Hey team, quick rant here, concerning the role that your coach is supposed to play during your lifting career. I recently ran across an Instagram page that I spent way too long hate-scrolling down, where the athlete consistently talked about lifting for 8, 9, 10 days in a row without taking a break. The athlete would do near max/max singles that weren’t in the original program, and the athlete routinely bragged that they were able to convince the coach to let them do these singles, even though that’s not what the coach programmed. The athlete also, ironically, had photos of all kinds of injuries the athlete was suffering, aches and pains, and some photos where their knees looked like they were attached to their rectum in the bottom of some horrifically failed squats. The athlete recognizes all of this, but doesn’t care, because “gym is life.”
My point in all of this is a simple question: Why does this athlete even have a coach?
A coach is supposed to be the adult in the room. I have written before that a lot of the time, athletes can behave like children when it comes to their training. Not temper tantrum-in-the-grocery checkout lane-type of tantrum, but more along the lines of short-sighted thinking, seeking immediate gratification vs. reaching long-term goals, and risking injury for a quick payoff when a bigger payoff can be achieved with more of a slow, steady approach.
Now, what do I means when I say that you should probably hate your coach?
Because your coach should not be giving into your daily whims, your spur-of-the-moment PR attempts because you think you’re feeling ready, even though it can mess up the whole cycle, and failure to force the athlete to take rest days. If your coach does not think long-term for you, does not program rest into your training as a VERY necessary component of the program, and does not make you stick to what is written because they have your sessions planned out for a purpose, why do you even need a coach? You clearly know what you want to do: seek immediate gratification, jeopardize a long-term training goal to “see where you’re at”, and to go hard every day at the risk of serious injury to yourself. A coach that consistently gives into these things is not a coach worth having.
You should hate your coach some days for the same reason you hated your parents when you were younger: they didn’t let you do what you THOUGHT you wanted to do. They saw the bigger picture. They knew that if you went for a PR five weeks before you were scheduled to, you might hit it, you might not. They knew that if you missed it, it would mess with your mind the whole session, maybe the whole week, and subsequent training sessions might have to be altered. They knew that you might hit a 5lb PR right now when you could have hit a 20lb PR if you finished the cycle correctly.
Taking programmed rest days is the #1 argument I have with clients, especially new lifters who fall for the memes that talk about “100% beast mode every day.” These clients haven’t been injured yet, so they may not understand why the rest days are important until it’s too late. Between you and me, sometimes I WANT them to suffer a small injury or setback, because it’s the only way for them to say to themselves “oh ok, I see why I should have rested now. Lessons learned for the future.” Sometimes it really does take an injury to open an athlete’s mind to the limits of the human body and mind. There is no animal or system on earth that does not take “rest periods”, shutdown times, or sleep cycles without suffering the consequences of being overworked, running too hot for too long, etc. Do you really think that someone that’s been lifting for a year or two is invulnerable to setbacks?
This is what I mean when I say athletes act like children, and why you should hate your coach from time to time. Because they are looking out for you, long-term. You may not like it now, and you may not even admit it to them or yourself, but you will be thankful that they forced you to do certain things to truly make the gym a lifelong endeavor. Try to bite off more than you can chew, and you will choke. Not on greatness, but mediocrity.
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