t’s often the case that some of the most pivotal moments that shape who we are and how we view things come and go without us even realising the long-term impact of these moments.
One of the most significant experiences in the early days of my personal training career was the time spent undertaking a series of short further-development courses where my entire perspective towards lifting weights was turned on its head.
Up until that time, I’d spent over 12 years training in the gym (including a short period of part-time Personal Training) before being introduced to Tony Boutagy, and at the ripe old age of 25, I thought I knew all I needed to know about lifting – boy, was I in for a wakeup call!
Although the approach to Tony’s courses were simple, with an evidenced-based methodology he completely shifted 3 of my fundamental understandings of best practices for training. These included: what I knew good technique to be, my personal view on how programming should be created and why it’s so important to categorise exercises based on the movement performed and associated joints used, rather than specifying exercises based strictly on the muscles involved – simple changes which to this day have stood as the most impactful lessons in all my years spent in the gym.
It didn’t sink in right away but I’d been shown the light of proper training methods and programming with an overall perspective shift towards lifting, which set me on the path that I find myself on today. I went from religiously training the same dried up “bro split” programming method, to viewing exercises through a biomechanical lens, which led me to discover the single most important component to continual lifting progress – flawless technique.
Focusing so strongly on technique sounds pretty obvious, but up until that point I’d been sold the idea (from countless media publications and the big guys in the gym) that it was all about how much weight you could lift – and technique played second fiddle to overall load. Having my view towards technique stripped back to the bare bones of the biomechanical relationship between associated joints in a given movement, allowed my focus when performing (or coaching) to be simplified, whilst still being held to the highest possible standard.
My thoughts of what a “good” repetition looked like became increasingly critical as I started to understand the integral part efficiency plays in every repetition you perform, the exercises you choose and the way in which those exercises are placed together in a given program. From the very first warm up set to the heaviest load you can shift, how efficient you go about your movement will determine the ceiling of your potential results. This isn’t something you can put a number on. It’s not tangible - BUT you can guarantee that if you’re moving inefficiently (even at very light loads) you will be negatively impacting your top-end potential, either by creating unnecessary fatigue or reinforcing a sub-par movement pattern.
This deeper understanding and respect for what I was doing in the gym has helped create the person I am today and I couldn’t be more appreciative of Tony’s personal methods of retraining my dogmatic views and encouraging me to remain humble and instil an educated foundation of training principles.
Repetition performing any physical feat does not automatically provide you with advanced status – a message I learned first hand and now pass on to prospective clients that come to me asking for their training to be taken “to the next level.” Advanced methods are earned by the quality of your training experience, not simply how long you’ve been training.
Building experience in the gym is a major component in achieving your health and fitness goals but without fundamental knowledge and understanding as to what you’re actually doing, you’ll be spending a lot more time wondering why the training methods you’ve been applying for years just don’t seem to cut it anymore and achieving continual progression will remain an allusive unicorn.
I’m using my own awakening experience to hopefully sway you away from the dogmatic methodologies so many people find themselves stuck in. I’m a big believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but just because you’ve been doing something for long enough that it’s become habitual and still reaps a level of benefit, doesn’t mean there isn’t a more efficient or newly discovered way to see your hard work more richly rewarded.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, investing in continued education is THE most vital component to achieve essentially limitless progression and help remove the ceiling of potential you don’t even realise exists - placed there by your current methodology.
To find out more about Tony Boutagy's courses, click here.
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