Rome wasn’t built in a day

In this day and age everybody seems to want everything NOW and it appears that patience is quickly becoming an outdated trait. In the fitness world we have got caught up in this race for urgent supposed perfection, with 6 week body transformations complete with adverts of models with sculpted torsos and promising accelerated fat loss in a matter of weeks.

We are bombarded with images of supposed perfect athletic figures and told that we can achieve this in an extraordinary time frame provided you follow a particular programme, a certain diet or take a certain supplement?

When it comes to training for better performance, unfortunately we have not escaped ‘the rush’ mentality either. We see training videos of athletes jumping up onto walls and lifting bars that bend. We can get a little over eager and try to progress far too quickly in our pursuit of ‘beast mode’. I wish my eyes recorded some of what I’ve seen, lads screaming and shouting banging their hands and standing over the bar staring at it like they want to kill it, then comes the lift followed swiftly by the exit from the gym towards the changing rooms, bent over and twitching like ‘Edgar the bug’ from the movie Men in Black.2015-10-26 11.45.17

So what went wrong? Let me guess….Improper technique?

Well surprisingly, NO. All looked good initially, starting position was correct, hips didn’t shoot up and drive appeared to come from the legs. What went wrong was, the individual was trying to be ‘a hero’ and deadlift too much, too quickly. The same can be said of squats, bench or any major compound exercises. There are no places for John Wayne wannabies in the gym.

If you’ve ever trained with any power lifter you will have seen that it can take months of training just to add 2.5kg to their lifts. That is because the body needs to adapt to training. Ligaments, tendons, muscles and the nervous system need to become accustomed to the extra stress associated with the extra intensity of adding disks to the bar. New comers to strength training or untrained as we refer to you in S&C circles can be astonished at how quickly progress can be made in the first few weeks. Getting the technique down, lifting the bar and eventually adding disks and watching those numbers rise on the white board. There is no better feeling and I would always be one to encourage athletes to push themselves. However, there is being stupid with a rush of blood to the head and there is being clever, patient and having an understanding that this game is about persistence.

It is impossible to become an athlete over night, all top professionals have trained their whole lives to get where they are, the same is true for us amateurs, we need to understand that this is a long term commitment . Yes every month you spend in the gym you will get that bit stronger and will become a better athlete because of it, however some of us in our head try to go from 2 months strength work to taking on the world record in the squat. You don’t see somebody do a couple of 5km runs then enter a marathon, nor do you see marathon runners go out and try to smash their last time by half an hour in the next race. No, it’s about having patience and taking baby steps to achieving our goals. When training for max strength, make sure it is structured and progress in monthly cycles as opposed to every training session. Your body will best adapt by keeping your  % of 1RM pattern the same for your monthly cycle, then retest and add the kilos accordingly, instead of throwing extra disks on every training session. Your body will then have the time to adapt to the extra stress and your 1RM will increase slowly but surely and more importantly safely.assisting one of my athletes at Irish champs

For many amateur sports people, strength training is a relatively new concept and Strength & Conditioning seem to be buzz words at the moment. It is brilliant that lots of runners, tri-athletes, boxers and rugby, GAA, soccer players etc  are now  finally seeing the benefits of strength training but in this day and age of wanting everything and wanting it now we should remember that if we are serious about becoming better athletes then we are in this for the long run. Strength training is not something that comes in concentrated form like protein shakes, various diets or body transformations, it is a slow but brilliant process and one that when committed to properly with patience will see all of us injured less often and perform to a much higher level.

Work hard and stay committed but at the same time have patience and enjoy the journey.

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