Time and Place, Absolutes and Plan B Training


I’ve been training with the goal of qualifying for USA Weightlifting National Championships as a masters athlete (I recently turned 36) and winning a couple masters National Championships before I turn 40. For training today, I used a leg extension machine. Yesterday I did too. Tomorrow I’ll probably do the same. I’ll do some hamstring curls too. For at least the next 9 weeks, my training plan consists almost exclusively of machines except for pullups. No squatting. No Olympic lifting. I’m not joking. Or insane. I haven’t had a total paradigm shift in my training philosophy either. What I have is a pretty bad lisfranc fracture dislocation and I’m unable to do any weight bearing on the injured foot. I injured it a week ago and after a lot of scans to figure out what was going on (it often goes undetected or misdiagnosed) I’m having surgery on Friday. I’ll be in a cast or boot for the next 9 weeks. Even a little pressure on the foot can undo days worth of recovery. That means no squatting, no plyos, no Olympic lifting and not even hopping around on the good foot carrying 45 lb plates to load a bar for upper body lifts because the risk of losing balance and putting pressure on the injured foot isn’t worth it. So I’m getting as creative as possible with exercises so I don’t lose too much of my strength and muscle mass. I bring this up because what I’m doing is about all I can do right now. And despite how much I might normally steer clear of open chain, isolation, machine based movements, situations like this show there’s almost always an appropriate time and place for an exercise or training method. The key is not condemning or excluding an exercise, technique or method…it’s knowing the appropriate time and place to use it. Don’t ever say I would never do _______ because it limits you. Likewise, how can we say that __________ are the best exercise for ________ without also providing the specific circumstances. You should be suspicious of the coach (or person for that matter) who uses never and always too liberally. Absolutes make headlines but rarely work in the real world. Be flexible and have a plan B because plans written in permanent marker are destined for failure. And in my experience, the higher the level of sport you coach, the more you’ll need to have a good plan B.