When should you change your program?

The difference between training and working out is that training has the long game in mind, it is many single sessions put togther to achieve a certain goal or outcome. While a workout is a bout the here and now, how much can I do right now. There is nothing wrong with working out and it certainly has it’s place although, if you are after long term athletic success you need to be thinking longer term than just a single workout.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.

The quote above couldn’t be more accurate for anyone trying to achieve long term success. “Stay the course”, “Trust the process” are quotes used by coaches to get there athletes to buy into the bigger picture and stay enganged for long periods of time. Although, how long should you wait to see results? How do you know whether the training is working? When is it time to change things up? Fortunately there are answers to these questions.


How long is a peice of string?
How long should you train for before you make a change? This is hard to know 100% and will vary for each persons situation. Unfortunately in sport sometimes we don’t know if something has worked until it’s too late e.g. Pre-season training for 12 weeks, trained really hard and feel confident, then it comes to In-season competition and you get smashed! On the other hand if you don’t give yourself enough time to learn and adapt to new skills, game plays or training programs then you will see little to no changes. If you are consistent with your training and skills then 4 weeks is long enough to see some change. However, it may not be long enough to see your final goal this may take more time. If you do see progress over 4 weeks then this would indicate that your plan is working and you should stay the course. If nothing has changed in that time look for other markers of progress not just the main one, for example if you are trying to lose weight and you’ve initially seen some results but now have plateaued, don’t give up just yet. Look at other measures where progress might be being made such as fitness, sleep quality, appetite regulation, stress levels etc. If you have made progress in other areas, then stay the course, it is still working it just may need a bit more time before you see some change on the scales.


Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), these are the metrics you need to make decisions on whether your achieving or at least heading the right direction. These may be skills related, they may be fitness related, either way they are areas that you have deemed important, and results in these areas will lead to the final desired outcome.


If you ain’t assessing your guessing
Test periodically, testing and assessing your KPI’s at regular intervals is a great strategy to measure progress. This can highlight what is working and what may need tweaking. Again becareful not to over do this or test too frequently you need to give your interventions long enough to yeild results.


If it ain’t broke don’t fix it
Coaches and athletes often get caught up with what’s not working and rarely take a step back and appreciate what is working. If 90% of your training is yeilding the desired results then why not look at WHY that is working so well. You may find you already have the answers to your problems. On the flip side if only 10% of your training is effective you need to look at what you are missing. Assess what you physical and mental preparation is made up of, how much sport specific skill work do you do compared to general fitness work? Runners – Run, Jumpers – Jump, Lifters – Lift, Throwers – Throw, Kickers – Kick, there’s only one way to get better at your sport and that’s to practice – a lot! Sports specific training should make up a large portion of your training (with the exception of off-season training), then you fill the last portion with extra’s that help improve your sports specific training.


Time to make a change

The time to make a change is when you start going backwards. Plateauing doesn’t mean you should do a complete overhaul rather you should change one thing to see if that kicks your progress back into gear. However, if you start see negative effects from your intervetions then it is time to re-assess. Don’t spend too much time here, the longer you spend going backwards the harder it’s going to be to start moving forwards.

If you’ve made a plan you need to give enough time to work, just keep an eye on your KPI’s and if your not making progress or going backwards adjust the plan. Never throw the baby out with the bath water.