Success in strength training is a journey of physical and mental transformation and to level up to the elite ranks you must adopt the habits of the elite. I’m going to explore the five key habits of elite lifters that are required to survive the type of training that results in world record performances. So forget your current workout plan and forget about your preconceived notions about training. Let’s dive in to the five habits of advanced lifters.
- THEY EMBRACE THE ART OF BASE BUILDING
Reaching the pinnacle of strength requires being able to distinguish between base building and contest preparation. Not everybody has the desire to compete but everybody needs to have concrete goals and a structure training approach. Since you can’t effectively train for everything at once, and the most specialized athletes in the world have to spend more time doing specialized athlete things, time spent building your foundation has to be scheduled separately.
Optimal training for strength that gets you contest ready, that is the stuff that sharpens your sword and makes it ready for the battle, is essential but it can’t be done year-round.It’s not a question of will or dedication it’s just a simple matter of biology and physics. You need periods to detrain from the beat-down of heavy lifting, you need time to correct weaknesses and you need time to increase muscle mass. Advanced lifters know precisely how to put together these blocks of training and they understand what their mission is within each phase. Being able to expertly navigate these blocks, in addition to being able to stack them together in the correct order and time frame, is essential for the success of an advanced lifter.
2. THEY HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THEIR TRAINING STYLE
Confidence is the foundation of every successful lifte,r not just in your ability to lift but in your ability to plan and execute. You must be intimately comfortable with your chosen style of training, you must know every aspect of it and how to maneuver and work around it.This is a level of mastery that’s only going to be attained through a long period of trial and error. It can be beneficial to experiment with different forms of training early on in your career. But if your goal is to reach the upper echelon of competition, there comes a time when you have to commit wholeheartedly to a specific approach and milk it for all its worth. The structure of your training split, which includes the frequency and which exercises you use along with the methods of progression, should be ingrained in the DNA of your training. By running cycle after cycle, you will know the ins and outs of your program and will leave very little of your training to doubt or chance.
3. THEY BALANCE RECKLESSNESS WITH CAUTION
This may seem paradoxical but it is immensely important. Advanced lifters need to strike a very delicate balance between being too reckless with their desire to improve and being too cautious with their recovery and injury prevention. While listening to your body and avoiding over training can seem like the best course of action, the reality is that you need to push at times when your body is telling you otherwise. Many Elite lifters would not have amounted to much if they didn’t push through pain or if they only trained when the mood struck them
On the other hand, there’s a limit to how far you can push without consequences. There is always a red line that has to be obeyed and those who continuously ignore it will eventually pay the price. When you are pushing your training sessions to get as much out of each block as you can before you move on to the next, you will often have to question whether or not the pain you feel migrating around your body is injury or just simply “hurt”. If you look at the best performers of all time, you won’t find people that are just cautious or just Rreckless but you will find people who have blended elements of both into a training approach that accomodates what their body can handle.
4. THEY KNOW THEIR TIME TO PEAK
Training gets much more nuanced as you become stronger. Balancing the needs of a 900 lb squatter isn’t remotely the same to balancing the needs of somebody who squats two-and-a-quarter. Less developed lifters can train hard with high frequency and they can put out high efforts over and over, multiple times throughout the week. But advanced lifters deal with a heavier systemic stress because each repetition carries such a devastating impacting. So, stronger lifters need to understand their time to peak; that is, how long can they engage in the same effort before progress stops or even regresses. Can you repeat a maximum effort lift after 7 Days of rest? Do you need longer to recover? How many weeks in a row can you repeat it? These are all questions an advanced lifters can answer without a second thought and is integral to mapping out their competitive plan. Your job should be able to do the same. Know what your tolerance to work is and how long you can sustain it will put you one step closer to being able to run through Elite Level Training plans.
5. THEY ADAPT AND OVERCOME
Setbacks are an inherent part of lifting and advanced lifters are able to tackle these obstacles head on. Whether it’s a plateau, an injury or some psychological block, the thought of giving up never enters into their mental space; they start with the assumption that the problem can be solved and they use whatever resources and creativity they have at their disposal to find a solution. This can include seeking advice from experts, adjusting their training program or modifying their exercise selection or technique. There are always alternatives to be explored when what you were used to doing stops working. Champions are not defined by what they did on a good day they are defined by what they did on the worst day. Embrace the mindset of resilience and you will absolutely surprise yourself with your ability to find creative solutions to problems you previously thought could not be overcome.