Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The perfect workout, and why I couldn't care less about it.

I’ve written similar words on posts here or there on many occasions, and figured it was time to catalog them here in my little collection of thoughts.

Everyone loves the perfect training day.  It’s on the morning where you wake up after a peaceful night’s sleep feeling like a brand new person.  You cook your eggs over easy and none of the yolks even break, and slam them down alongside a little bacon and a big bowl of oats.  Warm wind in your hair and the sun is out for your drive to the gym.  You enter the weight room to discover that you don’t even have to move the safety squat bar, straps, box and five plates out of the way before beginning your workout.  It’s the perfect day.
 
And I don’t give a shit about it.

 
Why don’t I care about my best workouts, or anyone else's?  We can all have perfect workouts, under perfect circumstance.  In the end, everyone’s advantage is no one’s advantage.  If you aren’t already making the most of the day that lines up for you effortlessly, then chances are I’m not going to be meeting you on the powerlifting platform any time soon anyways.  So I’m not concerned about ideal days and ideal conditions.  In the end, they all wash out.  The days I POUR every fiber of my being into, the ones I take more pride in than all others combined, are the absolute worst of worst days.  When you didn’t sleep all night because the water heater flooded the basement, and then had to grind out a twelve hour work day putting shingles on a roof before even getting to the gym; When your car breaks down on the way into town, and you show up to the gym two hours later than expected and am already hungry and stressed as hell; When none of your training partners can make it, the stereo broke, and you have to train in a dead, empty room with no spotter… THAT’S the day that’s going to make a difference in the end.  Of all the people with the perfect days, only a fraction of them possess the fortitude to stare down a hard lift and take care of what needs to be done regardless.  The rest will find a reason (and there will be plenty) to turn the car around and crawl back under the sheets.  Those are exactly the days where I intend to gain the most ground in this sport, and capitalize on opportunities others choose to pass by.  That really shitty day you decided not to work out? 
Mine sucked too, but I punched in.  See you on the platform.


If you don't see this out your window, who cares.  Neither does the rest of the world 90% of the time.

If everything doesn’t line up for me exactly like I hope, it’s not a deal breaker.  I’m not going to just grit my teeth and smash my fist through everything in sight, either.  Instead, I’m going to use my brain a little bit, and determine what I am capable of TODAY, with the cards I’ve been dealt.  Adapting to the situation is critical when it comes to staying on the path and moving forward no matter the obstacle.  The minute I realize my day is going to shit, and I’m going to be toasted before I even walk through the weight room doors, my approach becomes different.  I don’t care about old rep-PR’s, what I ‘want’ or ‘hope’ to lift, or how the weight feels on my back.  It’s going to feel like crap, I already know that.  I’m not going to let it manifest itself in my mind and destroy me before I even lace up my shoes.  Might as well sack up and get to it.  I will still train.  I’ll take the weight written on my plan, and push it as hard as I am capable.  That is all I can ask of myself.  Who knows, it might STILL be an all-time best.  Many times it has been exactly that.  If so, great!  And if it’s not, I finish my lifting and go home anyways.  You can’t win them all, but you can always do work and make progress.

Before you become too caught up in fantasizing about what your potential could be with the best conditions, ask yourself if you are doing every single thing you can do right now to make use of the tools you’ve got.  If your work schedule only allows six hours of sleep per night, are you getting all six?  Or are you watching four TV shows and playing Halo, and getting four?  Are you packing a lunch or swinging by McDonalds?  If you aren’t applying yourself to the fullest of your ability with the resources you have available, you don’t deserve better ones.  And you damn sure shouldn’t expect someone to offer you anything better.  Entitlement is the death of an aspiring lifter.  Want it?  Work and go get it.
 
Sure, I'd love to train here.  But I'm not going to sit on my ass and wait for the chance.
There is work to do right here, and right now.
 
If top level coaching and thousands upon thousands of dollars in gym equipment were the only requisites for high achievement, then why are so many of the greatest strongmen and powerlifters training in one-car garages with homemade gear?  Probably because they grew tired of listening to half-ass excuses from lazy lifters about what they “could be, if they just had a good squat bar.”  Spare me the bullshit.  In the end, it might just be more productive to train in a cold garage, alongside partners who are as committed to their cause as you, and willing to white-knuckle their way to the top, and sacrifice a few fancy cable machines in exchange for that atmosphere.  I know I would.  At some point, I probably will.
 
Execute the task at hand with the tools in your possession.
No one gives a shit about what you could do, would do, once were, if you only had the blah blah - save it.
 
If you’re like 95% of the working world, your lifestyle is not going to be the best fit for top level competition in any sport.  The sooner you stop giving a shit about what you could do if ______, and start focusing on what you can do RIGHT NOW, the stronger you’ll be.  My suggestion is to invest the time in learning how to adapt to poor conditions.  Use intelligence and instinct to guide you around obstacles, rather than allowing yourself to believe it’s a dead end path.  I specifically include the word “intelligence” here, because the answer to every obstacle is not to just smash through it with reckless abandon.  Failure to acknowledge decreased recovery from a brutally hard work day, is not going to help much in the end.  There is a time to sack up and do work, and make sound decisions about how to train.  If you blow a hamstring off, you’re not going to be deadlifting for a while.  If your bum hurts from sitting in a classroom all day, don’t tell your buddies you blew off a hamstring and need a break.  Don’t be a bitch, and don’t try earning a badge of honor by being superman when you’re not. 

Drago had a multi-million dollar futuristic training facility at his disposal.
Rocky had two huge balls and the will to succeed at any cost.  You saw how this one turned out.

In the end, steady work through every situation will take you farther than anything else.  Effort precedes every other part of what it takes to grow strong for the long term.  I will always choose to surround myself with those willing to do whatever they must to advance their position, no matter the cards they are dealt.  None of us are special and none of us have the perfect scenario.  And if you do, well the title of this piece will explain how I feel about it.

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