Wouldn’t have it any other way

I had to take a couple of days off this week from hoisting weights around to accompany my daughter to the worst state in the Union: Georgia. She was doing a college tour for her graduate work so instead of lifting weights, I spent a lot of time in a car. Travel tip: don’t even think about staying at the Motel 6 in Decatur.

I picked up where I left off yesterday and did some ab work from home, then headed to the hallway where I lift and did Sumo Block Pulls and Paused Bench Press. Everything went quite well and I felt good and all of that stuff. I’ve been thinking about my impending platform appearance in ’17 and my relative lack of strength in the context of a competitive powerlifter. When I sink to the lowest point of strength-specific self esteem issues, and at least temporarily write off ever actually competing, an interesting thing occurs: I wouldn’t change anything about how I’m training.

As an older specimen of Homo Sapien, my expectations have to be tempered by the hard truth regarding what my body can accomplish. Studies have shown the ability for the human body to repair and build muscle in response to stimulus at essentially any age, but that’s when the body is exposed to resistance initially. Once that initial adaptation takes place, it becomes more maintenance of lean muscle as one ages, vs. perpetually growing ever larger, thicker musculature. It goes without saying I’m referring to resistance training without the use of exogenous hormones and other injectable delights. Continuing to gain strength as one ages though, is possible beyond just the initial bouts, so for me, training for anything other than gaining strength is not a particularly satisfying pursuit.

If I were not to train specifically to powerlift, I would perhaps return to a less rigid system of exercise selection and progression methodology. For a time I just picked two lifts I felt like doing each day and trained them in whatever manner I felt like on that particular morning. This is a gratifying way of hitting the weights for me, and I sometimes consider returning to it, but it really wouldn’t look that different. If I wasn’t thinking about powerlifting, I’d likely:

  • Not do Paused Bench Press.
  • Do more overhead pressing.
  • Deadlift less often.

Other than that, I’d still Squat often, do Weighted Dips, all manner of Benching, Front Squat, Pendlay Rows and Pull-ups… I mean really, what else is there? I’m confident as I write this that I’ll likely never open up another “program” and follow it. My experiences with all of them were roughly the same and none of them ever stuck. I try to live in an evidence-based way, so when I make no progress, I may blame myself for not trying hard enough, or not sticking with it long enough, but in reality the evidence speaks for itself: it’s not working.

The most progress I’ve ever made came from employing two concepts that I end up writing about often. Training frequently and progressing linearly in weight. As long as I follow those two maxims, I will make progress and I will enjoy what I’m doing. Tomorrow I will Squat and do Pull-ups, which sounds like a good day’s work whether I’m going to powerlift or just lift to be powerful.

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