It’s a common belief that in athletic performance, strength is the most important bio-motor ability. It’s benefits are multi-faceted, and you can read about most anywhere. To name a few benefits, improving strength has been shown to reduce injuries, help with weight loss, increase bone density, improve psychological well –being, and energy, as well as improve sleep. We focus on strength for all the usual reasons, but importantly, we focus on strength because strength is king. Let me clarify, in most strength sports, relative strength is king.
If there is one thing I find harder to teach someone over anything else, it’s how to train with intent. It is beyond frustrating watching people go through movements like zombies and or with smiles on their faces. I’m not against enjoying yourself or zoning out from the stressors of life, but as soon as it’s time to approach the bar, it’s game on. You need to be determined to act in a certain way. There needs to be some resolve and importance in your actions and thoughts. Your attitude and mind must be one of deliberateness, and a desire to own the weight. There needs to be tenacity and directed aggression. You need to do it like it actually means something to you to do it right. In other words, you need to do it with intent. If you aren’t going to do it with intent, I don’t really see the point in doing it at all.
The coach/trainer vs athlete/client relationship can be a tricky one. A lot of trust, belief and openness is required. This relationship often gets strained because both parties have failed to stay honest, give each other what is deserved, keep the relationship professional, and treat each other with respect. This seems to me to be a matter of honesty and being true to ones needs and wants. The following are some thoughts on how athletes/clients can approach this so coaches take them seriously. And, well, if you’re a coach/trainer and you don’t take it seriously, I have no other advice than, find a new profession.
I think sometimes people get confused as to why they are actually training. Don’t look at the other freaks around you, what they’re doing, or their goals. Why are you training? You are most likely training for longevity and fun, not performance and status. I think people lose sight of this. Maybe this is why they walk around with aches and pains that they do nothing about, eat the way they do, and why they train themselves to injury and/or exhaustion. Maybe, like a good friend of mine said recently, people take poor care of themselves because they give away their power to experts too easily, and as such are crap at parenting themselves. They expect someone else to parent them and make it easy for them. We are all well aware nothing worth working for is easy. Experts are there to provide the tools you need to get where you want and teach you how to use them. What you do with that knowledge is your choice. It’s of no consequence to anyone else what you do to or with yourself. Your choice, your actions, your consquences.
Few people enter a sport with thoughts of competing in it or coaching it, it’s for fun, health, or other reasons. The competitiveness or coaching aspects come as a natural expression of their involvement and the passion they feel for it. When you begin to feel like expressing yourself more through your sport, it’s worth asking yourself what you want to achieve. Do you want to be a great champion, or a great coach? Obviously the approach needed is entirely different.
I hear a coaches, athletes, and recreational exercisers a like arguing about which is best, the strict overhead press, or the push press. Typically the pro push pressers will argue that the strict overhead press can prevent you from appropriately overload the pressing movement, and is better in terms of developing power. Where as the strict press camp will argue that it’ll provide more shoulder and triceps strength, and teach you how to grind weight from the sticky bottom position through to lock out. Both are right. Something to remember is that it’s hard to describe a person as strong; they are just strong in particular movements. Remember strength is a skill. This isn’t an argument about which movement is better, it’s an argument that is really about who to use each exercise with, as well as the when and why.
Peoples quest to find out what they should be eating, or how to improve the efficacy of their training is tireless. We spend a lot of time seriously over complicating things, and in doing so, there is a tireless search for short snippets of research, or quick conclusive titles even, that people can read to confirm what they “think” is right, so they can keep doing what they’re doing. If only they knew how utterly useless much of the research reported actually is. In my position, it’s important to have some science and reputable proof to back up your knowledge and allow more in-depth discussion and explanation to those that want it. We are natural scientists. Sadly though, a lot of us are too (mainstream) scientific dominant, stuck in our need for reputable proof rather than experimenting and creating their own. The purpose of this post is to try to encourage you to be your own scientist. Question the validity and reliability of the research you read. And try to conduct your own experiments to live an evidence-based lifestyle.
Mobility, stability, then strength. Break the order, break your client. One of the mantras of CrossFit, and most good S&C coaches or trainers. Yet seldom followed through. Let’s be honest, this is where CrossFit gets a bad rap. People going to hard, too soon, with movements and loads that are far beyond their capabilities. Obviously not all do this. People will respect you for taking the time to develop them properly. People will thank you for looking after them, and if they do leave because they felt bored or like they weren’t challenged, great, one more space for someone who actually cares about doing things well, training safely, and reaping the rewards.
This is one of those “I wish I had 5c for every time I” moments. It seems when it comes to desires/goals surrounding health, fitness, and well-being, that people are notoriously bad at getting what they want. The number of times I’ve had clients and or health enthusiasts desperately and compellingly tell me how badly they wanted to get fit, lose weight, eat better, sleep better, stop drinking so much, stop having so much sugar, stretch more, get stronger, get bigger, get better in any way shape or form, is countless. The sad thing is, I’ve witnessed most of their attempts and goals fail.
There has been a fair bit of debate going on lately about what training is and what exercise is and who is doing what. Not surprisingly, most of it is splitting hairs, and is just a way for those who feel the need to be separated from others because they are special, and they “train” they don’t just waste their time in the gym.