Working on your Weaknesses, Asking for Help and Avoiding Unnecessary Training Mistakes

“Working on your weaknesses” needs to be more than just a catch phrase. It holds no worth if you can’t identify what they are! Here’s a hint. If you are disproportionately good at a variation, and can heavily overload the exercise beyond your competition max…… perhaps, just perhaps, it isn’t training a weakness.
Nothing wrong with high box squats, high block pulls or reverse band lifts when used sparingly, however very often they aren’t the missing link and what’s stopping you from lifting those weights in competition.
To be able to train and programme yourself you need to have the wide base of knowledge to evaluate your movements, muscle imbalances and strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge and skill can obviously be developed but I believe that it takes at least a decade before you really can properly ‘go it alone’. Until that point, even if you programme for yourself you should consult with those more experienced than yourself. In saying that, I’ve known people who have lifted for decades who still couldn’t programme themselves out of a paper bag. Some people will just always need a coaches eye.
It has become a cliche to reference Westside Barbell these days, however one of the keys to their success was the fact that Louie Simmons (and so many of the lifters at Westside over the years) were always talking to each other and picking each others brains about training. For whatever reason now so many gyms and coaches and lifters are much more cagey and do not like to share and discuss information so openly in person as this.
This is feel is a real shame. We live in an age where we are flooded with more information than ever. Countless articles and videos online and yet my general experience is that lifters discuss training in person, less and less. Yes there is some great information out there online, but nothing will replace someone else in the gym, be it a coach or just another experienced lifter, showing you a technique, coaching cue or exercise which you had previously not fully understood or been able to implement.
You don’t have to take on everything everyone says, but I’d strongly encourage people not to be so closed off. It may surprise you, but you don’t know it all already and the ‘off the shelf’ programme you are following was invariably not written with you in mind.
You don’t have to surrender ALL training decisions over to a coach and it is not admitting defeat in saying you don’t really know what you are doing either. Listening to pointers with an open mind and asking for help is what any smart lifter will do. Failure to do this will usually mean a ton of wasted time with generic programmes which aren’t written for you, general frustration with lack of progress and often a huge number of mistakes being made which could easily be avoided.
Gyms are often full of experienced lifters and you can learn a thing or two so ask questions and talk about training with those around you in the gym. You might just get stronger!
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