3 Rules for Getting Strong(er)

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Look — I could write a dozen "rules" about how to get strong. The thing is, rules are made to be broken. There will always be the genetic freaks that can do f#*! all in the gym and still get huge and break records. For the rest of us, well, we'll need to do a bit more. Such as:

  1. You have to train hard.

    There’s absolutely no way around this one, and to be honest, it’s the most important on the list. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they’re going to beat my records or physique or whatever – and then go quit each and every set they do at RPE 6. Look: I want y’all to kick my ass. But you’re going to have to kick your own ass to do so.

    In fact, I’ll go a step further: I’ll say that if you really want to excel as a lifter, you have to straight-up suffer. Whether that means eating 6000 calories a day to fill out your frame; enduring crippling injuries en route to stepping on the platform; or spending hours in a sauna to make weight, powerlifting often straight-up sucks. If you’re not willing to embrace the suck – if you don’t live for the suck – you’re not going to reach your full potential.

  2. You have to think strong.

    This is the corollary to the point above: you can’t just run yourself into the ground 24/7/365 and expect to get anywhere. You have to train smart; you have to spend the time and develop the patience to learn to train in the best way for your body and your goals. No coach can teach you that – although they can help you figure it out more quickly than you could on your own.

    Thinking strong and being smart might mean knowing the difference between being hurt and being injured. It might mean knowing when to quit – on a set, a meet, whatever. It might me learning to train mindfully. No matter what the case, the smarter you train, and stronger you think, the better your results will be.

  3. You have to put in the time.

    I didn’t save the best for last here. In fact, putting in the time is, for many lifters, the least-sexy part of getting strong. But just like training smart and training hard, spending thousands of hours in the weightroom is an unavoidable prerequisite to progress.

    Dave Tate has written a great article about putting in the time here, but in addition to his points, I want to directly address the argument about “genetically gifted” athletes. First, you should probably know that I think the idea of good genetics is completely worthless. But moreover, I know that it’s irrelevant. So what if some other dude was breaking records at 17? You can break just as many at 37 – or 47, or even 57, if you’re Dave Ricks.

Don’t bitch and moan that some people don’t have to put in as much time as you. Instead, be grateful that you have the chance to put in that time at all.

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