I’m not usually one for quick decisions. Before making a major decision I like to be pretty certain of the outcome, to have analysed as many variables as possible, and know that I’m committed to the consequences.
So, it took me a while to come to the conclusion that I need a coach. But reach that decision I did.
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in the past four years. From starting off in the spare bedroom with only some plastic weights from Argos and the StrongLifts app for company, to progressing to an Olympic bar plus 170kg in the garage, to stepping onto the platform for the first time in May, my progress has been steady and consistent.
But my first two comps have made me realise something – my own steam will only get me so far, and the level I would rise to is not as high as I wish to achieve. Therefore, something was going to have to change. And therefore I decided I needed a coach.
I don’t struggle for motivation. I’ve consistently trained alone, very early in the morning. It’s often been freezing. Sometimes I haven’t fancied it, but I’ve still been in there and done the work. But I wanted to share three reasons that have contributed to my realisation that now is the time.
A statement of intent
‘What got you here won’t get you there’ is a fantastic book by Marshall Goldsmith. Although that focuses on career it is equally true in my powerlifting journey. I feel as if I’ve achieved as much as I want to (but not as much as I could – I would still make progress, just not as fast) flying solo, and now is the time to push on.
There is a rule of thumb in air navigation called the 1 in 60 rule – for every one degree a plane is off course it misses its destination by one mile for every 60 that it flies. My destination remains constant, I now need to start getting those one degree adjustments to ensure I’m on track to get there. And to get those accurately and consistently I need a coach.
I want to get better. I will get better. And I will get there faster with someone alongside me who can encourage, challenge and guide me to keep me on the right track.
Linked to the above point, a coach will offer me expertise. They will know what those one degree adjustments that are required are for me to hit my goals. I can read up as much as I want on proper squat technique, cues for bench and how to get the best out of deadlift, but, without having spent the years learning how to implement those, which tips are actually worth following, and, definitely most importantly, how to apply them to my own lifting style and physique, I could be wasting a whole lot of time, time that I just don’t have.
And so I’m bringing in that outside expertise. Someone who’s not only there and doing it themselves but has coached others to do the same. Someone that I’m confident will help me replicate the success that they’ve seen in the past.
Not only that, but my coach is already (I’ve just had my first programme through) bringing new levels of specificity to my training. Specific exercises to work on specific identified weaknesses. Exercises that I’d never even heard of. My YouTube has been working overtime! I would never have discovered these if I’d continued with my pattern of ‘if you’re lifting more than last week then you’re winning’.
I know that I may have to strip back, to unlearn, in order to ultimately move forwards, but I’m more confident than ever that moving forward will see me in the place I want to get to.
Getting feedback whilst training alone at 5.50am is difficult! I can post a video up on Instagram or YouTube and get twenty conflicting opinions on what I need to change. I can try and glean bits and pieces of tips and advice from competitions that I enter, but that isn’t going to get me anywhere fast. I can ask friends about their specific experiences of sticking points and recommendations for getting through them.
What coaching offers me is a consistent voice of expertise. One who is in my corner and unafraid to push, challenge and encourage me in equal measure. Who will not only identify the error I made but identify the cause of that error and then give me the tools to iron it out for good, eventually.
That consistent, impartial feedback will be paramount to helping me reach the goals that I have set for myself.
It took me a while to determine I needed a coach. It didn’t take me long at all to determine who that coach should be. But, as I stand on the dawn of a new phase of my powerlifting career, I’m more convinced that ever that I will do what I want to do within this sport, with a supportive and challenging coach at my side.
I’d be really interested to hear other benefits people have found of having a coach in the comments section below.