In case you missed them, here are parts one and two of my "26 Training Lessons from 26 Years" series.
13. Shut Up and Listen
I have been called a chatterbox, longwinded, and an annoying jackass who doesn't shut up (among other things). It's true - I enjoy talking and feel I can have a conversation with nearly anyone I share a language with, but at times it has been detrimental to my career as an athlete and now as a coach. When I was an athlete, I was certain I knew more than enough and could succeed on my own. It wasn't until I learned to listen to my coaches that I began to truly succeed and my performance improved. As a coach, I have been fortunate to learn from some great mentors in the field. I never would have learned anything from them if I was doing all the talking - it's not about showing off how much you know, it's about taking in as much as you can.
14. You Don't Know a Damn Thing
Going off of number 13 above, it's unfathomable how much information is out there in strength and conditioning alone, never mind other related fields such as physical therapy, athletic training, etc. I have my methods and training preferences, but they are changing every year when new research comes out or I've added a few new wrinkles to my program. With that said, I trust my abilities as a coach to stay up to date with techniques and research, as well as rely on my support network of coaches, athletic trainers, and therapists to provide the best coaching I can for my athletes. Strength and conditioning is one of those professions everyone seems to think they can do, thanks to an occurrence called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I like to relate it to an athlete telling an athletic trainer what their injury is and the form of treatment they need or a patient looking up their symptoms online and telling the doctor what medicine they need. If you are going to a professional, let them do their job - I wouldn't be half the coach I am today if I stayed convinced I knew everything as an athlete.
15. Don't Overlook Recovery Work
I touched on this with #5 - Plan Recovery into your Programs, but recovery work is not given enough attention. Training for an hour a day still leaves 23 hours remaining, this is when gains are made. Your training program is the spark of a match whereas the recovery is the wood and coal that actually burns. Individually, they aren't useful at producing results, but when properly combined you can have a successful training career. Self-myofascial release, hot tubs, flexibility/mobility work, nutrition, sleep, and recovery aids like the EDGE Mobility Bands can help improve results by assisting with recovery from training.
16. Learn to Cook
I was fortunate enough to go to college away from my parents and began living on my own before assuming all of the responsibilities of adulthood. This gave me a few years of practice taking care of things around the house, paying bills, and most importantly, cooking. I am far from an elite chef, but after spending two years as a college student working in a restaurant and preparing my own meals for years, I can cook up my meals for the week without eliciting a gag reflex. For students, being able to cook for yourself will help you eat clean and healthy (aiding in recovery, as mentioned above) and save you money. Learn how to use a grill, oven, stove, and how to cook meat/vegetables properly - pink in a steak is fine, pink in a chicken breast is not - and you'll be less likely to be stuffing your face with deep fried crap from a fast food restaurant when you're hungry.
17. Make Every Rep Count
It's easy to get distracted in the gym - cute girl on the treadmill, your teammate cracking jokes, the song playing on the stereo... - but it's important to block all of that out when it's time to do work. If you're going to have a conversation, use your rest time. As soon as you approach the bar, lock yourself in on the task at hand and focus on getting the most from each rep. A wasted rep or set can never be gained back - have a reason for everything you do and be able to focus exclusively on that goal while training. Don't let distractions ruin your training because you can't block them out for thirty seconds.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES