6 Reasons Why Your Training Program is Failing


I am always learning. I find podcasts or articles, even old books from decades ago to see how the "What's old is new" philosophy can help me become a better coach & lifter.

Recently, I have been listening to an interview with Dave Tate & JM Blakley. I will share the video below as it's over 3 hours long. I listen to the interview while driving. And the 1 part that hit home for me was when JM said that we are not all that different. We like to THINK we're so different and that we all need something special, but in truth there is not much difference among us.

That led to Dave asking why 1 program works great for 1 person yet fails for the other person.

JM quickly responded with this......

The program did not fail, the person failed the program. The program has already been proven to work. The person failed.

I have used this similar explanation to the athletes I train because I have seen it MANY times. I've seen athletes begin training together at the same time, they are the same age, same size, etc.

1 of those athletes goes on to gain 12-20 lbs that year and becomes all conference, all state, etc.

The other athlete gains a few lbs, gets a little stronger and overall remains slightly better than average.

Who failed?

Did this athlete need a different program?

Different sets and reps?

Different exercises, etc?

Did the basic, tried and true exercises fail the athlete or did the athlete fail the program?

I have yet to see an athlete who does NOT need Squats, Deads, Push Ups, Pull Ups, Carries, Lunges, Jumps & Sprints. Yet I have seen more than my fair share of athletes who have to do push ups on their knees for months on end.

Why can't he get better at push ups?

Does this athlete need a "Strength Coach" to improve at push ups?


Did his Lack of Desire put road blocks up to stopping him from gaining strength?

If you are willing to listen / watch, I highly recommend this Video with Dave Tate and JM Blakley. I listened as I commuted / drove / walked my dog until finished.

During the video / interview, JM Blakley responds to Dave regarding a training program with this answer: The program did NOT fail athlete. The athlete failed the program.

What this means is that we're NOT all sooooo special and sooooo different where we require some radically different program. The basics will ALWAYS produce. And, usually when someone says the basics don't work for them, what I have seen on a deeper level is that the athlete does NOT love the work.

The basics are often synonymous with HARD WORK. It's easier and Less strenuous to train with fads and gimmicks. It is MUCH, much tougher to follow through day after day, month after month, year after year with the basics.

Here's just some of the variables that stopped the program from working, all of which the athlete can control or can DECIDE to control:

  1. Lack of Desire. It is going to be a struggle to gain size & strength if you're not fired up to get bigger & stronger. If you're training is spent with more time on your phone than you actual train, you are just going through the motions.You can't get stronger that way. Leave the phone in the car. Put some serious fire into your training AND the crucial factors outside of the gym (rest / sleep / nutrition / visualization)
  2. Lack of Consistency. The on again / off again lifter / trainee will have results like a roller coaster ride. Up and down, up and down. Even during your busiest times, if you train 1 x week, that is 100% more than zero.I have athletes training 1 x week in season and is a HUGE difference maker in keeping them confident, healthy, stronger and more explosive, especially as the season comes to an end and the competition has stopped training altogether.
  3. Lack of Effort / Intensity. This is pretty obvious and I can see it a mile away. You're either putting in the work or you're just going through the motions. If you want any substantial gains in strength & size, it will take some serious work.Prepare to push through your comfort zone on the regular.
  4. Lack of Proper / Adequate Nutrition to support Muscle growth & strength gains.Skipping breakfast, eating the school lunch / fast food, relying on sugar loaded "protein powders", etc will NOT lead to gains. You need eggs, steak, fruits, veggies, potatoes. The same way that training with basics leads to results is the way that eating BIG on the basics delivers results as well.

Eat like a bird, lift like a bird, YOU WILL BE A BIRD.

5. Lack of Visualization. Before I even get to the gym, I am preparing mentally the day before. I can see myself squatting and pressing the weights. I've already been under the bar in my mind and so I have been "warming up" 24 hours prior to my training session.

The mind drives the body. You must SEE yourself moving big weights with speed. You must SEE yourself with 20 lbs of added muscle. Visualize it and dream about it.

6. Lack of Obsession - aka, just going through the motions.

I remember LONG ago having a conversation with a middle school athlete, he was 12 or 13 and could NOT perform push ups with his hands on the floor. We did it all; hands elevated push ups, overhead presses, band triceps, DB benching, Band Pull Aparts & Face Pulls, Kneeling Push Ups, Recline Row, etc.

I finally recall telling him, You don't need me or ANY Strength Coach to get better at push ups. Do you know when you'll get better at push ups? When you're TIRED OF BEING WEAK!

I KNOW this because I've been there as a kid. Struggling with push ups until I got PISSED OFF!

I began doing push ups 3 x day (morning, afternoon, night time), every time I added 1 more push up. I started with 2 push ups one night. The next night I was at 6 push ups. By the end of the week I was doing 20 push ups in a row.

I got obsessed! I could literally FEEL myself getting stronger everyday. I was 12 years old.

Until the mind is intensely connected to the training, then the results will NOT come. When the mind becomes deeply connected to the training, then the athlete begins to follow through in the LIFESTYLE aspect of gaining strength, size and overall improving performance.

I know how I felt when I began my obsession. I began to take eating breakfast, lunch and ALL my meals seriously. I began packing 2 sandwiches to lunch rather than one. I began drinking more milk, consistently. I took my sleep seriously. There was a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, every night.

Remember, the mind drives the body. This is why you will ALWAYS see people in the gym who NEVER make gains, even if you've been seeing them for 5 years. If you're not deeply connected to the mind and muscle, then there will be NO muscle / strength gains.

I believe this article will be added to, perhaps via The STRONG Life Insider with a short audio. Stay tuned by getting on my newsletter HERE.

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