5 Principles for Training Success
- Consistency is magic
- Stimulus is king
- Recovery is necessary
- Patience is essential (and peaceful)
- Mindset is crucial
If I had to sum up the truths of what I have learned from coaching thousands over a decade and seeing common pitfalls and common traits of those that succeed, this is a pretty solid summation. Let’s dig in:
You will get nothing without this. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Forget about your innate talent. Or even more debilitating – the quest for “the perfect ____ program” (insert any training, nutrition, strength, mobility program” to the blank. I’ve seen more people fail on an excellent program because they were inconsistent and I’ve seen wild success on generic and average programs because they maximized the hell out of it. Consistently showing up to do work that is anywhere outside of the realm of “super-dumb/super stupid” will always trump inconsistently adhering to the world’s best program. We should all take relief in this. Everyone has the potential to build consistency into their lives, there are no barriers to entry like money, skill, or experience; There are simply priorities and logistics to re-arrange.
Pro-tip: Zoom out.
The effects of consistency are compounding and exponential. Start measuring your consistency in quarters or years, rather than weeks or months.
When you go into train each day of programming is designed to elicit a specific stimulus. It is in many ways easier to build a highly customized program for an individual than it is to build an effective group program for a global audience. It is imperative that clients prioritize achieving the stimulus of the workout over adhering to any specific X’s and O’s written in the program.
If you follow the program without the requisite strength, skill, speed or capacity, you may in fact elicit an entirely different stimulus than the program intends, and in essence are not following the intention of the program even though you’re following the program…wait…what? Yes, you read that right; it’s as if the program was telling you “do as I say (intend) not as I do (write)”. My suggestion? Focus on understanding what the programming is trying to elicit and overlay your individual performance history, skill, and current capacity onto that to: customize reps, load, distance, or time of work because “stimulus is king”. In doing so, you will create a more individualized session and achieve faster results. Doing what your neighbors are doing is fine-and-well 20% of the time. Eighty percent of the time you should be ensuring that you are getting what you NEED, not just what everyone around you is doing.
Pro tip: Small = big!
Achieving the right stimulus is a thin line to walk. Small customizations can have a big impact – a few reps, a 10% weight increase/decrease, etc.
Training doesn’t make you stronger, it actually makes you weaker. Lifting weights damages muscle fibers. Conditioning drains energy and makes you less capable of recreating that power or speed the following day due to taxing your CNS and muscles. Recovery is where the body rebuilds and restores to a stronger state than before training, so recovery in actuality is the other half of the equation that makes us stronger and fitter. Without recovery, we eventually overtrain our body’s capacity to rebuild. This is a lesson I feel particularly close to in the past year of adjusting to parenthood. With far less time and energy for training and recovery, I have been forced to have greater awareness to maintain balance in the training-recovery equation – which means sometimes an extra 60-minutes of sleep is more vital than the benefit that would come from a training session. American societal ethos and capitalism will sell the “work harder/sleep when you’re dead lifestyle”…but it won’t get you far for long.
Recovery consists of sleep, nutrition (timing and volume), restorative movement, lifestyle stress reduction and state control. Start valuing and quantifying your recovery as much as you track and value your “training/work”.
People overestimate what they can accomplish in 3-6 months, but they underestimate what they can accomplish in 1-3 years. Thinking far into the future can be scary, but it allows us to reverse engineer logistically-accurate and comprehensive plans. Take for instance Invictus Athlete Brittany Weiss’ journey. She came to Invictus in 2018 as a Regionals athlete with a goal of going to the Games. She achieved that goal in 2022 and again in 2023 on a team. It was 4-5 years of ups and downs for her – injuries, successes, near-misses. Her new goal? Qualify for the Games as an individual. What’s her timeline for this goal? 2-3 years. YEARS, kids, YEARS! This is an athlete that just won the CF Games Team Competition, and her new goal is a 3-year journey.
Pro tip: Double it.
When setting goals with yourself, be practical in how long it will take you to achieve it, and however long you think…probably double it. Make peace with that before you start the journey and let it guide your mental and logistical approach.
- The Mind
The mind will amplify or nullify your potential, so make it your superhero, not your super villain. I’ve seen mindsets hold people back or propel them to achieve wild things that they didn’t think they could accomplish. In my 10 years of coaching, I’m convinced that the mind is the greatest asset and biggest differentiator in achieving most goals. I used to have a heavy focus on very technical coaching – cues, positions, technique. While I still value that technical foundation, I now facilitate greater programming decisions and integrate coaching guidance around harnessing our mindset and state-awareness given its influence on performance when all other things are equal. Mindset is a skill that is easily developed hand-in-hand alongside physical pursuits.
Pro tip: Download the FREE e-book: The Invictus Mindset – An Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness to develop the most powerful tool in your arsenal.