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September 08, 2011

ARTICLE: Making Changes

Making Changes
By Matt Vincent

                In my 14 years of training I have been through a lot of coaches; some better than others.  Almost all of them had something valuable that I learned and continue to use today.   Having the opportunity to learn hands on from different athletes, coaches, and experts is something that I do not take for granted.  The majority of people never leave their training group and rarely get any outside influence.  One thing that I have never understood is an athlete’s decision to stick with a training program that is not working for them or showing any progress.   

There are some basic elements to training that have been successful for me since I started training.  These basic philosophies will never change for me, and this was what I decided would be the most important lifts for me as well as what I was going to use as my indicators for improvement.  Other than this, I believe there is no one training style that will work for everyone.  After taking your basic principles of what you want to accomplish, everything else can be manipulated.  Adjustments can help you dial in what works the best for you to achieve your goals.  There will be times that your workout will have to change due to any number of things: time constraints, season, etc. 
           In stark contrast, I have witnessed athletes who have been relentlessly doing the exact same program for years without any gains.  I tend to notice this more with powerlifters than I do with strongman or throwing.  Part of this is due to strongman and throwing having such a variety of events which you need to be prepared.   Powerlifting only has three main events.  I know that there are now federations that do not have a squat and replace that with a curl in some cases.  This, however, is stupid and will not be given any consideration.  If you are competing under the guise of this, then you are doing it wrong anyway.   I have never understood the hardheaded approach to training wherein, “after a year of training a certain way did not get me the results that I was hoping to accomplish, why on earth I would continue down that path to further failure?”  With this type of a problem, an honest look at your training and weaknesses needs to be done.  Once these weaknesses are determined, addressing them is the next step. For example, if you are strong but have trouble hitting depth squatting due to mobility issues, then your flexibility needs to be addressed.  As often as you see that scenario, you also see the other, where guys go to the gym and change the program they are doing every two weeks.  These same fellows will complain that it didn’t work for them.  Well, of course it didn’t dummy.  Anytime that something new gets added to training you need at least six weeks of dedication to determine if that is working for you.

Get on a basic plan…whatever it is.  One of the basic programs I started with after college was the “west side for skinny bastard” program, which helped me build all of the basic fundamentals that I needed. Since then, I have experimented with variations of “5/3/1” and “Block Periodization”.   Through all of this, I have maintained my basic principles of what I hoped to accomplish.  I know for throwing I need strong legs, back, hips, shoulders, and arms, no matter what program. If these things are not being addressed then I will not get the results that I want.  Now, I had to examine my own lifting experience to determine what variables worked best for me.  Deciding how much conditioning, what volume of lifting, what percentages, volume of throwing, stretching, mobility, and bounding work combined together to achieve my goals the most efficiently has been where my main focus. 
            I still adhere to the basics (squat, bench, deadlift, and press) every week.  I need mobility and conditioning of some type every day.  Occasionally, I need to stop and look back to make sure I have not veered far from these basic plans. 

In conclusion, spend some time to determine what works best for you and stick with it only making micro adjustments to see if you can make improvements.  There is no such thing as a perfect program, but figuring out what is the most effective training method for you at that given time is crucial.  Lift hard and often.  With consistent training, comes (usually) bountiful gains. Poetic, ain’t it!?

one of these days I will finish all of this...

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