April 2015 - JustLift

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Motivation: You Have a Choice

Another deload week has rolled around for me. Just as it is for many a lifter, I definitely can’t say I’m excited. You’re lifting lighter weights for fewer sets and reps while spending considerably less time under the bar if programmed properly. You’d think after weeks of hammering yourself to exhaustion that this would be a welcome change of pace. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I don’t enjoy the process of the deload, they’re still absolutely necessary for recovery, and thus, adaptation (read: gains) to occur. You’d think that, as a coach, knowing this, I’d be a little bit more enthusiastic about the whole process. Well, I’m not. I’m a stubborn bastard (sorry, mom, I use the term figuratively), just as emotionally frenetic as any other athlete, and dammit, I want to train! As such, even though I’m doing the work, I sure as shit don’t feel any particular motivation to do it. With that in mind, then, I see no better opportunity to talk about another aspect to the concept of motivation.

As I’ve stated in the past, motivation is the key to attaining everything. It’s the most important item in your training toolbox, more relevant than any exercise or training program you can think of. Now, previously, I’ve deconstructed the concept of motivation, discussed what motivation might mean to you or how to find and define the most profound reasons to do what you do. Today, however, I want to leave you with a little exposition of sorts. You see, I recently had an epiphany, and I want to share it with you in the hope that it can do for you what it’s done for me. What I’m about to tell you can be applied to all training, but is especially pertinent to doing what you don’t want to do, but know you ought to be doing.

I just want to preface what I’m about to say with this: I’m getting amazingly tired of writing about my injuries. I’m sure you’re just as tired of reading about them. But really, they do define my training right now, and if I’m going to stick to the mandate I initially set for myself about discussing my personal process of getting back under the bar as it may apply to your experiences, well, I have to mention them because they’re the constraint that currently defines how I train. But, being the opportunist that I am, I’m trying very hard to stay productive. Notice that I didn’t say the word “positive.” There’s nothing about this that I’m particularly happy about, and no, I won’t attempt to trick myself into being “positive” even if that’s what your run-of-the-mill self-help guide says I should do. There’s no amount of imagining or visualizing that’s going to somehow defy the known principles of quantum mechanics, and magically attract my shoulders back into their joint spaces. If you know me personally, then, you know that I can be an intense person, occasionally (who am I kidding, often) motivated by anger or what I see as something that ought to be corrected. Let me tell you, it’s very hard to feel satisfied when you can’t do one something you love the way you’d like to. Being injured is an intensely demotivating experience, and no, I won’t pretend to attach a silver lining to it (even though, in some cases, I’ve tried to).

My training for the last two weeks has included a vast array of corrective, rehabilitative, and preventative exercises that I really, really, don’t like doing. For one, they hurt. Two, they’re boring, and I’m not very good at them nor am I particularly interested in being good at them. Three, you have to do a lot of mental abstraction to convince yourself of their relevance. But, like I asked last week, what’s the most important part in your quest to Snatch big weights? Well, being able to do the damn lift! And, right now, I can’t. I guess, then, shoulder, hip, and thoracic mobility drills are pretty relevant, even if I really don’t want them to be. That still doesn’t address points one and two, however. Sitting in a 90-90 position, trying to stay upright because your left hip won’t rotate, while relevant to Snatching well, is still very distant, conceptually, from the Snatch. So, as I contorted myself the other day, braced against a box, straining to do the drill correctly, I realized something. Motivation doesn’t have to be based on some grand realization or a narrative you’ve created for yourself about who you want to be or why you do what you do. It can be as simple as making a choice.

Yes, your choice should be based on all that other stuff related to what you desire in life, but actively thinking about that in this kind of situation can be really demotivating, and not to mention, extraneous. When you’re hunkered down doing something you don’t like introspection will likely only serve to frustrate you more. My little epiphany was simple: I could choose to be emotional, invested, and analytic about my situation or I could simply choose to do it, full stop. No extra thinking, no pondering, just focus on what I am physically doing, not what I think about it or whether I like it. Although a simple statement, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Although I’d say meaning making is an inescapable part of the human experience, sometimes, though, to be the person you want to be you have to actively stop synthesizing information. I could have sat next to my box, legs in some deranged pretzel formation, thinking about all the reasons I was doing it for, all the good that would come if I stayed the course, and all that I’d miss out on if I didn’t do it. In fact, I did do that, and all it reminded me off was how injured I am, and what I’m missing out on. What am I going to do? Manipulate myself into liking something I clearly don’t in order to enjoy the training experience? I’ve attempted that before, and it definitely didn’t work nor help! So, instead, this time around I shut all that thought out. I accepted my fate, and just zoned out until the work was done.

Admittedly, this is a lot easier to write about than it is to do. As I’m sure you’re well aware, your mind isn’t like a television that you can just switch off with the press of a button. No, no matter what you do, you have to occupy it with something. So occupy it with something that not only defies your inner-monologue, but has nothing to do with it. Just breathe. Between sets of sitting awkwardly using a box to stave off falling over, I just focused on inhaling and exhaling, counting my breaths. During I just counted reps, and thought about my positions. I found a rhythm, and let myself get lost in it. In short, I basically mediated. I’m not a religionist by any means, but there’s something to be said about the Buddhist notion that desire is the root of all suffering. Sometimes that desire is what you need to keep you pushing, but sometimes pushing is the problem. A corrective exercise isn’t something to expend all that energy on. When all I did to force myself into completing my rehab exercises was to focus on why I was doing them, what they would lead me to, I was filled with frustration, and even despair. All it did was remind me that I’m injured, and that I wasn’t doing what I wanted, and that was the whole problem. Even though I knew what I was doing would lead me to where I wanted to be, what I wanted was stressing me out to the point where I didn’t want to train, where I had to force discipline, finding numerous ways to convince myself that I was doing what I needed to be doing. If that’s what’s going through my head, then, I have my doubts about the quality of the work I’m putting inbecause my mind is divorced from what I’m actually doing. Instead, when I perform these exercises, I focus now on my breath, my movement, and its quality. I zone out.

You can be entirely aware of the value of why you’re doing what you’re doing, but often, such a mindset still does nothing to quell the immediate dissatisfaction you might be feeling. Enduring suffering for the sake of a greater goal might make you disciplined at some level, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you’re still suffering. Think of this active indifference as a way around the whole problem of motivation itself, harkening back to that concept of performing as though you’ve already failed/died I wrote about weeks ago.

More than a few of you are currently doing programs you’re not particularly happy about. Some of it is due to injury that, like me, has to be addressed before you go forward. For others, we’re attempting to fix significant deficits that will only become worse the longer we ignore them. What we need to remind ourselves of at times is that, while training can be a fun, envigorating process, it won’t always be, even if that’s your primary reason for lifting. This goes double for you if you have competitive goals because champions are those who focus on rectifying their weaknesses, and more often than not, working on our weaknesses is not an enjoyable experience. Despite presenting the central concept of Buddhist philosophy above as an example, I firmly believe desire is central to the human condition, and must be embraced, athlete or not. I just think that the statement happens to be correct, even if it does seem disappointing. What matters is that we reconcile what our immediate desires are with our future desires, tempering ourselves in order to do so. Even more importantly, that we don’t place attachment on any single means, method, experience, or condition for doing so. I won’t claim to have any definitive answers about what this means beyond what I’ve said above, in part because I don’t really know; I’m probably just as confused as you might be about this. I do know this, however. Life is full of paradoxical events, realities, and in some cases, truths. This might be one of them: sometimes, in order to get what you desire you have to ignore what you want.

By |April 23rd, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Motivation: You Have a Choice

Goals, What You Want and What You Need

Training this week has been a bummer. I can’t Snatch because my previously mentioned shoulders aren’t being cooperative. Apparently, forcing them to “cooperate” isn’t a valid workaround as that approach just made them worse. If I were to describe this week’s training with one word, it’s this: disappointment. Disappointment doesn’t necessarily mean dissatisfaction, however. No, because of my broken body I’ve actually learned quite a bit, and it’s given me another outlook to discuss. Today I’m going to list the three most pertinent epiphanies I’ve had this week about training, and wrap up at the end with what I think it all means.

Idea number one: Injuries suck. Of course, you already knew that, and I’ve already written about mine. I’ve had to re-organize a lot of my training around my current shoulder situation. Sometimes there’s a silver lining to these things, however. Admittedly, my problems were beyond me, so I enlisted the help of a professional. As it turns out, my hips are the principle problem, lacking internal rotation capacity, especially on the left side. What this has done is promulgated deranged movement patterns, forcing my upper-body into, for lack of a better term, a sub-optimal position. I suppose this a good lesson, though: often times whatever kind of problem you’re trying to fix may not actually be the problem you ought to solve.

Idea number two: Be honest with yourself, and resist the urge to obscure the difference between what your training goals are and what they ought to be. When I write training programs, especially for the more advanced lifters, I plan anywhere from six to twelve months in advance. Now, when I do this, I don’t mean exercises, sets, and reps. The most I write that in advance is two or three months. What I do have written is a conceptual plan that outlines what our focuses need to be, and in what order they need to be addressed in. Think of it like building blocks; even though what we’re looking for is that peak at the top we still need to lay a foundation, and everything in between that leads to our apex (conceived of as the most important competition of the season). Within that plan I allot time for injuries, life events, whatever. Detours are a simple fact of life. That said, I usually conceptualize these as marginal changes where I don’t have to rapidly reformulate the plan. I know it’s probably becoming a tired point, but my injuries are the most prominent feature of my training right now.

With both an injured leg, and shoulders, that means there’s actually a lot in Weightlifting that I shouldn’t do before I solve these issues. It’s immensely frustrating, and at least one or two chairs have felt my wrath as a result. I’ve been fixated on how to program around these issues, and still manage to achieve all the little sub-goals I’ve made for myself that need to be attained to build the foundation that leads me to my desired peak. For my purposes, I have no big competition to go for, just numbers. I want a 300kg total before I feel as though I can live with treating this as a hobby. I use the little in-between goals to guide me because they break my singular, grand goal into more easily attainable chunks. Here’s the thing, though: that’s not always the case.

If I can’t move properly because of mobility restrictions and injuries, should I really be that focused on my ultimate goal of a 300kg total? It seems clear to me that I should focus the bulk of my attention on fixing my underlying issues, which, in doing so, will enable me to achieve my goal. Suddenly those little sub-goals don’t make much sense to fixate on, do they? If you have movement problems, injuries, technique problems, and so on… Don’t get set on numbers or your ultimate goals. Sometimes it makes more sense to take stock of your situation, be disciplined, and focus on what you’re fundamental goals are as opposed to your ultimate ones since the fundamentals are what will enable the ultimate ones. Is it disheartening? It can be. It’s certainly put a major damper on some of my plans, but that’s my ego getting in the way. The fastest way to Snatching 130kg is first putting my body in a state where it can healthily Snatch with proper technical consistency.

Idea number three: For the most part, you never truly regress. We all hit walls in training for myriad reasons both related, and unrelated to lifting. Occasionally (and I am guilty of this, too) I hear some of my athletes claim, after a frustrating session, that they’ve regressed. No, they haven’t. The weight on the bar might have gone down for whatever reason or you might not like that new technique change. Put things in context. I can’t Snatch what I want to right now, but that’s because, anatomically, I can’t receive a bar properly. In having to address my shoulder issue I’ve actually hard to learn a lot of new material that I’ve, in fact, already begun employing in my coaching curriculum. Seems like growth to me, no? As long as you’re at least attempting to constantly improve in some way, you’re getting better, just not directly so. Because of my injury status I’ve learned a fair bit more about hip and shoulder anatomy than I knew a few months ago. It’s going to help me lift properly, and pain free in the next month or so, but more profoundly, it will enable me to keep doing so if I run into this problem again. You only regress if you make the decision to stop getting better at whatever it is you’re working on.

Like all rules, there’s always an exception. In the past I’ve said that it’s prudent to focus on the present, to spend most of your attention on what you’re doing at that moment in your training in order to avoid over complication and analytic paralysis. I think my training week is a case study in this sense, however, for when it’s not a good idea to place too much weight on the moment, and instead, look at everything indirectly affecting your goals. Sometimes the goal isn’t what you should look at. Sometimes you should take a step back and simply take stock of what simply enables you to even have those goals in the first place.

By |April 16th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Goals, What You Want and What You Need

The Enemy of Progress: Self-Doubt

Being awesome at something is hard. I think I made that pretty clear last week, while also suggesting ways to be awesome without cracking. Last week’s writing was essentially a primer – an introduction – to what I’ve observed to be the path people awesome-er than I have taken to become excellent at Weightlifting. There’s something, however, that I neglected to mention, something that is the enemy of all progress in training: doubt.

We’ve all done it. You approach the bar with confidence, having gone through visualizations of what you want to do. You actively think about those visualizations, and how you’re going to perform them. You get set, grasp the bar, wrap your fingers around your thumb. Your back is tight, your mind made-up, and you pull. The bar glides up your legs, into the power position. You explode, ripping your elbows up while racing under… Then it all goes to shit. The bar sails behind you, wrenching your shoulders, crashing on the platform. You know what you did wrong. You think “dammit, why can’t I keep my chest up when I catch?!” Your coach coach is as dumbfounded as you, having tried myriad cues attempting to help you understand how to perform this basic task. You know just as well as they do what the problem is. So why can’t you fix it?

I know that was my problem last Saturday when I was Snatching. I was still beat-up from the previous weekend at Provincials, my shoulders were being uncooperative, and as a result, everything felt off. Frustration would simmer within, and for a brief moment, I thought to myself: “what’s the point?” I’ve done this long enough, however, to realize that I’ve asked myself that same question more times than I can count. And, you know what? Every time I’ve asked myself, I’ve had an answer: “because I want to get better.” It’s a simple problem, just a hard one to crack. Getting better requires accepting failure, and in Weightlifting, accepting both frequent and consistent failure is necessary, especially in your first year or two. Everyone is going to have a handful of problems along the way that are a constant constraint on their growth. So, why beat yourself up? Well, I know why, but you shouldn’t. Resit the urge! For instance, when I first started in this sport, it took me about nine months to learn to Jerk properly. Then I got really good at it, and between the Snatch, Clean, and Jerk, I was best at the Jerk. Now that I’ve gotten back into the game with seriousness, guess what? My Jerk is easily my worst lift again, and I’m not looking forward to the idea that it might take me just as long to get good at it again. In fact, at this point, I’m hoping I can be competent at it again in six months rather than nine. There hasn’t been one person I’ve coached for any real length of time that hasn’t had at least one or two erroneous tendencies in their lifting. Often times, they’re simple, and frustrating, but they’re there. They eventually do get solved, but you must be patient!

I’ve coached a lot of lifters, for instance, who have a real rough time standing up with a heavy Snatch or Clean. I’ve never had this problem because I’ve always been stronger relative to my technical ability. The opposite is true in many. What’s universal, however, is the self-doubt that we often cast upon ourselves when comparing our performances to those of others. So stop! Thoughts like: “dammit, why the hell does she jerk so well yet my feet move like they’re made of cement?!” are both unproductive and, well, kind of dumb actually (hint: the answer is because you’re not her). Thinking about why you, and only you, might not be doing something properly is far more productive. At least that question gives you useful feedback. Comparing yourself to others is only wise when you’re comparing the differences between your technique and there’s, thinking about what they might be doing that you’re not, and going from there. You can go ahead and skip the self-denigration, though.

Going back to my Saturday workout I can remember asking myself why I couldn’t receive the bar like everyone else I was training with. I looked down at my feet for a moment, noticed that my chest blocked out everything but my toes, and then remembered that everyone else I was training with didn’t mangle their shoulders with years of heavy Bench Pressing. Still, it seemed like everyone else I was training with was training much better than I was. I was admittedly starting to get a little emotional. Then I thought about the time I raged out on a disposable cup, and decided to tone it down.

It’s not productive to be too invested emotionally in each session. Sometimes, believe it or not, you need to just phone it in. The more emotional you get the more you’re going to get stuck in your head. And when that happens, then you become hypersensitive to everything that you perceive to be going wrong (it’s rare I see someone harp on what they’re doing right). No, just because every rep wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean you’re learning things incorrectly. We learn in chunks, and through progressions. That’s why if I see three things wrong with someone’s lifts, but they’re consistently getting better at, say, problem number one I don’t call them on the other two. I want them to solidify perfecting problem number one before we tackle problems number two and three. Allowing yourself to be too emotionally attached clouds your judgement, disorganizing your ability to focus on getting better. Pick one thing you don’t like and stick with it. Forget about everything else because it’ll still be there to solve after you fix the first problem. Going back to my aforementioned Snatch workout. As I saw it, I had a few options. I could say to hell with it because there’s no technique cue for dysfunctional shoulders and quit my workout. Or I could go with Plan B, which was deciding to just work my pull and start position because there was nothing I could feasibly do to fix my receipt problem that day. I wasn’t happy, but I still did things to get better that day. The point I’m making is that, as frustrated as I felt, I just had to find a way to remain productive, even if it wasn’t what I wanted right then and there. Sometimes you need to accept that you’re going to have a bad day. But, then, is it necessarily that bad a day?

Part of the problem we face as lifters is that we often become attached to our best workouts, even though they’re exceptionally rare occurrences. The problem is that these days are the exception, not the norm, and so it makes little sense to hold them as the measuring stick for a good workout. I know I’ve written quite a bit about finding and embodying the feel, but there are some days where finding the feel is going to be a struggle, and this simply needs to be accepted. Be humble and accept what you can and can’t do on a given day. Speaking of attachment, it’s also not conducive to fixate on a program nor on how you feel. There are going to be days where your body, despite you and your coach’s best efforts, is not going to be able to do a given day’s workouts well. There are also going to be days where you feel awful, and yet you are able to perform your workouts well. It’s not going to feel good, certainly not like one of those workouts you look back on fondly, but you still need to do it. This is simply the reality of it, and more than likely, your coach is prepared to deal with this. No one who’s good ever trains at 100% anyway, so there are always going to be workarounds involved in the performance of any program. I know in my own life, nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever gone to plan. Sometimes these deviations are even useful because they highlight details and deficits the two of you may not have been aware of previously. Expecting optimum conditions, and thus, performances, is the surest way to discourage yourself.

The ultimate point I’m attempting to get at is that training is an organic process filled with ups and downs. Knowing this, then, you have to resist the urge to be too hard on yourself especially if you want to be the best you can be. If you’re someone who’s particularly critical of their training, then, I have good news for you! This is a quality I’ve seen over and over in the strongest lifters I’ve ever coached! The experienced ones, however, who are the best out of that group, are the ones who learned to temper their nerves, and yet still be cognizant of their weaknesses.

By |April 9th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Enemy of Progress: Self-Doubt

On Being Awesome

We’re going to switch gears a bit this week. As I’m sure almost all of you are aware, the Ontario Senior Championships were last weekend. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t train a whole lot last week, so there’s not a lot to comment on (although I did have an excellent Snatch workout!). The standard of competition in this province has increased dramatically. As a consequence, the team and I were surrounded by high-level competitors, many being national-level competitors. We saw some great feats of strength, both from our own team, and from other competitors. I think we can all agree that we’d like to be good at what we do, that we’d like to be the best that we can be. But, what does “the best that we can be” actually mean? How do we know how good we can be? The truth is, we really don’t. That’s just a padded aphorism that says: “strive to achieve personal greatness, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it to where you want to be.” Even so, I still believe it’s a central tenet that we all need to keep in follow. What we’ll be discussing today is how we can each develop our own sense of what “the best we can be” is, and what it ought to be.

Being the best you can be is a nebulous concept. You probably have an idea of just how bad you can be because it’s easy. If you’ve done this long enough, you know what happens when you train inconsistently, when you miss a meal, party too much, or don’t sleep enough. It’s hard to imagine, though, what happens when you dial everything in, and push. As far as I know, no one can actually predict, with any real accuracy, just how good they can be. There’s no identifiable gene cluster (yet, anyway) that indicates what your max possible Snatch can ever be. Just because you added 20kg to your total in your second year of training doesn’t mean you’ll do the same in your third. Yes, there actually is research that has identified a general tendency for athletic growth in Weightlifting, but does it account for confounds like injury? What if your dog gets sick? You get dumped by the love of your life? To put it eloquently, shit happens. More realistically, shit will happen. You want to know the awful truth, though? None of that matters, and is irrelevant to being your best.

The universe is callous, and, as far as I can tell, has no regard for what’s fair, what’s right, or what you think you deserve (your belief system may say otherwise, however, and I’m cool with that). The point I’m getting at has to do with the mindset of a competitor. When you go on Youtube and see a world record get thrown over their head by an elite lifter, you think: “wow, she’s amazing!” You may even get your imagination going a bit and think: “gee, I wish I could do that.” What actually separates you two, however? The immediate answer that I think tends to go off in peoples’ minds is: “she’s super talented!” This, then, turns into: “she’s genetically gifted!” and following that, unfortunately: “she’s on drugs!” The above may actually all be true, but we all tend to miss something. We saw them perform, at their best, for what? Six attempts? We saw maybe ten minutes of their lives unfold. If you dug around the web, maybe you saw clips from their competitive preparation. That’s cool. Did you see her getting yelled at by her coach? Did you experience the disappointment both she and her friends felt for skipping the 400th invitation to a Friday night out? Did you see that nagging shoulder injury of her’s pain her throughout the entirety of her 16 week training cycle? Did you see how she handled any of the otherwise normal life struggles that we all share? Didn’t think so. If you’re giving into any of the above, then, you’re not working towards being the best you can be as a Weightlifter (this is a crucial distinction; more on this shortly).

As I sit here writing this, I’m currently wearing six strips of Kinesio Tape between my right shoulder and adductor. I’m still going to train today. It’s not going to be pleasant.. Don’t care. I need to be just as tough as the athletes I coach. I might be reckless, perhaps even a little crazy, but I’m not an idiot; I’ve also blocked off time and money for a few weeks, maybe even months, to receive treatment for these issues.

I could radically restructure my program to work around this and not only train productively, but comfortably. But would I be training optimally for the goals I have? Probably not. Certainly not if we ignore the injuries. Let’s switch gears, though.

Thus far I’ve made it seem like to be the best you can be at Weightlifting you ought to eschew everything else in your life for the bar. No, I just illustrated the length at which an elite competitor goes to be the best they know they can be. The fact of the matter is that the “best you can be” has a lot more to do with simply trying to be the best at something. Don’t get me wrong, as a competitive coach, I think it’s both an amazing and honorable endeavor to commit to something like that, and I have nothing but admiration for those individuals. The best you or I can be, however, might be something different, and it might involve more than just Weightlifting.

Greg Nuckol’s, world-class Powerlifter and strength coach, has recently begun injecting one of my favorite phenomena of social science into training theory (check out his site, Strengththeory.com; it’s amazing). You may have heard of it, the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, by the Italian sociologist/economist/engineer Vilfredo Pareto. While his work originally found that 80% of the land in Italy (at the time) was owned by 20% of the population, this ratio has been extended into virtually any endeavor that involves production, and thus far, seems to be a tenable model in that respect. For our purposes, let’s assume 80% of our training results come form 20% of the actual work we do. How are we defining work? Training, recovery, lifestyle, essentially, anything you do with the intention of reaching your training goals. That’s a pretty damn good return I’d say. But, what about that last 20%? That’s where it gets tough, and that’s what will define whether or not you’re actually attempting to become the “best you can be.” For me, that last 20% means finding ways around my injuries, sacrificing time and money to both train and recover because I expect myself to get that last 20%. That 20% I’m talking about, however, doesn’t refer to the absolute 20% I could get if I dedicated myself completely to becoming a Weightlifter. That 20% just refers to the last slice of my life I’m willing to give up in my quest to be the best Weightlifter I can be given everything else I’m responsible for.

I want to be the best I can be as a coach and a weightlifter. If you just do this for fun and fitness, though, don’t let me alienate you. Yes, we are a competitive club, and I am a competition coach, but fundamentally, I got into this because I saw the potential for a community to share in something I love. An opportunity for people to better their lives through the passion that I and a handful of others shared. It’s been a hard life at times, but whose isn’t? What I’m getting at is that, regardless of whatever you want to be the best you can be at, it’s going to require sacrifice. It’s going to require you to embrace discomfort, to delay gratification, and to be courageous enough to weather the storm of doubt, disappointment, and the unexpected. The best way to do this?

Have a solid foundation. The 80/20 rule stated above to me implies that if we can achieve 80% of our desired result from 20% of the effort, then, we better get that foundational 20% down pat. This is easier than you think. So, if you train as a Weightlifter, but still have a job and family, yet want to maximize your return in Weightlifting? Let’s order the fundamentals first. 1) Show up to training consistently three times per week. 2) Pay attention to what your coaches are telling you, and focus on what you’re doing with your time during your workouts. 3) Eat well, and consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. That’s it. You’ve already laid the foundation for achieving 80% of your potential (obviously this is a scientific formula for gains). Then you’ve got plenty of time and resources to organize that 20% effort for whatever else it is you want to be the best you can be at. It’s after this point that you can start deciding just how far you want to go to try and achieve that notion of being your best.

The final part of this statement we need to discuss should be obvious: what is your best? Perhaps we should rephrase that. What is the quantifiable and qualifiable point at which you think could demarcate your best? For instance, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to Clean and Jerk 270kg. Don’t come at me with that disingenuous and saccharine “if you dream it you can become it!” cliche, either. For one, no one before me has done it, I wasn’t raised on an athletes’ compound in some secret training lab in Kazakhstan, and I’m definitely at least 15 years too old to even conceive of doing this. An Olympic Gold Medal? Probably not in the cards. In fact, I’d rather put the work it would take to attain that into one of my athletes instead. Snatching of 140kg while simultaneously growing a business and competitive team? That might actually be in the cards if I work both hard and smart enough. I’m far from lifting that at the moment, but that’s only 20kg away from the most I’ve ever been able to Snatch. Over a timeline of three or four years? That’s not impossible, and I’m willing to put in the work, and experience all the discomfort that can come with that.

As men and women trying to hoist the heaviest weights we can over our heads, we should always strive to be better versions of ourselves as time goes on. What better actually means is up to each of us in relation to whatever else it is we want or need to be good at. All I’ve endeavored to do is give you an idea of how to think about what that might be. Bottom-line, however, excellence in anything necessarily requires sacrifice. The questions that need answering are what to sacrifice, and how much. Of course, there’s nothing that says you have to do this all at once. All of the athletes at our club who brought home medals with them this past weekend started training three times a week with the ambiguous intention of just getting better at Weightlifting. Their goals, and thus, what they we’re willing to give up for them, changed over time. This was reflected in their performances. Perhaps, then, the best you can be has nothing to do with the weight on the bar.

The truth is, the further I get into writing, and reflecting on this article, the more I realize that I don’t have more than a few guidelines as to figuring out what our aphorism of being the best you can be means. I’m still figuring that out for myself. I’ll tell you this, however. I saw some stunning performances this past weekend, with athletes pushing their capabilities to the max. I’m certain many of the people I saw, athletes and coaches alike, were living in a way that reflects the ethic expressed above. Maybe, then, being the best you can be simply has to do with whether or not you’ve followed through on what you know the best you could be. You’ll never know until you try!

By |April 2nd, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on On Being Awesome