Tip: Don't Blindly Follow Any Program or Coach

Be the boss, think for yourself, and stop being a doormat. Here's how.

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Don't think for a second that every workout must be done as written, and if you're working with someone in person, realize that trainers aren't all-knowing. They can't tell what's going on inside your body. They can't feel your pain or know your energy level. All they can go off of is the way you move and what you tell them.

So speak up or modify on your own. This advice holds true whether you're following a WOD, an online program, a highly detailed plan from your competition coach, or even when working one-on-one with a specialty trainer.

If something feels off, and you keep going all-out just to follow the instructions or to "feel" hardcore, you risk injury. Push it hard and often enough and you end up with a chronically weakened immune system, which is not super hardcore. Nothing sets you back more than having to work around this crap – especially when you keep getting sick for weeks at a time.

The People Pleaser Problem

People-pleasers want to make trainers and coaches proud. They worry about being perceived as lazy, so they'll aim to push harder, hit more reps, move faster, nail the technique perfectly, and try for heavier and heavier weight, even when they're totally depleted and feel like something isn't right. People-pleasers will strive to be dedicated and stoic when their bodies are falling apart.

If that's you, take a step back and examine your motives. Figure out what's really the most important thing. Is it proving that you're a badass momentarily? Or is it gradually progressing in a way that keeps you in the game for life?

Don't fall for the former. And if you've got a certain personality type, you'll have to practice restraint. Remind yourself not to push your limits every opportunity you get.

Be the Boss

If you're working one-on-one with a hardass who's driving you to go all out, realize that YOU are the boss. You know when you're giving it your all.

You're doing this for personal satisfaction. You're likely not an Olympian. And your job probably doesn't depend on this. So take a little pressure off yourself. Being fit and physically competent under a barbell shouldn't be debilitating. Training ought to make your life better as a whole, not worse.

If you're paying someone to train you, then you can just as easily fire that person. And that coach will respect you more when you tactfully remind him or her of that. Don't be their doormat or their trophy. The coach is working for YOU. So, have those hard conversations without being passive aggressive, and ask for what you need.

There are a lot of excellent trainers who actually want you to improvise on workouts when needed. Find them. They're the kind who trust you to put in the effort, no matter the workout.

If you're already a dedicated and experienced lifter, you likely don't need a militaristic coach to crack the whip. And absolutely nobody needs a patronizing one.