach, or an online coach – you almost certainly had a chat about what you wanted to achieve with the program. Those goals are the backbone of your program’s design. If you came into your goal-setting meeting with the objective of losing 10lbs over the next two months, your program will reflect that. If you went in with the goal of doing your first powerlifting meet, your program will be designed to prepare you to compete in that sport. If you wanted to run a sub-20 minute 5k, your program will be put together with the intent to get you there.
Seems obvious right? Your coach puts together a program to help you reach your specific goal. So with that in mind, it’s in your best interest to FOLLOW THE PROGRAM.
At the beginning of every program, this is easy. You’re excited, you’re learning some new things, you’re fresh, it feels good. A few weeks in, things start getting a little harder. Suddenly you’re doing a lot of single-leg accessory movements and you’re bad at them so you hate them with a passion. Your coach is programming 3 minutes of rest between sprints and you don’t feel like you really NEED it and think you’d be better off resting less. You asked for a 7 day per week 2-a-day program because you want to do MORE but your coach put you on 4 days per week and you think you’ll just throw in some extra classes here and there because you sleep plenty and recover just fine. Your coach programmed a heavy single at 205 but 225 isn’t THAT far off so that shouldn’t be a problem, right?
I get it. I’ve been there too. That attitude sucks and is not helping you actually reach your goals.
There are a few hard truths we all have to swallow when striving towards big things. The first and hardest is that we don’t know everything.
On some level we understand that, since we decided to go to a professional for help in the first place! But when things come up that we don’t like, we can sometimes start to question that professional.
“No one knows me like I know myself, and I KNOW that I can handle more work than this.”
And you may very well be right! But fortunately/unfortunately, reaching a goal isn’t an exercise in running yourself into the ground. There’s some strategy involved. And often that strategy involves doing things you don’t want to do – be that training more, training less, training movements you hate and are bad at, doing more cardio, doing NO cardio, etc.
You went to a pro, so trust that pro. But know that you can ALWAYS ask questions. And you should! If your coach can’t give you a thoughtful reason for what they programmed, they’re not doing their job.
Hard truth number two: to reach one goal, you need to put all the others on the backburner.
If you go into your goal-setting meeting and tell your coach that your primary objective is to lose 30lbs by the end of the year, expect your program to actually reflect that over everything else. That means strength gains are NOT the priority, and will NOT be the focus of that program. Your coach will likely want to maintain your strength but isn’t going to push you to test for new maxes.
Conversely, if you go in saying you want to hit a 1000lb total by the end of the year, you’d best expect to see verrrrrry little cardio on your programming sheet.
Changes like these can be uncomfortable. It sucks to not be able to “do it all.” But it’s really more accurate to say that you just can’t do it all RIGHT NOW. Take 4 months to prioritize weight loss, then take a break from your deficit and the hard supersets and spend 2 months really working on strength while eating to maintain. If you can do that instead of trying to half-ass everything, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Hard truth number three: you’ll be tempted to go off track. You get to choose what’s more important – instant gratification or actually achieving your long term goals.
I can guarantee one day you’ll be in the gym doing what you’re supposed to do and someone will suggest you throw it all by the wayside and max out that day. Sometimes that will be a training partner or someone else in class, but often it’s that little voice in the back of our head asking “Is this actually working? Am I actually stronger/faster, or am I just spinning my wheels?”
At that moment, you have a choice. You can go for instant gratification – test a new bench rep max, or finish your long slow run as fast as you possibly can. You’ll feel good in that moment, with proof that you CAN do that thing. But consider now that you just did something extremely taxing, that requires recovery. You did it at a point in your training cycle that didn’t ACTUALLY make much sense and may make the other things you need to do that day/week/month a little bit harder. You might have a competition coming up, an event where you really needed to be peaked and ready, but that max attempt threw your schedule off a little.
Were you really doing that for yourself and your goals? Or did your ego need a boost? That’s your call.
Ultimately, it’s your program. They’re your goals to achieve. Your coach is there to put together a guide to help you get there, using all of their knowledge and training. You can choose to trust that guide or continue doing what you’ve always done. Know that it’s a choice, and the choice is yours.