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My one on one coaching experience this year

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  • My one on one coaching experience this year

    At the start of this year I was using Barbell Medicine's competitor group programming, and my training was in trouble. Back in December I had tweaked my back warming up for deadlifts and since then I had tweaked it several times more. Squat and bench were not improving, and my deadlifts were getting *weaker* every week. I had been fully committed to training, completing every prescribed set, all GPP work and eating right, but this was exasperating.

    I knew I needed help, and luckily I had already met Hassan (a Barbell Medicine coach) who lived near me, so I bought the 1 on 1 coaching service with him. We started working together at the end of February. At this point in time, I had been training regularly for about 2 years and my PRs were: squat 305lb, bench 190lb, and deadlift 385lb.

    The programming was similar to other some of the other Barbell Medicine templates, 4 barbell training days per week, with 1-2 GPP days comprising of cardio and pullups, ab and arm work. As I still had lower back pain, Hassan switched my comp deadlift to sumo, and after that I didn't tweak my back again. In the first 12 weeks progress was slow as I had to first recover from my lower back fatigue, which (I guess) lasted another 6 weeks or so. By the end of the 12th week I had put 10lb on my squat and bench and deadlifted 335lb for [email protected], which was a lot better than [email protected] (my last deadlift before starting 1 on 1 coaching).

    I made middling progress for the first 6 weeks of the next cycle, and then my daughter was born. Hassan switched up my programming to a pivot block, with beltless lifts, and then a development block doing high rep sets 6-8 reps. And my lifts took off. In 4 weeks I put (e1RM) 30lb on my squat, 20lb on my bench and 37lb on my deadlift.

    Then I hurt my hip sumo deadlifting. It wasn't terrible but it did make everything harder. Walking out squats from the rack were painful, and I started to favor my strong hip out of the hole. I couldn't sumo deadlift anymore. Fortunately I could conventional deadlift mostly pain free, so we switched back to conventional. It took about 6 weeks for the hip pain to fully recede, but in that time I did set a squat PR of 335lb [email protected]

    By this point I was in the middle of a specialization block and trying to translate my high rep e1RM from the pivot block into heavy singles. Steadily I made progress, in the last 7 weeks of the program, I set a PR in at least one comp lift every week. My final @10 numbers were: 365lb squat, 225lb bench and a 405lb conventional deadlift.

    I also managed to inch out my bench grip through the year; now I can bench with a wide or regular-width grip without shoulder pain, something that has held me back in the past.

    As the year ends I'm wrapping up another development block. I've been having some trouble with my bench numbers, but squat and deadlift are increasing. More importantly I'm pain free. Along the way, working with Hassan I've learned a ton about myself, technique and training in general. I no longer record my GPP work. I don't sweat driving up my numbers on the accessory exercises - I use them for additional fatigue, not for record breaking. I use bar speed to inform how strong I am each day, not how I feel warming up.

    I've put 60lb on my squat, 35lb on my bench and 20lb on my deadlift in 10 months, I'm also 3lb heavier. I'm confident my coach and I will figure out my bench issues, and any other roadblocks that come up. 2020 is going to be an awesome training year.

    I wasn't asked or paid to write this, I just thought it might be interesting to anyone considering 1 on 1 coaching.

  • #2
    Great post! I am at the stage that you describe at the beginning of your post. Can you expound a bit on your statement "I use bar speed to inform how strong I am each day, not how I feel warming up"? I am still having trouble undershooting and overshooting RPE. Overshooting for me is more common, that leads to fatigue, which leads to a back or shoulder tweak.

    Also, your comment about the accessory lifts is interesting. When you say that you aren't sweating driving up the numbers, how do you determine what weight to do?

    I'm definitely planning on getting coached this year.

    Thanks and congrats on your progress.

    Sunil

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    • #3
      Thank you for writing this up! That was very nice of you.

      I hope this post can be helpful for others. There are some very good takeaways here as far as "training etiquette" goes. More so than the progress in hard numbers, developing a coach-athlete relationship like the one you describe here can be key to making the training process more sustainable (and enjoyable) in the long term. It takes time for all of us to develop as lifters and an open line of communication needs to exist for the lifter and coach to be able to work through the inevitable setback or two.

      Some flexibility on both the lifter's part (willingness to take advice, change styles, reframe mental approach, etc.) and the coach's part (willingness to accept feedback and make big changes when necessary) can make training much more effective in the long run vs. just geeking out on the nuts and bolts of programming. This is a +1 for a more developmental coaching approach and not just DTFP (any program), I think.

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      • #4
        hey Sunil,

        > Can you expound a bit on your statement "I use bar speed to inform how strong I am each day, not how I feel warming up"? I am still having trouble undershooting and overshooting RPE.

        Sure thing, for example with deadlifts I often feel some fatigue in my lower back as I warm up. In the past I would psyche myself out, thinking things like "if 275 feels this heavy, 330 is going to be a max effort", or whatever. Relaying this info to Hassan, he told me it's perfectly normal to feel some fatigue, and that doesn't mean I can't perform well during the session. So instead I pay attention to how fast I move the bar, and as long as the bar is moving quickly, I know I have more in me regardless of whether my low back feels tired or not. Often I find what happens is I move up in weight, and it feels no more difficult than the previous warm up set. I'm not measuring bar speed, just eyeballing it.

        > Also, your comment about the accessory lifts is interesting. When you say that you aren't sweating driving up the numbers, how do you determine what weight to do?

        In my program I have three exercise slots. Slots 1 and 2 are usually a competition lift (e.g. squat) and/or a supplemental lift (e.g. touch n go bench). The third slot is an accessory movement (e.g. high rep close-grip incline bench). For the accessory I'll warm up to whatever I lifted the previous week or until it gets sufficiently difficult for the prescribed RPE. The difference is in my mindset: I'll rest 1-2 minutes between sets, I'm not concerned if I do better or worse than last week, I'm just trying to get some additional work in. Often if it's a novel exercise for me I can add weight each week though.

        Hope that helps

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        • AdamP
          AdamP commented
          Editing a comment
          +1 for bar speed being the indicator. I find especially on days that I am not psyched up, everything "feels" heavy. But then I look at a video I record of my lift and it looks easy. Its all such a mental game, but the proof is in how your body demonstrates its abilities. If the bar keeps moving fast, then you clearly have the ability to do it. Just gives a more objective measure of performance.

      • #5
        This is great information. Thanks for the additional insight.

        Happy new year!

        Sunil

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