Lessons From a Spiral Notebook: What Five Years of Programming Has Taught Me

Tucson Gym

Last week I completed a 180 page college ruled notebook full of the last five years of my own programming.  Some pages are covered in coffee, sweat, or blood, others are barely hanging on by a thread. This notebook has been through the ringer. 

It includes experiments and mistakes, things to keep and others to disregard. Cycles of strength and periods of focusing on improving conditioning. Big deadlifts and the eight epic weeks I spent doing nothing but sled drags in the Tucson heat the summer of 2019. 

Many lessons learned through years of hard work. There is value here.

Completing the notebook gave me good reason to reflect.

Top Ten Programming Lessons I’ve Learned

Consistency is more important than any other training variable. 

Not everyday is going to be a great day and that’s the way it should be. When the good days come, enjoy them. Cook when the stove is hot.

Keep work capacity high through general exercises. Some of the best ways to do this are loaded carries, sled drags, and tightening your rest periods. It’s like performing manual labor with progressions and quality mechanics.

Use some variety in training, but varying too much too often will stall progress. 

Prioritize technique, but do not obsess about it. A lot of technical errors come from physical weakness. As strength increases, often times so will technique. 

Olympic lifts are fine, but there are more efficient ways to become powerful. Make sure it’s the right tool for the job.

Traction work for the low back is a must.

Understand that types of strengths are based in speed and not in weight; train accordingly.

Aerobic work and mobility are similar in that you need enough reserve of each to fit your goals, and not much more.

Always come back to the basics. Simplify the program whenever possible.

This week marks the beginning of a new notebook, new goals, new lessons to learn, and another five year journey to get better and stronger. 

Further Reading

Developing a Foundation of Strength in Student Athletes

12 Reasons Why Everyone Should Drag Sleds