Bouncing Back From Injury

As an athlete, being banged up and injured sucks. There are fewer things that are more frustrating. It tests your resiliency and makes you question your desire and passion to forge forward. While your teammates and competitors train and get better, you are sitting around seemingly with your thumb up your butt feeling helpless, frustrated, and sorry for yourself.

How you respond and come back from an injury setback will say a lot about who you are as a person. Here are 5 ways to help you successfully bounce back from injury:

  1. Roll with the punches.

Over the course of your recovery, you will go through a roller coaster of positive and negative emotions. The key is to keep things in perspective and roll with the punches.

There will be positive moments where you feel better enough to tempt jumping right back into the swing of things. More often than not, however, our excitement to get back into training leads to a re-aggravation or worsening of the original injury. Be patient and disciplined.

The most pronounced swings are the downs that come with missing or cutting back on training. This can take a huge toll on your motivation and can lead ignoring much needed prehab/rehab work because you feel hopeless and depressed. Don’t ignore it! This is an opportunity to practice your discipline of doing the “boring” things regardless of how you feel emotionally. It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re in a good mental state, but what separates the great from the good is the ability to stay motivated regardless of the circumstances.

Do your best to keep an even keel over the course of your recovery through both the highs and the lows so that you can get back to the platform in a timely manner.

  1. What you do outside of the gym and the therapist office is just as important.

Be intelligent about the lifestyle decisions you are making outside of your rehab work so that you can facilitate a faster recovery. Ask yourself: “Am I putting myself in the best position to succeed and recover the fastest?”

Things like sleep, nutrition, “extra-curricular” activities on the weekends, will all assist in determining how fast you heal up, or not.

  1. Be determined to come back even stronger.

Injuries happen to everyone, even the best.

How you decide to deal with and come back from your injury is very important. Whatever you do, DO NOT take a “do nothing” approach by sitting on your ass doing nothing and living a life of seclusion from your team. Take an active approach to your recovery and stay involved with your team and teammates. Lean on your teammates to help you get through the recovery process, especially emotionally.

Often times, injuries allow you the time to work on other weakness, both technical and muscular, that you might not have focused on if you were “healthy”. Use this time to get better! You can ALWAYS work on something.

There are countless anecdotes of athletes that always come back stronger post injury. Part of it is the desire and determination to achieve more and stay involved, while the other part is being able to take a step back and work on “weaknesses”.

  1. Inform yourself.

Probably the surest way to insure that you don’t re-injure yourself in the same manner is to educate yourself on your specific injury. Pepper your therapist and/or doctor with questions to get a clear a grasp on what happened. Once you know what the mechanism of injury was, you are more likely to seek out preventative measures in the future.

At the end of the day, it is your body so it would behoove you to educate yourself on how it works, and also how it breaks down.

  1. Take a “never again” approach.

In the event of an injury, your coach, physical therapist and/or doctor should provide a prehab/rehab routine. These are helpful especially in the case of overuse injuries, and should be continued long after the injury has fully healed up.

The only thing possibly more frustrating than getting injured is knowing that you had the tools and mechanisms to prevent it, and didn’t use it. Make prehab/rehab a part of your daily training routine moving forward, and you will decrease the likelihood of that injury becoming chronic.

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Are You Willing to Do What is Necessary to Achieve Success?

The first few days and weeks of a new training cycle can be incredibly motivating as an athlete sets him/herself on a path towards a new goal. On one hand, the athlete has a restored passion and powerful new sense of direction. But what happens during the middle of a training cycle when he’s hitting the overreaching stage and feeling beat up, tired, and even possibly banged up?

Here’s a hard reality of success that doesn’t get enough attention: No matter how big your goals, the process will suck at various stages and make you question your drive and your “why.”

Understanding this reality and rising above these hurdles of adversity will demonstrate how willing you are to handle the tough patches and setbacks that inevitably arise.

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS IS NOT COMFORTABLE

Big time success requires sacrifice. Don’t buy into this myth that you can have your cake and eat it too. Anything worth achieving comes with a corresponding amount of sacrifice and even hardship.

Generally speaking the bigger the goals, the harder you will have to work, the more you will sacrifice, and the more uncomfortable the road will be. You must become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable if you expect to achieve greatness in anything.

Whatever your goals are, from hitting PR’s at a local meet, to qualifying for the National Championships or even competing at the World Championship or Olympic level, are you putting yourself in the best position to succeed and maximize your potential? Unfortunately, the honest answer to that questions is no because most are not willing to sacrifice comfort.

DEFINING WHAT SACRIFICE IS – AND ISN’T

Sacrifice doesn’t mean giving up something for nothing, even though some of the closest people in your lives that don’t truly “get it” think you are.

If anything, it is the OPPOSITE. You are giving up one thing (actually a lot of things) in order to gain something GREATER.

The hard part about sacrifice is giving up the short-term pleasure of something (staying out late with friends when you have a heavy training session the next day) for the long term pleasure of something else (qualifying for Nationals, winning a medal at Nationals or the American Open, competing at Pan Ams/World Championships/Olympics, or winning an medal at an international competition). Those that are willing to achieve greatness willingly accept this give and take.

Everybody wants to be a champion until they really wrap their arms around what it really requires. They can’t imagine themselves being comfortable with the sacrifices needed to lift to the outer reaches of their ability.

And you know what? That’s okay! In fact, it’s normal. Being successful and achieving your true potential on the platform is uncommon . It’s unconventional, and it requires going against the culturally accepted norms. But that’s what makes champions unique, rare, and special. Their ability to sacrifice what most aren’t willing to sacrifice.

WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE?

Instead of listing the things you have to do to achieve your goals, write out the list of things that you are willing to endure, to suffer, and to sacrifice in order to attack your goals head on:

  • Will do what is necessary to properly gain, maintain, or lose weight depending on your situation?
  • Will you show up and train hard even when you feel tired and beat up?
  • Will you adjust your “life” schedule to accommodate your training schedule as a priority?
  • Will you spend extra time and in some cases money inside and outside of the gym to make sure you are recovering properly (stretching/mobility/massage/sports med/etc.) if it means recovering faster and performing better?
  • Will you pass on a night out with your friends or family because you have an important training session the next day?
  • Will you give up watching TV mid-week so that you can get your schoolwork done and get the sleep you need to recover?
  • Will you give up temporary comfort to gain permanent success?

It’s easy to say what we are willing to do to achieve our goals, but take it a step further and think about what you are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals. Consider the questions above, reflect on the answers, and ask yourself if you are truly prepared to do what is necessary to achieve greatness on the platform.

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How to Build a Sustainable Training Template

Previously, I touched on the importance of creating a “Daily Map” to help provide structure and mental preparation road map of the weekly training. In order to do that, however, it helps to have a sustainable training template to guide you and or your athletes.

While training should be individualized to the specific needs of an athlete, a template provides you with a road map that can be easily interchangeable between athletes based on their individual needs and/or competition schedule.

This training template will allow you to account for specific athlete needs and training focuses and meso cycles.

When designing a training program during a prep phase, it’s important to have a one lift, or unidirectional, focus per day, i.e. one day is snatch related, another day is clean related, overhead related, etc. etc.

This is because a strong unidirectional daily training stimulus will not only create a strong endocrine response, but you have a more potent dose of training similar motor qualities, which is very important both in terms of learning for beginner and intermediate athletes and in terms of improving the efficiency of the CNS for more advanced athletes.

So here’s a breakdown of what a 6 day training program looks like for the DELTA Weightlifting Competitive Team:

Sustainable Training Template

Regardless if the meso cycle focus is blocks, hang, deficit, floor, this template provides a sustainable road map to plug and chug the meso cycle focus and desired training effect.

Whether you use this exact template, or make tweaks to better suit you or your athlete’s needs and training schedule, having a roadmap like this will put you and your athletes in a much better position to succeed in the future.

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How To Stay Motivated to Train in the Sport of Weightlifting

Staying motivated can be very challenging in a sport like weightlifting where you are more or less doing the same thing day in and day out for hours on end for only 6 attempts on the platform every so often.

The assumption is that elite weightlifters wake up fired up, ready to go, 24/7. What many weightlifters, or aspiring weightlifters, don’t realize is that they suffer from the same motivational lapses as the rest. They also have those mornings when the last thing they want to do is roll out of bed. In other words, what you are experiencing is not weird. It’s probably the status quo.

What differentiates the elite from the rest of the pack is that in the face of fatigue, soreness, and lack of motivation they still find a way to make it to the gym and impose their will on the barbell. They are resilient and gritty and are able to push through the mental doldrums of training at a high level.

Here are 6 ways to re-center yourself and reignite your inner drive:

1) Practice discipline – motivation can be a fickle thing. Lapses in motivation are normal and nothing is wrong with you, but having good discipline will allow you to train even when you don’t feel like it. Every athlete, beginner or elite, goes through these motivational gullies. It is what you do to deal with them that will set you apart. Maintaining discipline is where you build resiliency and grit.

2) Watch a couple weightlifting videos of triumph.For a quick motivational jolt, there are fewer things better than watching some of the great moments from our sport. Here’s my favorite:

3) Rest and recover.The accumulated fatigue of training can wear you down physically and emotionally. When you are utterly exhausted, sleep, rest and recovery must become your primary focus. If you get to this point, communication with your coach is very important. Training should be adjusted or scrapped all together if it is concluded that taking the day off is the best solution. Additionally, It’s amazing what a good solid night’s sleep will do for you. It will not only help regenerate your body, but more importantly, provide mental clarity and focus once again.

4) Revisit and take stock of your goals.Often weightlifters get demotivated when they have veered off the path towards their goals. This is very common during the hardest most dreadful phase of training when volume is high, intensity is moderate to heavy at times, and competition time is still very far away.  Sit down with your goals for a few minutes. Make adjustments based on where you stand with your training right now, and where you would like to be moving forward. Reflection and adjusting is a crucial part of re-centering yourself and pushing through adversity.

5) Pick one thing to demolish today.On your way to the gym, pick one thing you are going to focus on, and forget everything else. It could be a particular lift, or exercise, or a specific adjustment to your technique. When you remove distractions, and focus your thoughts and energy on doing one thing spectacularly well, you’ll find that it has the curious side effect of spilling over into the rest of your training.

6) Take Action.One of the easiest ways to sap your motivation is to procrastinate. To wait. To sit around, hoping, wishing. Take action. Action builds momentum and gets you on the path to achieving results, which in turn helps fuel the motivational fire. So do something, anything, immediately and get rolling towards excellence.

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The Daily Map

Photo Credit: LiftingLife

Structure provides stability, repeatable habits, and focus. Week in and week out, each day of training for our team has a consistent theme or focus. From this structure, we have outlined our “Daily Map” for the weeks training.

The idea behind creating this Daily Map is to provide our competitive athletes with a map of what the weekly and daily focus will be, and to empower our athletes to take ownership of their preparation and focus from day to day.

After first learning about the concept of the “Daily Map” from a book about the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team, I began to apply the map specifically to fit our structure of training with our competitive athletes.  Take a look at ours here: The Daily Map.

This “living document” helps to provide structure, organize fresh goals, and evaluate existing goals.  Through this reflection and preparation, our athletes learn new skills so they can push themselves harder and become more capable and achieve more.  Empowerment.

With a Daily Map, you can optimally prepare and put yourself in the best position to succeed OUTSIDE of the gym, so you can maximize what you are trying to accomplish INSIDE the gym.

If you are able to improve many small things outside of the gym by just 1%, that marginal improvement in your mind, body and soul will lead to exceptional improvement over time.

Strive for excellence and compete everyday.

 

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