Things to Avoid, Habits to BuildThink of the various programming techniques as cards you can play. It’s best to play one card at a time. We train for the long haul, so you’ll have time to play these cards and experience these different training methods in due course.
Things to Avoid, Habits to Build: How to Get the Most Out of Training
While it’s easy for us to say that form and consistency are the keys to success, it’s much more difficult to build the habits that lead to years of excellent form and consistent training. And challenges come in seasons. There are times of adjustment during every lifting career that will challenge one’s consistency and willingness to train:
- When you first Fail a Rep as a Novice
- When you Fall in and Out of Love with the Lifts
- When you Fall into an Intermediate Lifter Trap
Over time, we’ve observed patterns among lifters that seem to make up the best practices for success. The above articles are a few that BLOC coaches have produced in the normal course of answering some of the most common questions.
One question we get a lot from new lifters is some version of this:
“What are the biggest or most common mistakes that you see new clients make? Or, reframed, what tips do you have for maximizing the new client experience?”
Below is a simple but brilliant answer from a BLOC coach:
First, let’s assume that “maximizing your experience” means most quickly progressing toward your goals.
Things to avoid:
Missing workouts. Though coaches discuss and debate high bar versus low bar, RPE, and the right balance of volume and intensity, the most important thing is to complete all of your workouts (or get as close as possible).
Boredom causing one to want more variety or different forms of stress too early. Many clients see the shiny object of intermediate or advanced training, conditioning, hypertrophy exercises, dynamic training, or training with bands or chains and desire to do some or all of these as soon as possible.
Think of the various programming techniques as cards you can play. It’s best to play one card at a time. We train for the long haul, so you’ll have time to play these cards and experience these different training methods in due course.
What many novice and early intermediates don’t realize is that advanced lifters would love to go back to their novice days where they could simply add 5 pounds a workout using the main lifts.
The caveat here is that, if you absolutely LOVE one of these things—e.g., you love to run or you love doing some bodybuilding-style exercises—you can add them intelligently to minimize their effect on your strength progress. (See also “Strength is Consistent with Everything.”
Not enjoying the process. This goes along with the above, but from a different perspective.
When you first start lifting, you are in a time of rapid progress. The novice linear progression starts on the vertical part of the diminishing returns curve. You learn how to lift more efficiently, you learn how to grind against some heavier weight, you gain muscle easily, and you’re beginning the first steps of the process. Enjoy it to the best of your ability, even if you find that you’re a “medicine taker”—someone who only likes the results but does not enjoy training itself. If this is the case, it may be worth finding ways to make training easier and more fun, whether it be listening to your favorite music or podcasts or having a training partner to hold you accountable and make training sessions more enjoyable.
Habits to build:
How to manage your body weight. What you decide to do with your body weight depends on your preferences and what your current body weight and body fat percentage are. Regardless of whether you want to gain weight, maintain weight to shift your body fat percentage, or lose weight, linear progression offers a time of rapid progress and relatively rapid muscle gain. This is a good time to work on habits to shift your body weight in the direction you want.
Have and build your training log. Ensure you record your lifts and progress. You’ll enjoy going back through them someday. Also, feel free to tweak how you record things. You might only use the training log to record workouts. You might record training sessions and food intake in the same journal. It doesn’t matter. Regardless, record it along the way.
A physical training log is also a great place to record PRs and other things, such as which hole to put the safety pins in for your squat.
Ask questions, and keep learning. If you’re reading this and asking these questions, you’re obviously doing this, but a good coach will not keep his or her methods mysterious. He or she can explain programming and exercise choices. If you’re confused or just curious about something, ask. Your relationship with your coach will change over time. You will pick things up over time, and your form will improve. So, going forward, a coach provides a more objective person to program for you and help fix your form, but—on some level—you need the coach less, though you may decide to retain the coach as you still see the value he provides.
Build a community—online or in person. Find or build a community of people who enjoy the process of building strength through voluntary hardship. The BLOC Family Slack App and social media platforms provide an online community to share ideas, continue to learn, and receive encouragement through successes and struggles. These also—more importantly—provide a means to set up meetups in person, as you can learn about coaches and fellow lifters in your area.
We continually try to answer questions and provide useful content to help make your strength training successful. Check out a few of our newest resources below:
The Technique Page: For all things technique related
The Coaches’ Corner: For those who want to take a deep dive into becoming a coach.