In training that is.
I mentioned something similar in my facebook group the other day but I felt it needed more than I could give it in a simple post. I was talking about fitness dogma and that started me down the path of all the mistakes I had in my thinking and mistakes I’ve made as a trainee and a trainer.
At some point, whether as a coach, or as a well-meaning fitness friend, we’ve all been wrong. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and hopefully, I will continue to be wrong about parts of fitness so I can learn.
After nearly 20 years of being in the gym or being an athlete, these are the 5 biggest mistakes I have made and they would have been so easy to avoid.
By far, the biggest mistake I made was believing there was a “right way” and a “wrong way”. There is no one right way in fitness. There’s no perfect diet, no perfect training program. As a young lifter and coach, I was ignorant and struggled to accept the most basic of facts, not everybody has to do it “this way.” Somebody likes 5/3/1, good! Somebody likes Paleo, good! If it’s working, my job is simple. Encourage them to keep going! When they get stuck and the progress stops, that’s when we should offer other options. Dan John said “everything works for a little bit” and I truly believe he is right. The more years I put into working with people, especially beginners and people that have struggled their entire lives, the more I witness the power of negativity. When somebody is trying to get healthy, whether it’s through adding activity or changing their diet their belief and their results matter more than any research. They need support, not some all-knowing jackass zealot telling them “it’s wrong” and “the science says so.”
Getting caught in trends. Lack of patience is the death of any well-designed long-term plan. We live in a society of instant gratification and it’s hard to do something when the result is months (or years) away. Every well-designed marketing play or quick-fix is a temptation to break from the plan. Every slow week or minor setback is another nudge towards the “magic pill” being sold. I’ve been in the same spot as most of you. I jumped programs a lot when I was younger because I wasn’t progressing fast enough. I changed diets because I wasn’t seeing results. Oddly, when I stopped changing and did the entire process, it worked.
Neglecting the basics. I’m not talking about squat, bench, and deadlift. I’m talking about flexibility, mobility, drinking water, and eating food that doesn’t come in cellophane wrap and a list of ingredients Phonics couldn’t teach you to read. As I get older, I realize how many of my lingering issues could have been prevented if I was just consistent in doing what I knew I should do. Nope, I made excuses to not do 5 minutes of work every day. Idiot.
Not listening to the right people. Did you read mistake #1? Well, the piece that goes with it is believing you know so much you don’t need to listen to other people. Learn to listen with intent to learn, not with intent to respond. When you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s the worst mistake to not listen. Even if what’s being presented doesn’t apply to you now, it might apply in a few years. Now go back and re-read #3.
Not finding and using a coach / mentor soon enough. It is amazing how many of us can help others identify and reach their goal. We can help people see passed their own BS and help them fix their mistakes, but when it comes time to work on ourselves, we fail. We struggle to treat ourselves like a client and use the information objectively, like a coach or mentor would do. If the goal is worth the time and effort you’re going to put towards it, it’s worth hiring somebody to keep you going towards it.
These are just the five big mistakes that have made me wiser, but I wish somebody would have told me about when I first started working out for something other than athletic performance.