As a coach I quite often get asked the following, “How do you do that?” “What do you do to be able to do that?” “Why do you make that look easy?”
I’ll make one thing clear here, none of this was or is easy.....there’s one question answered already.
I love to coach, and part of my ongoing journey as a coach has been to grasp that not everyone is going to crush themselves into an oblivion to get where they want be, and that’s cool, so please, take a relative approach to what needs to be done.
Starting from the beginning. Whatever your own health and fitness goals are, its probably going to get tough along the way. In my opinion, the upmost important thing to establish is getting those rest days planned, give the mind and body something to look forward to through the week of training. Those days or weeks that seem to be constantly spitting you out sideways are the times you can pull optimism from what lies ahead. Now I’m not talking about this “active recovery” stuff here (that’s a whole different blog yet to come), I’m talking about a proper day off, put your feet up, eat some cheeky food, yes! that might be a pizza, if it’s in moderation, or it might be to visit family and friends, perhaps go explore somewhere you’ve never been before.
If you’re wondering what I do on my days off, look below. But these are the sort of comfort days that should be planned in from day one, regardless of how challenging your goal ahead may be, these days are needed to reset and prepare mentally for another chance to push for your goals over the next few days. By not taking rest days you’re going to start going through the motions and that won’t get you anywhere.
Short, medium and long term goals....... plan them out. Short is anything from 4-8 weeks away. Medium, look towards 3-6 months away. Long term is looking towards 1-2 years away. You could and probably should put a potential lifetime goal in there too. An example of that is what we do in the gym every...single...day, getting fit for life, the sort of training that allows you to “keep up with your kids when they start to speed up, and you don’t want to be slowing down” or “I want to be as able bodied as I can be at 60 so that I can continue to enjoy doing the things I want to do in 20 years time” let that sink in for abit.
So in terms of meeting long and lifetime goals, turn upto class, it’s what we do.
Another example of a long term goal maybe to improve your mobility, take a look, nothing fancy.....there’s me taking a class through hip stretches back in 2016, we’re still doing it to this day, are you.....?
Quite stubbornly you maybe thinking yeah I’ve got time for that stuff later. ‘What do I do if I want to get bar muscle ups?’ or ‘I’d love to compete in Rocket level at the Rainhill Trials’ Okay cool. Everyone has their individual goals, remember.... I’d like you to apply this to your personal goals, showing you how this can be applied the same, no matter what the goal is, from one extreme to another.
If your personal goals lie within the boundaries of competition or an event, or perhaps the ability to run a sub 30min 5km or walk the three peaks, set a date within that realistic time frame and get it booked in, get it written in the diary, the chances are that if it’s not it won’t happen, pretty simple really. Magically you’re now already holding yourself accountable to achieving that goal.
Sorry to say but, this is now where the work starts. If you’re thinking, wow I have to apply all that from what I’ve just talked about to get this stage now......Yes, those are the foundations laid to give you the best chance at staying on track throughout your journey.
So let us begin.
If a medium term goal is to have a set of 5 T2B, 5 months from now, and the last T2B workout we did was -
50 KB swing
40 KB swing
30 KB swing
20 KB swing
10 KB swing
I bet it did, nothing wrong with that at all, it’s all part of the process..... but probably at some point those T2B (or progression of) started to drop off a little bit and they didn’t finish the way you were hoping them to. Maybe the plan was to hold sets of 3 or 5 but you finished jumping up and swinging round for dear life with some flicky, knee/leg raise pendulum thingy. Tough and frustrating I know. I can assure you that that workout didn’t go to plan for me either, but what it wasn’t anything to do with... was anything to do with how your hand wraps weren’t stitched the correct way for T2B and they started slipping a little bit, or the chalk wasn’t the correct consistency for the temperature of the bar that day. Yes it could have been the brutally elegant combination of 150 KB swings with those T2B that started to fatigue shoulders and midline even more.....that’s why it’s a workout, right?
Now I appreciate times are different these days without a coach on the gym floor (fingers crossed only until 16th December) and doesn’t come across as obvious on how to tackle these parts as it may do to others. But when there is a coach taking you through a similar workout in the future you may hear someone mutter or you maybe even think it yourself, “why are we wasting reps here” heard it before? I don’t see it as wasting reps, I see it as an opportunity for you to get better at T2B before the intensity and brutality of the workout crushes you where you can’t grip the bar any longer. Perhaps look at it as a chance to have got 25 hard progressions in before it all went sideways, those reps before are for free, there yours to bank into your ever evolving wheel house. There’s nothing wrong with coming up to the coach just before the workout:
“Coach those drills have fried me, I’m not going to be able to do the workout as I planned”
“Awesome, ok. So let’s try do the first 3-5 reps of each set as your last progression from the specifics then scale to this.....”
Remember you’ll have banked yourself a good 15-25 solid reps (or progressions of) before it started to feel like your arms were going to drop off and those 3-5 at the start of each set will eventually turn into 5-10, then 10-15. When coach is asking to see another 3-5 reps before the workout starts, remember your goals.
So yes we’re still talking about what goes on within those medium term goals here. Those that I have the privilege of coaching, I’m with you every step of the way. In my opinion medium goals are the hardest goals, they’re close enough to get stuck into but far enough away to drift away from, as I outlined earlier, these are what your rest days are for. You’ve got this people.
What do you want to achieve 4-8 weeks from now? An example being “I’d like to be able to hit five training days a week, 2 months from now.”
My first question would be: How many days are you consistently in for per week?
Being consistent is the key here.
As an example, What if you answer is 2?
Okay so we’ve sorted that out, you need to increase your frequency of training from 2 to 5 days consistently. I’ll be realistic here, there’s going to be a lot of life that’s going to get in the way within 4-8 weeks, there’s going to be moments you think, “nah I could probably skip that WOD”, “hmmm, well running isn’t really anything to do with my short term goals, so I’ll miss that one.”
I’ll be the one then to remind you of my suggested and pretty important lifetime goals. I ain’t saying an 80 year old needs to be smashing 5 sessions a week at full tilt but maybe in our younger years, let’s get to that session we don’t quite fancy doing, before you know it you’re killing two birds with one stone, that’s 3 sessions a week we’re upto.
Box ticked, awesome job, we’re smashing it now, we’re getting a little more conditioned to that increase in frequency of training. But, there’s a niggling point, you’ve probably been there, you open your eyes in a morning and take the first few steps out of bed and you realise your quads are dead from Wednesdays squat cleans, most people will look at there notifications before breakfast these days and you see more squats.
Right then... right before you take your first sip of morning coffee, what’s it gunna be? you gunna get that 5th session in? (If that’s your goal)
Fair enough, you may be too sore for some more squats, it’s all part of the process right? My advice would be, if it’s not the gym workout that day, do something. The chances are that once you’re moving and the bloods flowing you’re going to feel okay about it. You’re tapping into what it’s like to meet that short term goal, that’s awesome, keep going, we all have days like this, and that’s okay, it’s the decisions you make for yourself on those days that sculpt the rest of the week, the rest of the month and consequently your short, medium and long term goals. Remember your rest day is coming. I’ve been there. Believe me.
October 2016, about 9:00 o’clock at night. These days stick with me, they are what drive my passion to help people towards their Health and Fitness goals.
I’d just starting helping Ash out, an opportunity to coach for a living was on the horizon. At the time I was working full time for a roofing company and had probably been up north somewhere all day on a job, coming straight from work to coach the 18:30 + 19:30 classes. I could have mopped up and gone home with the members after the last class. But my medium term goal of competing in Rocket at the Rainhill Trials was getting closer, we’d just put in an order of our first assault bike......let me tell you, that assault bike isn’t so scary now. So.... about that 5th session, about those push ups you want to get better at, what about that running you want to do abit more of. Are we still sore?
Yes, not everyone is down for or able to lock themselves in a gym putting themselves into a black hole on an assault bike at 9:00 o’clock at night. The point of the story is that there’s going to be a moment for all of us to make a decision, this is what I suggest. NEVER GIVE UP. Find a way, even if it’s not a full gym session, there will be something you can do that day if it calls for it, you might be taking kids to football, sorry no time. A football pitch is about 300m around. These Lock downs and the gym being shut has taught us that a stack of cushions make a pretty good pad for sit ups, most of us do actually have a blank wall space to knock some squat therapy out, the dog might look at you abit funny whilst you’re doing it, but who cares? Rack the dog into a front rack position and get after working on those squats.
Right this is getting weird, talking about squatting dogs and stuff.
I’ll finish by taking you back to the start, “How do you do that?” “What do you do to be able to do that?” “Why do you make that look easy?”
Don’t be afraid of doing drills given and potentially blowing out before a WOD, I dare you to see what it’s like push for those extra reps in that AMRAP, when it’s cold outside and it’s that night you plan to get out for a run, come on, that rest day is right round the corner.
Set those goals and apply it everyday. Day in, day out. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and months into years. Keep going.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” T. Roosevelt
See you on the gym floor.