Written by Ewa Januszkiewicz
Fully committed and more determined than ever, you feel like you’re on the right track to achieve your strength goals. As you train, you track your metrics, but see no real progress. What are you doing wrong? After all, you’ve watched, read, and listened to every youtube tutorial, instagram clip, podcast, and article that has ever existed surrounding strength sports and nutrition. You have been training for an entire cycle now. How are you not a world champion yet?!
Let’s be clear. Even though we live in a time where everything reflects the “here and now” mentality, strength training still takes time. Vasily Alekseyev, Brian Shaw, Hafthor Bjornsson, Kimberly Walford, Becca Swanson, Dmitry Klokov, Andrey Malanichev, Jill Mills, Blaine Sumner, and Taylar Stallings didn’t accomplish all of their strength goals over night. What they did do, however, is plan properly and execute accordingly. Being a champion has nothing to do with luck, but rather, with diligent planning, effort, and time commitment.
So what exactly are you doing wrong?
1. You Don’t Have A Coach
Even the best athletes generally tend to have coaches. People who are coaches to others probably still have a coach of their own. Why? Because it’s always beneficial to have another point of view. Someone to bounce ideas off of and help you improve technically can be vastly beneficial to your performance. Even lifters who coach themselves now, have, at one point or another in their careers, had a coach. A coach will guide you by tracking your training metrics, monitoring your fatigue and recovery, and by creating a training program. Coaches are valuable because they point things out that you would never normally be honest with yourself about. Was that weight too difficult? Are you cutting depth on your squat? They are also there to encourage and push you. They can help you figure out what is and is not working and they likely have experience in coaching others. Experience is knowledge, and knowledge is power.
2. You’re Creating Your Program From What You See On Social Media
Social media is a useful resource for motivation, networking, and fun. What it is not good for is helping you create a successful program. Trying to piece together a workout based on someone else’s social media is not going to be beneficial. Sure, checking out other lifters’ form, technique, or assistance work can be helpful, but should not be relied upon when attempting to train consistently for a meet. In this case, build your program from what you’ve read in textbooks and articles, or better yet, hire a strength coach. A program that focuses on the heavy compound movements and allows you to gain both mass and strength is going to optimize your performance. This is unlikely to be created from your favorite internet friends’ social media.
3. You Don’t Follow A Nutrition Plan
Personally speaking, I did not understand how much of an impact nutrition can have on my performance until I actually began following a diet plan. I began my journey with Chris Aydin, through Inov8. I followed a flexible dieting plan and was very successful. As I began to learn more about nutrition and training, I connected with Nick Shaw of Renaissance Periodization. Over the years, as I dialed in my nutrition, I made huge progress in my performance while remaining in the 63 kg (138 lb) weight class. Eating whatever you so choose is great – and delicious – but don’t expect to get optimal results without properly fueling your body. Your body needs an adequate amount of macronutrients and micronutrients to help you train with intensity and recover sufficiently to allow you to continue training. Nutrition takes time; but it is really so easy to do if you commit yourself to it.
4. You Don’t Have A Long Term Plan
Progress in powerlifting is not linear. As a beginner, it might seem that it is because every time you step into the gym, you are getting better. However, this will slow down. There will come a time when you aren’t hitting a personal best every week. This is why it is so valuable to have a long term plan, and stick to your programmed numbers. If you try to move too quickly, without focusing on the basic strength principles, technique, mobility and stability, you put yourself at risk for getting injured. I understand the temptation to push your limits in the gym. However, it is not worth it when looking at the long term plan. Your central nervous system is heavily impacted by higher intensity lifts, and your fatigue will increase as you continue to press for a higher gym total. Improper recovery will result in more difficult training days, and ultimately prevent you from progressing as your program suggested you would. Save your glory for the platform.
5. You’re Waiting To Be ‘Good Enough’ To Compete
Sign up for a meet. Don’t be the very person that is holding you back! Lifting is a sport of longevity, and one in which your most meaningful competition is yourself. The more experience you have on the platform, the better you will become at competing. There is no qualifying total for competing in a local meet. Give yourself time to train consistently. Move through hypertrophy, strength, and peaking, then test your strength in a meet. Training can get tedious and overwhelming. Having something to look forward to is a great motivator.
It is tempting to get sucked into the “here and now” mentality, especially when there is constant pressure from our society to be good at everything, and be good at it immediately. It is rare for an athlete to become the strongest overnight. Below are 5 mistakes that are preventing athletes from being successful:
1. Not having a coach
2. Trying to build a program through what you see on social media
3. Not following a nutrition plan.
4. Losing sight of the long term plan
5. Waiting until you’re “good enough” to compete