One of the biggest problems I have experienced in my own training experience has been the inability to stick with a plan long enough to actually see results. I have zero doubt that this has held back my own development in almost unmeasurable ways, and if I could go back five years and simply follow every program as it was written, without any additional “improvement” of my own I definitely would.
When I say not following a training plan as written, the most common mistake is not what you may expect: it is adding more work than is necessary to development. I am perhaps the best example of this of anyone that I have met. During my four years playing soccer at NC State, I was able to experience some of the best strength coaching in the country, with specialized coaches ranging from speed and fitness to strength and power, yet somehow I always seemed to believe I was the most qualified person to evaluate if the program was right for me. Every time I would have a program designed, I would add in extra sets of squats. Extra accessory work. Extra sprints. Extra long distance runs. In my mind, I was reading each program individually instead of how it all works together to create one unified, complete program. On top of this, I have always hated off days so I would normally do additional workouts on most off days. Then I wondered why I seemed more tired than the rest of the team at practice on Monday morning! It was nonsensical, but I believed I was just working hard and trying to improve. It is a lie we all tell ourselves while searching for that little extra that will push us to the top.
The first time I really decided to just go all in was when I moved to Tampa and joined CrossFit 813, and the olympic weightlifting club at the box. I made a commitment that I would follow the programming at the box and simply do what was on the board or prescribed for class. If I felt like it was an easy day (which was rare) I rolled with it and chose to believe that it was designed that way on purpose. For the first time ever, I took the deload weeks as actual deload weeks. Somewhat not surprisingly, all of my plateaus went away. I hit a 10 pound PR on my back squat in only six weeks. My snatch went up 90 pounds in 2 months. Who would have thought that simply doing what your coach says could work so well? I’ve definitely learned my lesson.
It is extremely difficult to trust someone else entirely with your fitness life, as I know all too well. But trust the program. Enjoy the easy days. Crush the hard ones. Fall in love with the process. Results will happen.