Written by Chad Wesley Smith
There is constant debate about what program is best, Cube Method, Westside, Juggernaut Method, 5/3/1, the list goes on. All of these programs have their merit, all have their shortcomings, but there are undeniably successful lifters using a wide array of training styles and getting stronger all the time. So what does that mean? Does the program not matter? How can people get strong using such wildly different training styles?
Of course the program does matter and there are sound and unsound programming principles but there are 4 things that can help you succeed regardless of what program you are using.
This point really got hammered home for me during a dinner this past Friday night after Sorinex Summer Strong. Myself, Brandon Lilly and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in the Shot Put, Adam Nelson, were out to dinner and we got on the topic of some of the crazy training we used to do when we were in high school. Both Brandon and Adam had done their far share of ultra high volume training (ie. 10×10 of multiple squat variations or squats and deads in the same session), while I went more for huge sprinting and jumping volumes stacked on top of lots of squats.
No coach or expert in programming would look at the programs we were doing and think they were a recipe for success, yet they laid the foundation for three very successful athletes.
Besides unsound programming we all had another thing in common, we all wholeheartedly believed in what we were doing. Believed in working unbelievably hard and with passion and believed that this tireless work was going to yield great results for us.
You need to believe in what you do, the way you train and why you’re doing it. The power of belief in undeniable.
In regards to programming mistakes, one of the most terrible and common offenders, is the program hopper. The program hopper is the antithesis of consistency, changing their plan/goals/efforts every few weeks and months and making it even worse, they even do it sometimes when things are going well. An absolute minimum of 3 months, but 6 is a better guideline, to be dedicated to a program before judging it’s merits. Also if you are buying a program like The Cube Method or any other ebook program, you should run that program exactly as written at least one full time through before starting to make your own adjustments. The author wrote it that way for a reason and you bought it for a reason (probably because you think the author is smarter/stronger than you) so do it they way they say before putting your own twist on things.
Program hopping isn’t the only offender when it comes to consistency, there are numerous ways to lack consistency in your training. Whether it’s inconsistent effort in the gym or in the kitchen, failing to consistently show up, work hard and execute your plan will lead to diminished results. Anyone can come out of the gates hot and train hard or keep their diet on point for a week or even a month, but it is the ability to stack those months into years that will set apart the great from the average. You don’t have to have a PR day everytime you step in the gym and of course you are going to have off days and make mistakes but the ability to consistently rise to your own expectations of yourself when it comes to effort is going to help you be successful in any endeavor.
3. Critically Thinking About What You’re Doing
Why are you doing what you’re doing in your training? Because that’s the way you’ve always done it? Because so and so told you to do it that way? Because it is what fits your unique needs as an athlete? One of those is a great answer. You need to keep in mind what YOU need to succeed, chances are it may not be the same things as I need or other top lifters or your training partners. You need to think about why you are doing certain exercises, what the rationale behind your diet is and if it is right for you.
Now with this point, there is certainly a danger of overanalyzing your training and getting stuck in a sort of paralysis-by-analysis scenario, so as you examine your training, be mindful of avoiding that. A simple way to do that can be hiring a coach, who will allow you to stay out of your own head, while he or she examines your training and the two of you work together to fine tune things for you and hopefully if they are a good coach, they can tell you to STFU when you are overly nitpicking your plan.
Training isn’t an overly complex thing and shouldn’t be treated as such, but that doesn’t mean you should be a mindless meathead in the gym just doing exercises cause they’re going to look cool on YouTube. Make sure what you are doing is going to be a benefit to you and once you have established that it will, then turn all your energy towards executing that plan with all you have.
It is tough to be honest, particularly with yourself because it isn’t a fun realization that you aren’t as strong as you thought, you aren’t as dedicated as you thought and you don’t work as hard as you thought. To be successful, honesty with yourself (and if possible surrounding yourself with a group that will give you honest feedback) is a must.
Be honest about what level you are at in your career, chances are you aren’t nearly advanced enough to be trying to do the same program as Andrey Malanichev or Dmitry Klokov.
Be honest about what your weaknesses are. This will probably result in your having to do a bunch of exercises that you hate because you suck at them, meaning that you probably really need them.
Be honest about your level of dedication. Are you really training hard, are you sleeping enough, are you eating enough of the right stuff?
Be brave enough to say to yourself that you could be doing more, that you could be doing better and then to go out and work to become better.
There are a lot of great programs available with a few keystrokes but if one of them was really the best, everyone would be doing it. Regardless of the program you use, you can be successful by making sure that belief, consistency, critical thinking and honesty are a part of your training process.Chad Wesley Smith is the founder and head physical preparation coach at Juggernaut Training Systems. Chad has a diverse athletic background, winning two national championships in the shot put, setting the American Record in the squat (905 in the 308 class, raw w/ wraps) and most recently winning the 2012 North American Strongman championship, where he earned his pro card. In addition to his athletic exploits, Chad has helped over 50 athletes earn Division 1 athletic scholarships since 2009 and worked with many NFL Players and Olympians. Chad is the author of The Juggernaut Method and The Juggernaut Method 2.0 and The Juggernaut Football Manual. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter