Your Strength Incompetency

4 Jan , 2018  

To secure progression throughout your training micro/meso and macro cycles + phases you have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

My name is Brogan Williams and I am a Powerlifter/Strength Coach from Auckland, New Zealand. Thank you for clicking the link and heading over for a quick read, I hope you get something out of today’s blog.

Let’s jump right in.


Over the years I’ve had some wins and I’ve had some losses. Recently I had the privilege of travelling to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete at IPL Worlds 2017. During this meet not everything went to plan, not even close. But by using the tools I describe below I’m back on track and know what I need to do to move forward and continue to maximise my performance.

You see, I’ve had times where I’m so excited to achieve my goals and times where I’m so disappointed. I would always tend to get frustrated because I didn’t know where to start or how to fix the issue. Sometimes the same approach doesn’t always work and as an athlete changes, so does the need for their program to change. The problem was, I didn’t know WHY I was succeeding when things were going well, so when things went bad, I had little insight into how to fix my own training. This has left me feeling flat, disappointed, frustrated and confused.

To secure progression throughout your training micro/meso and macro cycles + phases you have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. What am I talking about? Self Evaluation.

Honest self evaluation must become an essential part of your training and planning. 

Let’s take a minute, read these questions and try answer them in your head:

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What has made your training successful or not successful?

If you cannot answer these questions, YOU are leaving pounds on the table and limiting your progression in the short and long term.


Sometimes it can be hard knowing where to start, what to work on and how to evaluate ourselves. So let’s dive into the 4 stages of competency that can guide us in further understanding what it means to self evaluate.

Unconscious incompetence (You don’t know what the hell is going on)
The athlete does not understand or recognise his weakness or error in his current training. The athlete must then recognise their own incompetence before progression can occur. 

Conscious incompetence (You know what’s wrong, but don’t know how to fix it)
Though the athlete does not understand or know how to do something, they recognise and become aware of the issue & can then make steps to progress in this area. This stage usually involves researching or learning new information, the application of that information, possible failure and eventually success.

Conscious competence (You study, you apply and you learn, now understand how to fix the issue)
The athlete understands or knows how to do something. They have applied the new found information and had success, however it still requires a lot of thought and intentionality.

Unconscious competence (You can now apply this new skill with ease)
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. Some examples of this would be:

– The athlete has applied a new cue to their squat. They have mastered this to the point where they perform the movement applying this cue without even thinking about it, they can now move on to another cue or focussing on other things. 

– The athlete has applied a new style of programming that has seen amazing results. They can now incorporate that new found knowledge anytime they need to maximise performance. 

 – The athlete has created a routine before their lift to help them focus and stay calm. They now perform this routine every time they lift without any extra thought, it clears their head and helps them remain calm while under heavy weights, whether in the gym or in competition. 

By using the above stages, you can pinpoint some areas within your training/programming and technique that are not up to scratch, or may even be harmful to you.


One key that all good coaches and/or athletes do is anticipate the problem.

By using the tools above, being self aware and performing consistent honest self evaluations YOU should be able to anticipate issues before they arise. Being a reactionary athlete will leave you under performing and possibly even worse, injured.

By listening to your body and evaluating your training you can make those essential changes that need to be made.

The athlete has started to notice some very minor knee pain from squatting. Before the issue gets worse and an injury occurs, the athlete applies a series of precautionary steps. This could include: Further warm up time, mobility work, wearing knee sleeves, adjusting technique, adjusting training volume and/or intensity, utilising exercise variation or seeking advice from physio or similar industry professional that can help.

Good athletes anticipate problems, NOT react. 

Let’s boil this blog down to some key points:

– Self Evaluation is KEY

– Knowing WHY your training is successful gives you further insight into WHY things may not be working. The same approach doesn’t always work and isn’t always the most effective path. 

– Use the Competency Stages to guide you through a honest self evaluation. Then using the 4 steps, identify where you sit and get to work!

– Be an athlete that anticipates issues opposed to reacting once things have already gone wrong. (Resulting in Injury prevention + enhancing performance/longevity)

These tools are not exclusive to strength training or sports, but used by businessmen, CEO’s, directors and entrepreneurs all over the world. One of the most successful, forward thinkers of our time stated:

“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

Elon Musk

Thank you for reading and I hope you can apply some of this knowledge to become a better athlete.

As always, if you have ANY questions – drop a comment below or message me on @fight4growth or for those interested in coaching, head over to LETMECOACHYOU.NET.
Thanks again,

Written by Brogan Williams

Edited by Hugh Ozumba

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By  -      
A New Zealand Powerlifter, owner of STRENGTH-PRESCRIPTION and writer at MYSTRENGTHBLOG + POWERLIFTINGMOTIVATION.COM. MORE CONTENT --> Instagram: @BroganSamuelWilliams

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