Photo Credit: Big thanks to the awesome Lisa Hepfer

Before You Get Started…

This page describes some of the assumptions and priorities behind how we design our training program.

These Are The Things We Assume About You

Assumption 1: You are injury free when you arrive

In order for us to design a training program, we need to be able to assume that an athlete does not have an existing injury that will be made worse by doing the training.

Now, I know from experience that the majority of the people reading this are living with pain or decreased range of movement due to past injury and yet you are telling yourself that it's no big deal or you're so accustomed to it that you think it's normal. It's amazing how many people just live with muscle or joint pain. If you're that person and you're wondering if coming to a gym like this will help, you need to know two things:

There is an order to these things.

The best thing you can do is rebuild the strength and mobility you've lost by following an exercise program designed around your specific needs. Your specific needs can be determined through a variety of tests performed by a physical therapist. We know lots of great PT's in the city, and we also have a great PT available in the gym. Email to set up a free screening.

Please. Listen to me. No amount being tough or working through it is going to help you. Get the help you need.

Assumption 2: You are responsible for your own health and progress

Our goal is not to make you dependent on us. We want you to be active and engaged in your own progress.

It's your body, you're in charge. If you don't feel right about doing something, then don't do it. Let the coach know and we'll find something else for you. We're really good at this, it's what we're here for. We will often include suggested weights in a workout, these represent our baseline performance level that we want everybody to be able to do. But these numbers are not divinely inspired, not everyone will or even should do the prescribed weight. There is enough variation between people that no standard is universal. We will help you determine your training weights.

You know your body better than any coach, if you feel a strain or get some sort of signal from your body that tells you something is wrong, you need to listen to it. Most injuries happen when an athlete ignores these signals . People will commonly look back at a moment of injury and acknowledge that they were doing something stupid. It's very common, I've done it myself. But ultimately, it's your body, you're responsible for it.

Likewise, you're responsible for your own progress. That means you have to do the things outside of the gym like sleep, eat, and rest that enable your progress. We can guide you along the way, but it's your choices in the kitchen or when to go to bed that will influence what sort of progress you can make. Managing sleep, food, and stress all matter at least as much as exercise.

Assumption 3: You will keep a record of your progress

This goes along with Assumption 2. In order to follow the program, you'll need to keep a record somewhere of weights for certain lifts. You can keep it in a notebook at the gym or on a phone. Here is what you'll need to track: Back Squat, Front Squat, Zercher Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Press, Jerk, Power Clean, Power Snatch. You don't have to come in knowing what those are, just that when they appear in the program, you'll track that information somewhere so that when they reappear later you'll be able to reference your notes.

Assumption 4: You'll need to commit extra time to get better at some things

Some movements just take more time and practice to get good at than we are able to dedicate to them in classes. Pull-ups and handstands are good examples, they take a lot of time and repetition. If you want to get better at those things, you'll need to come early, stay late, or do extra work on your own. We can help you with that.

Priorities are the value judgments we need to make in order to lead an effective program.

Priority 1: What you need over what you want

This is the ever-present issue for us: balancing what people want versus what we think is best for them.

Some people love running, some people hate it. Some people love lifting heavy, others don't. And sometimes we just need to do the core strengthening work that nobody really enjoys, but which we all benefit from.

We do such a wide variety of movements that everyone finds things they're good at and things they're not. Our priority is to do what your body needs to be more fit and injury resistant. This may not be what you want on any given day, but we have good reasons for doing things our way. We figure that you're coming to us because we know what we're doing and want what we're cookin' here. But as a heads up, that means that you're going to have to do things that you don't enjoy as much, so don't complain when we go through a period of more or less of what you want. :)

Priority 2: Quality of movement over Quantity of work

There are a limited number of movement patterns that your body can perform. A movement pattern would include things like squatting, stepping, or push-pull. Within those patterns there are going to be certain ways of moving efficiently. Efficient movement is graceful, the body is stable where it needs to be and smooth where it needs to move. We try to keep our trainees moving well and are always on the look out for bad movement.

Unfortunately the body is extremely adaptable and durable which allows people to move poorly for a long time before it starts to break down. This can often mean a period of readjustment where a person needs to relearn how to do something, or drop weight until the problem is fixed. That's what we want long term.

Priority 3: Long Term over Short Term

Ideally we want to be healthy and active over the course of a long productive life. When we're 90 years old, we want to be able to walk unassisted and stand up from the ground. That seems like a good and reasonable goal.

Looking at total health over our lifespan makes it so that consistent sustainable progress pays off big time over the long run. This lets us be patient when it comes to things like going heavy. You've got all your life to get better, so take the time to master technique. Be happy with baby steps. Set your horizon a little further out, we want you to come in thinking in terms of 3 years. That's time enough to build muscle, learn skills, and get strong.

Priority 4: Strength and Anaerobics over Cardio and Aerobics

Being strong is one of the most important factors in long term physical health and capability. Strength is often called the cup and all of your other physical abilities (speed, endurance, agility, etc) are like water in the cup. Being strong is also protective against injury.

Anaerobics includes doing shorter higher-intensity exercises like sled drags. We definitely do longer distances and times, but we prioritize strength and shorter intervals. Lot's of endurance work only builds your endurance and increases over-use injuries. Short work builds power and speed, but also improves endurance as well. We get more bang for our training buck, and we avoid some injuries.

Priority 5: Injury Reduction

Injuries are a pain the ass, especially when they're in your ass.

Injuries interrupt your training, they reduce your quality of life, and they hurt. In addition to the injury-reducing qualities of the previously mentioned priorities, we also carefully select our exercises and how we use them. Another key component in this is to properly work your way through the movement progressions. There's got to be a system in place. Which is the big reason why we designed our entry program Fitness 101 the way we did- so as to properly progress beginners through weight and complexity.

For Your Next Step, See Our “Get Started” Page

Tacoma Strength