Are you being coached, or just trained?
Do you know the difference between being coached and being trained? Sets, reps, time domains, exercises and progressions are only half of the equation when it comes to consistent gains in strength, and improvements in fitness. If you’re only following a “workout of the day” program without any feedback or specific adjustments, you are being trained but not coached.
The online “workout of the day” format is a program for the masses. Think of it as a template or “cookie-cutter” approach. It can make you better, but not nearly to the extent as a workout plan that’s accompanied by individualized coaching. To be clear, coaching does not mean just scaling and/or modifying the workouts. True coaching goes so far beyond that. Also, this does not have to take place in a one-on-one environment and doesn’t mean you can’t have a community workout with your personalized options to connect with people in a healthy, competitive atmosphere. More on that later.
My goal is to show you why high-level coaching paired with training will dominate training on its’ own every time.
Every plan needs direction: goals, a starting point and a path to get from one to the other.
- GOALS (your “why): We choose to push ourselves in the gym for different reasons. From simply being healthy to competing and everything in between, the direction of training should correlate to each individual goal. That’s what modifying and scaling are for right? Nope, not even in the same ballpark.
- STARTING POINT (taking inventory): What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your biggest areas of opportunity or even your knowledge about your own body mechanics? Review of strength and technique via video is a great way to get a baseline. There are always specific reasons as to why you are lacking or your progress is stalling in certain areas. It could simply be that the movement is new or you lack the strength to complete it. Technique is an obvious factor, but when I hear athletes say, “I just need to get my technique dialed in,” I want to respond by asking, “What do you mean by that? Which part of the lift or movement do you struggle with? What is the biggest thing holding you back? How often do you work your ‘technique?’ Are you only trying the full movement over and over again?” If you don’t know how to begin triaging the full lift or movement so you can break it down into smaller segments or specific exercises, drills or progressions then your chances of getting it “dialed in” are slim to none. Is this where I scale or modify? No.
- PATH TO GET THERE (your training & coaching plan): We have the starting point and the goal, now we need to create a customized path to get there. On one hand, if you start someone too far down the path, frustration and decline in performance can occur. On the other hand, not starting someone far enough down the path can lead to lack of motivation and plateaus. With a stock workout for everyone, you cannot address this. The starting point and path can be customized for each individual even in a community-style workout. Ahhh, so THIS is where we talk scaling and modifying then? Still a hard no.
Fine. You want to talk scaling and modifying?
- KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Scaling is changing the weight, reps or difficulty of the movement. Modifying is changing the movement all together.
- UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE: Every workout should be created with a desired stimulus in mind and that isn’t just to CRUSH people every time. Anyone can make someone sweat but not everyone can consistently make someone better. Different focuses from session to session, week to week and/or month to month provide the stimulus needed for steady progression. The stimulus (or focus) should be clearly explained so that you understand when to scale and when to modify, and when you shouldn’t be doing either.
- EXAMPLE: Let’s say your WOD for today has 50 reps of a movement. Should you do big sets, moderate sets or singles? At the risk of sounding like my college philosophy professor, that all depends. But really, it does depend on the stimulus goal. Is it strength endurance? Then slow and steady singles with a moderate to heavy weight are the strategy. Is it mental/physical endurance? Then giant sets (or going unbroken) as long as possible is the strategy. If the focus isn’t explained, then weights and reps schemes are all over the place and the stimulus is inconsistent, which makes it near impossible to lead people toward a strategy that will yield the best result for that training session.
Coach/athlete communication is imperative:
- CODE TO CRACK: This code can be very different for each person. Mentally, some athletes in competition want to know their splits and pace, while others just simply want to know who they have to beat regardless of their score or time. Physically, some athletes can handle a lot more volume and mental warfare than others. Verbally, some athletes need a lot of encouragement, others constantly want to be challenged and pushed. Getting to know all of these differences is “the art of coaching” that I love so much. Finding the formula for each athlete’s success and seeing them accomplish things that even surprise themselves is so rewarding.
- FEEDBACK: Before, during and after training session dialogue allows you to work smarter while you work harder. Coaching cues, adjustments on weight, encouragement, strategy, mindset and (let’s be honest) tough love are all things that help take you to the next level. When just following a WOD you miss out on so many benefits.
Can training on its’ own make you better? It can. But coaching and training while being part of a community will take you BEYOND better, to your very best.