My friends at the gym are sick of seeing me train powerlifting-style. Most don’t get it. (I just squat, bench and deadlift after all — kettlebell training in evenings for variety) For them, training is about muscles and getting bigger. For me, it’s about strength. Nothing else.
I’m an essentialist (at least hoping to become one) and my goals is to focus on training that gives me the biggest bang for the buck. Strength always outlasts muscle. Hence, my preference.
Now, picture this, I’m all pumped up and walk into the gym with a number in mind. A 200-kilo deadlift. Yes, that’s what I’m going to pull. I warm up and work my way up to my previous best 180 kilos (that I achieved just a couple of weeks back) and guess what? I’m already exhausted… I load another 10kilo plate on each side of the barbell and attempt my lift. Failed. Now my back hurts.
Here’s what — I was doomed to fail the moment I fixated that number in mind. No matter how pumped I’d felt walking into the gym, I couldn’t possibly have scored a 20-kilo personal record. Because I never worked for it!
You see, the barbell never lies. It stays the same no matter how strong you get. And it will humble you if you ever get ahead of yourself. In some cases, it will even punish you for being stupid.*
An ideal powerlifting cycle is somewhere between 10 and 16 weeks. Which means, had I trained hard (4-5 days a week) for 16 consecutive weeks, I would have definitely smashed that PR I had in mind. Would probably have gone beyond because I’d followed the process.
The barbell doesn’t care if you’ve taken a shortcut. You have to earn its respect before it gives in to your courage and hard work.
The barbell, if you can relate, is akin to our lives. Isn’t it?
If you want to be a great writer. Attending a 5-day boot camp wouldn’t make you the next big thing after Shakespeare. Reading about writing wouldn’t make you any better either.
Only writing makes you a better writer. And that doesn’t mean you go ahead and write that book you’ve always had in mind since you were seven.
You have to put in the reps. There are no shortcuts! You have to put in the hours before you can make any significant difference in your life. No matter how pumped you are to make it big you can only go as much as your previous best. And nothing more.
If you haven’t even started… that’s ground zero!
In most cases that’s better than not starting at all. Or worse, starting at a higher level — because you were super ambitious — only to come crashing down. And eventually quitting.
Start. Put in the reps. Make it count.
*Hey, I didn’t actually do this… just to make things clear between us 😉