Overcoming Dips in Training Performance
The old mantra of “strike while the iron is hot” is appealing to many lifters, as after all, the main goal is to lift as much weight as we possibly can. But what happens when the “iron is cold” and everything about our existence comes crashing down around us? In this article I want to summarise my views on what to focus on when you’re “just having one of those days”.
Whether we like it or not, some days the weights just don’t move like we want them or expect them to. A weight that we hit last week all of a sudden feels heavy, slow and disjointed. In that moment we start to question everything about our training and it can leave us feeling demotivated, stressed and upset.
Here are 5 simple steps that will help you get through these days and keep you on the path to success:
- Understand that progress isn’t linear. Being able to come to terms with the fact that there will be ups and downs during training is crucial. So long as the general trend for our lifts is going up then minor fluctuations along this journey are to be expected.
- Have a coach. A coach should offer more than just a programme. Your relationship should allow for conversations to be had that both encourage and reassure you as an athlete when things don’t feel like they are going the way you want/expect. Your coach will be able to listen to your concerns and either reassure you that these fluctuations in performance are expected and/or make informed adjustments to your training programme if deemed necessary.
- Use an auto-regulated training programme. The best thing about autoregulation is that it allows you to make on-the-day training decisions based on how you feel. If you aren’t feeling particularly great then you can lower the weight (approx. 5%) and still feel confident that you are executing the programme with the intended intensity.
- Complete the session. The urge to throw in the towel as soon as things aren’t going your way will be very high. DO NOT DO THIS. Make the necessary adjustments to your weights to match the RPE (or whichever method of autoregulation you may be using) and continue with the session. You will feel much better having completed the work instead of going home, defeated, and potentially throwing the rest of your training schedule out of sync.
- There is more to life than lifting a barbell. This is probably the most important of all these steps. For most of you, lifting weights is something you do in your spare time for enjoyment, to release built-up stress, to socialize with friends etc etc. The days you feel like everything is a little bit heavier than it should be, remember why you started lifting weights in the first place – for fun! Embrace the journey and focus on encouraging your training partners and creating a positive training environment.
Dan Edwards, Coach
Desert Barbell Sports Club