Article written by Rachelle Reinking
Athletes are ambitious people. As an athlete, you’re always setting new goals to better yourself, whether it’s for a competition or your own personal satisfaction. Having goals keeps you motivated and gives your training purpose. You decide that you’re going to hit new PR on deadlift. Oh, and you’ll shave time off of that one WOD. Plus, you’re going to look jacked, while getting lean and have some sick abs. These are all admirable and doable goals, but your training needs focus in order to achieve them. When you try to do it all, you end up with little to nothing to show for it. By training with focus, you’ll see significantly more progress than being scatterbrained with your programming.
Ideally, we all would get instant results. We know that isn’t how it works, so we dial in our training and nutrition over time in order to achieve those results through programming. When we recognize that a program isn’t giving us results we want, we switch it up. The egregious error that many lifters make is switching it up too often.
By jumping program to program frequently, you’re halting your own progress. Coaches see (and loathe) this common mistake, because they design your program with the intent that you’ll see it through to the end. Don’t complain to your coach that he or she is not getting you results after just one month; you haven’t stuck to the program long enough to see any of the effects. It’s best to give a program at least a few months. Through program consistency, you’ll be able to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. If you don’t see any improvement at this point, then you may go back to the drawing board. Direct your focus to the goal of this specific program, and move on to different one only once when you achieve the desired outcome or it no longer serves you.
The training and nutrition protocol looks different for every goal you might have: fat loss, mass gain, agility, strength, athletic performance, or flexibility. When you have your sights set on more than one of these goals, you add more onto your training schedule to achieve them. However, it becomes problematic when you add in more of everything. You start with a lifting program that includes max attempts, begin running longer distances, double your volume of lower body days to get more developed glutes, include fasted HIIT on the bike, and started taking up yoga so you could master that pose you saw on Instagram. Training like this is as detrimental to your progress as program jumping. By trying to do everything, you end up with nothing.
We can only put so many things on our plate in our lives before we’re overwhelmed. Training works the same way. You can’t put your all into a goal when your focus splits off in multiple directions. You won’t be giving your body an ample amount of recovery, the quality of your training will go down, and you’ll feel drained physically and mentally. Consequently, your progress will suffer all around. You must shift your focus toward one goal. Gain mass in the winter when everyone else is carrying holiday weight and lean out in bathing suit season. If you’re a competitor, keep your training strict in the weeks leading up to the meet. During off-season, set an objective that isn’t normally part of your training for your chosen sport. Your body needs the rest from the rigorous training regardless.
Remember that focus is finite. Find a happy medium in your training that lets you improve in one area while maintaining your progress in the others. No one wants their hard work to go to waste. You must clear your head from the fog of goal attention deficit disorder and train intelligently. Decide what you most want to achieve in the near future, and plan your programming accordingly. Stick with it. Only move onto another goal if you’re ready to direct your energy wholeheartedly into it. By giving your training focus, you’ll be able to meet all of your goals more efficiently.