Does Your Training Philosophy Align with Your Goals?

August 26, 2016

Hello friends.  We began this series by discussing 4 Practices to Improve Performance and Recover Like a Pro:

1- Mobility Practice

2- Nutrition

3- Functional Biomechanics

4- Training Philosophy

In this article, we delve into creating and maintaining a successful Training Philosophy.

As a doc who has treated just about every single type of athlete over the years I can typically dial back an injury to training protocol errors. We live in a world where the saying of “go big or go home” still takes precedence over educational thought. We love to push the envelop of what is physiologically productive. We love to see that “X” professional is doing this workout so why shouldn’t I do the same. We love to watch the CrossFit Games and then instantly go home and do what they did, rep for rep. The problem is this philosophy or lack thereof is flawed tremendously.

Most athletes in my office fall into the category of Too Much, Too Soon, Too Often and (sorry) Too Stupid. We then typically blame the sport, the gear or that our lifestyle is not appropriate for the activity. Injuries by themselves (take away traumatic injuries like dropping a weight on your head) are just a function of faulty bio-mechanics that are broken from following a plan inappropriately.

The key question then becomes, “ What are your goals for training?” Not your buddies goal, your wife or even your coach’s goal, but what is your goal?

The following is a list of requirements I give patients and potential athletes to help them determine what their goals are.  Knowing this answer will help them find and maintain a successful program. This process can easily cross pollinate into other sports or ventures and will lead you down the road to success instead of injury/burnout.


You are in charge

We live in a world full of so called experts. One can get certified in just about anything these days with a weekend course and no specific background. While I love the options and the variety this is when you need to step up your game. Interview the coach, ask what their training is, talk to members of the box and see if this is a place that fits your needs. If you’re just starting out in CrossFit maybe don’t join the box that is solely focused on comp training. Ask the owner or head coach what their objectives and goals are for members. I know the box I go to has some of the best coaches around.  They know when to scale, understand movements patterns, work with you on your goals, have been to the CrossFit games and their main goal is developing a community approach.

Don’t Rush the Process

Across all spectrum’s the one thing that should not be rushed in training is time. When we start trying to rush results is when you end up in my office. All the systems in the body take time to adapt stress. When you overload connective tissue too fast it doesn’t respond the way you like and it leads to overuse injuries. The training program you undertake has to follow basic physiological principles and when you break those principles you must realize that it’s not the sports fault but the fault of the programming you follow. Time can also be applied to time between sessions. If your course is not familiar with standards of recovery and programs sessions to close together then you are risking roadblocks.

Improve Communication

I always tell my athletes that communication is the key to success. If you’re tired, fatigued, over-trained, injured or anything in that category and you withhold that information from your coach you are setting yourself up for disaster. Your coach doesn’t know how you’re feeling so its your responsibility to speak up.  Communicate goals with your coach and have them help you develop expectations. There are games athletes that sometimes have 3, 4 or 5 coaches at a time. The only way that athlete is going to succeed is communication.

Understand Individual Limitations 

We all get frustrated that we can’t do what the athlete next to us is doing. Why can’t we lift as heavy as the athlete X? Why am I having trouble squatting as much as my wife? Athletes need to step back ask some pointed questions:

How much time am I committing?

Is the programming appropriate for these movements?

Am I injured or do I have faulty movement patterns that stop me getting into a proper position?

What life stress do I have which might be impacting my performance?

While I am a firm believer that one can do anything they put their mind to I also know their are limitations. While I love CrossFit I also love endurance sports and the combination of the two will probably limit my progress to lifting as heavy as someone who puts in the focus. Figure them out and then have a plan that is suitable to your life.

Never stop learning

Learning is essential to everything in life. Once you stop learning you die. Take it upon yourself to learn everything you can about training and movement patterns. When you understand something like joint mechanics then it’s a whole lot easier to understand why you can get into a deep squat. This will also help you have a deeper understanding of what your coach is trying to accomplish. Take the time to understand why you are eating/drinking what you are and it’s effective on your success in sport.

The goal is to never make things so difficult.  Be aware and self reflective as you manage your goals, as they might shift. Refer back to these points if necessary in the future. Take time to ask your coach what else you could be doing to optimize recovery so longevity is your best friend.

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