barbell logic deadlift

Coach is Your Co-Pilot

By: Barbell Logic Team

Your coach is like your navigator. He or she knows how to read the map of your physiology, knows the principles that will lead you toward your destination, and understands how different obstacles will affect that path, what adjustments to make, and when to make them. The practice of navigation or “wayfinding” has four stages: Orientation, Route Decision-Making, Route Monitoring, and Destination Recognition. We can use these four stages to frame your relationship with your coach as a programming partner.

Your Coach is Your Co-Pilot

barbell logic deadliftYou are in a car, driving in an unfamiliar city. As you wander about, it helps to have a navigator, someone in the seat next to you looking at the map, who also knows the destination and can help you get there. For married couples on vacation, some of the best, most epic arguments happen right here. As the driver, contending with other drivers, obeying traffic laws, winding your way around obstacles and unfamiliar streets, you have to deal with the realities of the road. Your navigator sees the big picture unobstructed, seeing the destination and the best way to get there.

This is analogous to the coach/lifter relationship. The lifter has to get under the bar and execute, eat right, sleep well, and fit training into their schedule. The coach puts the plan down on paper and, if the lifter would just do it, knows that it will help the lifter reach his goals.

This can be frustrating for lifters, who may not see how each composite workout contributes to their goals, or discouraging, when their idea of progress markers is different from their coaches’.

This can be frustrating for a coach, who determines the program on paper as what is “optimal” and sees the lifters’ deviations as missing the mark, the result of distractions or poor habits, being generally avoidable.

The truth is that the coach and lifter are partners in the pursuit of strength. As someone who has chosen to strength train, you have goals. Those goals may be wide-ranging, from sports to aesthetics to longevity. Regardless, there is something you want out of the time, energy, and sweat you have spent under the bar. You may also have an intrinsic cost you are willing to pay for those goals. How you balance those costs with your time and energy resources along with your own goals and expectations shapes how you view your training progress.

Your coach is like your navigator. He or she knows how to read the map of your physiology, knows the principles that will lead you toward your destination, and understands how different obstacles will affect that path, what adjustments to make, and when to make them. The practice of navigation or “wayfinding” has four stages: Orientation, Route Decision-Making, Route Monitoring, and Destination Recognition. We can use these four stages to frame your relationship with your coach as a programming partner.

Orientation

Orientation for programming means figuring out where you are relative to your goal and along the continuum of your training advancement. Everyone has an imaginary curve of physical attributes. On the y-axis is your ability to express certain attributes, like strength, relative to your genetic potential. The x-axis is time. When you first start out, as with anything new, you can make relatively big improvements quickly. This means that the first part of the curve is steep. As you improve, changes are less frequent are smaller in magnitude. This means that the curve flattens out over time. Very strong, experienced and advanced athletes, must work long and hard for small improvements.

We don’t know the exact values that lie along this strength curve, but we have a pretty good idea as to its general shape. Orientation takes your goals and figures out where you are along this curve, helping to determine the best way to make improvements. This is one of the powerful aspects of the Novice Linear Progression. (Read: Be a Novice, Build Your Training History.) It standardizes your training data and helps your coach orient you, setting up the next step, route decision-making.

Orientation helps you and your coach to develop a kind of map for your training, a strategic and tactical plan for getting from Point A to Point B. The strategic plan is the most direct path to your goal, assuming perfect conditions, consistent training, and based on current information about how you will adapt. The tactical plan provides context. It is the individual training session, changing sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis in response to your performance in the gym. You define the goal, your coach sets the strategy, and you both agree on the tactical constraints that might limit or affect the overall plan. You act together in this so that both of you are in agreement about what needs to happen each workout. Programming, then, has two parts: The plan and the performance; what you should do and what actually happens.

Route Decision Making

There are often multiple routes to the same destination. When training for strength, this becomes more true the more advanced you are, the more sports you play or hobbies you have, the more constraints on your recovery practices, probably even the more children you have. A program in a book or a template that doesn’t coalesce in the unique properties and person of the lifter is only a useful starting place. On the one hand, you as a lifter should strive for what is optimal and appropriate for your level of training advancement and your goals. Consistent training, good form, and good recovery practices are worth more in your training than the best programs. Strive to meet all three of these and you will make the most out of your training.

Almost everyone, however, has some constraints built into their lives. Excuses are not good, but life, family, and emergencies affect training more than we might want them to. When that is the case, overall planning and good on-the-fly decisions help keep you moving toward your goal.

When it comes to making adjustments, no constraint is so great that you cannot train. It is possible, every single day, to generate a stress or part of a cumulative stress that will kick off the recovery and adaptive responses. If you feel stuck due to sub-optimal training or recovery, good route-decision making can help you get unstuck and back on your way.

Route Monitoring

You must check to make sure you are heading in the right direction from time to time. As a Novice lifter, these checks happen every time you train. Lifting heavier and heavier weights is a good marker that helps you know you are on the right path toward getting stronger. As you become more advanced these confirmatory efforts become less frequent.

A coach can help identify those markers that should indicate when you are on the right path. It would be great if every week we could load the bar up for a new 1RM, sit back, and watch our progress increase steadily. But, after a while, this just doesn’t work. The adaptive process is simple in theory but must be managed with increasing complexity as you move forward.

You and your coach can set up different targets to help measure your progress over time. At first, these goals will be more general: Weight-on-the-bar PRs; Volume PRs; Form PRs each may represent progress during a phase of your training. Later, you might sign up for a Strengthlifting Meet as a goal and a marker of your progress. Eventually, these markers will be further out and take longer strategic planning to reach, but constant monitoring of your route will help keep you focused and on-task.

Destination Recognition

Finally, depending on your goal, it helps to have a coach to tell you whether you have met it, or not. This is especially true if your goal isn’t a number on the bar, but rather a general physical goal, a goal for sports, or something not easily measured by pounds or kilograms.

This is also a time for reassessment. Wayfinding, planning, and mapping your training are mostly cognitive exercises. But the goal is change. The other aspects must repeat constantly to help determine the plan. Recognizing that you have met one goal is just a signal to reassess your training. Reorient yourself, make decisions with your coach about what’s next, talk about what goals—short- and long-term—you now have and keep the process going.

SPECIAL OFFERS

OTHER NEWS

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

 

twitter2 twitter2 instagram2 facebook2

 

©2019 Barbell Logic | All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Powered by Tension Group

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?