Written by Team Juggernaut
By Chad Wesley Smith
What separates the talented from the successful? Those with potential from those who accomplish great things? Three factors that almost all successful athletes will have in common are consistency, professionalism and goal setting.
Consistency is king
Whether it is a strength athlete, team sport athlete, or individual competitor, those who are at the top of their field will all have been training at a high level for years. Their success isn’t a product of one great training cycle, it is the accumulation of years of consistent effort and focus. Greatness can not be derailed by lapses in focus or injuries, it must be attained through focus and dedication even through trials and times where things are less than ideal. At Juggernaut, I have had numerous athletes with great talent who could not be dedicated and consistent to their physical preparation, skipping or missing workouts for various reasons or training for a month or two and then missing a few weeks or months. This lack of consistency not only caused me to take away their privilege of training here, it also allowed less talented but more consistent athletes to surpass their level of performance.
Professionalism isn’t about getting paid to compete in your sport of choice, it is about being serious and committed to doing the little things that make the difference between good and great. Elite Powerlifter Brandon Lilly weighs in on the subject, “For me, when I started to notice my lifting take off it was no change in my lifting at all. I always lifted hard, ate well, and made sure I wasn’t chasing my tail in that regard. However, when I started foam rolling, stretching, getting massage, being Grastoned, anything I could do to increase my recovery I started getting stronger by default. I could go to the gym fresh everyday, attack the weights with more intensity, and leave without feeling beat to death. Recovery work absolutely opened new doors to bigger numbers and I’m sure lengthened my career substantially.” Even though things like foam rolling, stretching, soft tissue work and ice baths may seem small, their cumulative effect of being done on a consistent basis will have a huge impact on your training and well being. Brandon mentioned how he feels active recovery treatments have helped him lengthen his career; many sports, particularly strength sports, are a war of attrition and being able to lengthen your competitive career gives you a much greater chance to achieve success.
Here are some of Juggernaut’s finest, (on left) Oakland Raider Miles Burris, (right) Chicago Bear’s 1st round pick Shea McClellin and (facing away) Kansas City Chief Devon Wylie, enhancing their recovery in the ice bath. Check out our interview with Miles here
Personally I make sure to at minimum take a weekly ice bath and get a treatment (active release, Graston, chiropractic) from Dr. Jason Reynolds at BodyDynamix Chiropractic. I have worked with Jason since I was 22 years old, during my senior year of college. Learn more about Jason at BDXchiro.com
Good to Great Nutrition
Proper nutrition is critical to having a professional approach to your training. Great nutrition MUST be a consistent part of your life. If you want to be lean and strong you can’t have a great diet for 4 or 5 days and then eat crap for the rest of the week, or have a few good weeks of dieting at a time. Taking time out one day of the week to prepare all your meat and vegetables for the week and separate them into bags or containers will go a long way to improving your consistency and nutrition. Creating a nutrition plan for yourself, or better yet having an expert like Nate Winkler help you, is the first step to improving your nutrition. If you go into the day or week knowing what you are supposed to eat then you will be much less likely to be unprepared and make poor nutrition choices. For more in depth nutrition info check out the following articles from Nate Winkler, The $100 Diet, Explosive Nutrition.
As a freshman in college, throwing the shot put at the University of California, Berkeley, I found it tedious and boring to go to the training room for restorative treatments when I was healthy or get in the ice bath on a regular basis. Four years later as a redshirt senior I made it a habit to get soft tissue work done and get in the ice bath twice a week. The nine-foot difference in my personal best certainly reflected these improvements to my professionalism.
It is common for athletes to lack consistency if they lack a goal or find their goals too daunting to accomplish. Don Babbit, the Throws Coach at the University of Georgia, has produced some of the World’s top throwing athletes, including Olympians Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa and Breaux Greer. As a young athlete, Babbit discussed with me a very simple and effective way to make your goals seem more manageable. He talked about how I needed to identify a handful (5-10) of areas that I knew had a high correspondence to my throwing success. If I wanted to improve my throw by 5% I needed to improve each of these indicator areas by 5%. Let’s break this down into a real world example….
With a PR of 19m in the shot, a 5% improvement would mean I would throw 19.95m, almost a full meter improvement is very significant, but when broken down into 5% improvements across a range of drills it seems much more realistic. For example, here are 5% improvements on a number of drills that I know correspond well to my shot putting…
Bench Press-400 pounds to 420
Squat-650 pounds to 685
Vertical Jump-30” to 31.5”
Standing Broad Jump-9’6” to 9’11.5”
Standing Triple Jump-28’ to 29’5”
30m Sprint-3.8 seconds to 3.61 seconds
Setting a personal record of nearly a meter in the shot put seems impossible at first glance, but when you look at the fairly nominal improvements across a number of indicator exercises, it becomes much more attainable.
Measuring improvements in nutrition, recovery protocols or technical/tactical skills isn’t as simple as lifts, jumps and sprints, but can still be done. When looking to improve your nutrition, count the total number of meals you eat per week and see what percentage of those meals fall in line with meeting your nutritional goals, improve that by 5%. To improve your dedication to recovery, either count the number of recovery sessions you perform per week or the total amount of time you dedicate to it and increase that by 5%. If you are lacking proficiency in a certain technical skill, find a drill that corresponds well to it and perform it 5% more and if you aren’t up to par on the tactical aspect of your sport, spend 5% more time watching film.
Going from good to great in your sport of choice is a great endeavor, one that goes well beyond the scope of this article, but hopefully you can take some ideas from here and improve your performance.
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