5 Things to Tell Your Coach

There are some things that are important information for your coach that you need to tell them.  And yes, there is such a thing as too much information.  And yes, there is such a thing as whining or making excuses.  A positive, 'can do' attitude is essential for making progress in weightlifting and in powerlifting.  However, there are important things that your coach needs to know so they can either 1) tell you to go home, or 2) modify your programming. 

NUMBER 1: I did not sleep last night. 

Sleep leads to gains, and lack of sleep leads to lack of gains.  The restorative powers of REM sleep is a must, and with out it we are slowing our progress as a lifter or even reversing progress.  High level athletes will sleep up to 10 hours a day.  Donovan Ford, while training at the Olympic Training Center for weightlifting, reported over 10 hours of sleep at night AND a nap.  Actually, he said he was bad at naps, but was programmed a nap on days where he trained double sessions.  Yes, he was ordered to nap. 

Now, most of us are not paid to lift. OK, all of us are not paid to lift.  And 10 hours of sleep might be out of the question.  BUT if we get less than 7+ hours of sleep we need to cut volume from our training.  Simply put, we can not train at the level we may want to or is programmed.  Your coach assumes that you are getting the minimum amount of sleep a night and that the quality of that sleep is good.  If that is not the case, YOU NEED TO TELL YOUR COACH.

NUMBER 2: I eat poorly.

Sleep and nutrition happens outside of the gym and are the two best things you can do to make progress in lifting.  These are also the things that are largely done on your own, and can really screw up your hard work in the gym.  Plenty of lifters come in and complain about the volume or about feeling tired.  I ask when was the last time they ate, often in the morning they say they have not.  In the evening they say lunch time.  THIS IS EATING POORLY.

Your body needs fuel to go, and if it doesn't derive it from food it will peel it off from your muscles.  As you know, weightlifting and powerlifting are not aerobic sports.  We don't use a lot of oxygen to hit our 1 rep maxes.  Instead we use anaerobic sources of energy.  For our short and intense efforts we use the phosphagen/creative pathway.  This leads to the production of energy within our muscles from substrates locally found.  The other source is the glycolytic pathway, which creates energy from the breaking down of glycogen.  Without this source of energy multiple reps and multiple sets feel like hell.   

When we train it is important to make sure we have an adequate source of glycogen, and the easiest way to make sure we do is to digest carbs.  Carbs are quick sources of energy and if not used, are stored as fat.  Carbs are a great way to give yourself fuel for your work outs. 

HOWEVER, digestion does become a problem for most people if they eat too close to a work out.  When you eat blood is directed away from your muscles and aids in the digestive process.  This means we need to be conscious of how close to our work outs we are when we eat.  Two hours before a work out is ideal, and the closer we get to a work out the more the meal should be smaller and more liquid.  Liquid carbs are easier to digest and hit the blood stream faster than solid foods.  

Now work outs will lead to muscles breaking down and we want those muscles to be built up bigger and stronger.  Protein is essential in this process.  To guarantee that the end result of the breaking down of muscles and the building up of muscles is ultimately positive, it is important to make sure that we digest proteins before and after our work outs.  With out this, you can lose your gains, bro.   

Ultimately, some sort of measuring and weighing your foods is essential to guarantee gains.  You want to know what you are putting in your body and how it impacts your training.  Every athlete is different in regards to their dietary needs, but every athlete can benefit from measuring the amounts of protein, carbs, and fats they take in to their body and at what times.  Keep a food journal along with your work out journal.  A general rule of thumb is roughly 1.8 grams of protein/kg of body weight (if you are cutting increase the protein) and 5 to 6 grams of carbs/kg of body weight (carbs can be added on training days and decreased on non-training days).  Fat can be utilized to add or subtract calories and help with gaining or cutting.  There can be a lot more written here, but suffice to say, eat when you train and know what you are eating.  If you eat poorly, tell your coach.

NUMBER 3: I hurt, a lot.

When you train hard, things will hurt.  For new lifters it becomes hard to distinguish a real issue from the normal, run of the mill, pain.  This is also hard for the coach too.  A coach can never say, ignore that pain and just lift.  There is liability issues, but also because the coach simply does not know. Now a coach does not want to hear about every ache and every pain.  We don't care. BUT we do care about an ache and pain that does not go away with a proper warm up or gets worse when you warm up.  This could be an indication that you are either not recovering well, the volume is too high, or exercise selection needs to be modified.  

Please tell your coach if this is you.  While it is admirable to stoically suffer, it does not make you a better lifter to become injured.  Progress is made by serious lifting that is injury free, OR if an injury does occur, to have progress made in areas that do not worsen the injury.

NUMBER 4: I am always tired, or I am sick.

Being tired for one work out happens.  Sometimes the volume of the week is high and your coach is trying to beat you up a little.  However, if you are consistently tired over a period of two weeks and lacking enthusiasm for training, TELL YOUR COACH.  This may be a sign of over training.  Over training will reverse your gains and will hurt your progress as an athlete.  Your coach can help to reduce volume to avoid over training.  The process of getting better is through planned periods of over doing it (called over reaching) and planned recovery from over doing it.  Prolonged periods of over doing it, means no recovery and no gains. 

And if you are sick, don't train.  Training will reduce your immune system and make it more susceptible to the sickness you are fighting.  You will lose more training days than if you just skipped the one you needed to recover.  When you return after being sick, ask your coach to reduce your volume to get you back up to fighting shape. 

Oh, and please wash your hands.

NUMBER 5: I got dumped.

While your coach doesn't need to know whose fault it was or the details of that big work assignment, it is helpful to know the stresses you face outside of the training hall.  Lifting is a stress, and we want it to be a good stress that you can recover and get stronger from.  If you are facing tough stresses at home or at work, your ability to recover from training stresses are reduced.  While the mental benefits are obvious for anyone who lifts, maybe if you are dealing with a messy break up we should cut down the volume cycle on your squat.