Almost no one jumps into a program as diverse as ours as an “advanced student,” professional athletes included. There are often just too many skills to walk in Day 1 and have it all down. Former NCAA Division I athletes that know their way around a barbell may have strength and conditioning, but may be new to gymnastics elements, for example.
Since we are all on a path to elite fitness, the idea is to improve. In our world, where you’re at carries much less weight than where you’re going. So that being said, no one wants to stay a “beginner” forever. Here are five ways to advance your training beyond that of a beginner:
- Mobility. Regardless of strength or desire, most beginners simply cannot achieve necessary body positions for functional movement. For example, if one cannot hold a wood dowel in the bottom of an overhead squat, he/she surely won’t be able to hold a loaded barbell overhead in a squat, snatch, or otherwise. Achieving complete range of motion in critical joints can either be a glass ceiling on performance or an open door to a fitness breakthrough.
- Finding the Red Zone. Advanced athletes have dashboard-like understanding of their bodies during performance. With experience, they’ve tested their output to know how much they can hit the gas and when they need to throttle down. There’s a huge adaptation in training that comes from an ability to maintain intensity. Many beginners will conserve their efforts due to inexperience in “the pain cave,” or the dare devilish one’s will go too far and have to stop because of nausea, injury, or otherwise. Pay close attention to the advanced athletes after workouts. Often times they look the most affected by the training as they’re writhing on the ground. If some workouts don’t feel as “hard” as others, then there may be room to push your effort. Advanced athletes find a way to make them all “hard.”
- Being Open to Failure. The best way to stay the same is to avoid change. Simple enough? As beginners learn movements and gain experience in training, it’s important to force themselves to grow. Fifty workouts with a 26 pound kettlebell doesn’t graduate an athlete to training with 35 pounds. Athletes must graduate themselves to advanced weights, even if that means slower times, (safe but) failed reps, and a whole lot of unknowns.
- Hunt Efficiency. As a coach, I often catch myself wishing students came to us with no strength whatsoever. When skills trump bad habits and brute strength, an ability to cut corners with strength often impedes the learning process when it comes to skills that support efficiency. Advanced athletes have given up “their way” and have sign up for the efficiency, nothing more. Stubborn beginners that can muscle snatch 65 pounds will only move as much weight as they can reverse curl and press. This isn’t ideal but it works if you’re a beginner. To be advanced, however, will take some letting go.
- Nutrition. To be honest, I can’t look myself in the mirror writing this one last. But, these aren’t in any order. The point is you cannot out train poor nutrition. Period. The fuel you choose to put in your body is more than half of what training is about. If you plan on advancing your fitness, I’d tell you to start with your nutrition 100 times out of 100.
Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes complete:
Odd: 5 Hang Squat Cleans
Even: 5 Push Ups