At The Crossroads

There has always been some confusion in the weight room. The problem is simply that nobody really has an interest in studying EXTREME STRENGTH. Who needs it? If a coach can get his team all benching 350 and squatting 550, how much more strength above that will actually pay dividends on the field?

The truth is that there will be a diminishing returns phenomenon in effect. You can argue about the precise numbers in selected lifts, but still, once you come down on a number, you will find it is WAY, WAY below what the athlete is capable of producing if they dedicated themselves to it. Also, that number you decide on will be even further below the best competitive lifts in raw divisions. That explains why the NFL is not funding maximal strength research.

There is no demand for that knowledge because there is no application for that amount of strength...anywhere except the gym itself and the competition platform.

What I'm saying is that ANY coach worth his paycheck can (and should) get his athletes to a high enough level of strength to be reasonably protected from injury, and to have plenty of power to perform their duties in the sport.

We ALREADY know exactly how to do this. Exercise physiology had its heyday in the '70s to '90s. We learned so much that people became disinterested in strength research. Not you or I, of course, but science in general and most importantly, the people who fund the studies. So, above a certain level (which I will allow you to debate) not many of us are even remotely interested in excessive strength development.

My point is that the dearth of REAL SCIENCE has opened a gap for pseudoscience. Worse still, a breeding ground for unsubstantiated OPINION. The only people doing any inquiry into maximal strength development are those who compete in the lifts or have done so in the past.

Let me assure you, folks, these people ARE NOT scientists! They stumble in the dark and blind leads blind until they trip, by accident mostly, over some part-way useful technique or strategy. For them, science and fact have no clout. Their ONLY claim is the success they have had. If it worked for them, then it's "got to be" good.

They live on the anecdotal and shun the empirical. They can't tell you why it works, but they will swear it does. When you have " true believers" doing the "studies" about strength, you get about the same results you do when you ask the owner of a pizza joint where the best pizza in town is. This reliance on anecdotal evidence is not always bad. People follow the herd when the herd is going in a direction they are OK with. It can be useful.

But this is the thing, following a less-than-ideal training protocol can get you quite a way downstream, but there is a come-to-Jesus moment when you have exhausted the limits of the technique and exposed its shortcomings.

THIS is precisely when you should re-evaluate your thinking. YOU ARE AT THE CROSSROADS, MY FRIEND. Congrats! You must be pretty damn strong. You should be proud of yourself. But you want EXCESSIVE strength. And what got you here may not be what will take you onward. You have been so successful with what you have done as a beginner and intermediate lifter that you MISTAKENLY believe that more and more of the same will take you further and further.

This is a common fantasy among lifters on the precipice of entering the higher levels. I will offer you this to think about... if you keep doing what you have always done... you will get what you always got. What brought you to this point has done exactly that.. brought you to THIS POINT.

Now, we must ask what will take us to the NEXT point? It will NOT, I assure you, be simply more of the same. This is the very reason so many good lifters fail to become great lifters. They are chained to the past. They are married to their routine. The comfort of the familiar is addictive. They will not let go and they, therefore, will NOT move on.

If you look around, you will notice them... everywhere you look! No progress for year after year. Please take a hard look at yourself and commit to being open to adaptation. There are many paths to the future. There are many false prophets.

But I'll give you some reassurance right now. The truth is that we operate at a very small percentage of our true capacity. I heard the Navy SEALs tell the recruits it's only 30%.

The good news is that you don't need to feel overwhelmed by choices in how to train. If you believe the SEALs and J.M. Blakley, we operate far below what we are able to. If everyone is going at about 30% and our best athletes are somewhere above that, say 50%, then if you can just develop 51% of your potential you become the world's best!

I know this because I know a guy. Take this to heart. No matter what it is that you want to do, the best guy in the world doing it is operating way below his, and likely your, FULL POTENTIAL. You can probably beat him. Yup. Probably.

If you don't know the story of Sir Roger Bannister and the breaking of the 4-minute mile, you don't know anything about going past "limits." Read about that guy. Then ask yourself why records keep being broken? Are humans evolving and just getting better? Or are we uncovering what has been there all the time?

I think it is a holdover from earlier times when only the strongest survived. They gave us the gene pool we have today. THEY put their fitness on the line every day just to survive. In the end, I know that there are lots of programs to choose from and the science is lacking. Not everybody can see through the bullshitters and the conmen.

You have to do your best. But it may be of some comfort to know that I believe the program you choose is less important than the commitment that you apply yourself to it is.

Lots of champs have shitty form and poor training discipline. They are able to get 45 or 50% from themselves. And that beats the rest of us because we think that our 35% is our max! IT'S NOT. LISTEN TO ME...IT'S NOT. You are nowhere near what you can do. Even with a less than perfect choice in training, you can beat those guys if you can find access to a little over 1/2 your potential. Hell, maybe you can show us 75% and blow our minds. Bannister did. He's just one example.

If you want to blow your mind, watch Bob Beamon's world record long jump on youtube. Where was THAT hiding? I submit it was there all the time. At 53%. He found it, so can you. Yes, you need to choose wisely the program you follow. But I'm betting you are spending ALL your time developing your body.

I'm advocating for spending more time developing your fire, your heart, your drive. With these things, you can overcome any poor choices you have made in training protocol. I'm a big believer in technique. I'm a big believer in the " best" program. But I'm a bigger believer in the attitude and desire and will power of an athlete as well as the other "inside" factors to winning.

I am putting forth the theory that you WILL GET FARTHER by developing the inside than the outside. I'm challenging you to re-evaluate your place and consider new ideas. I'm challenging you to develop what is, in my opinion, the most neglected part of athletics...the mind and heart.

Interestingly, there IS ongoing research of a scientific nature about our mental abilities. You don't have to take someone's word for it. It's real and it is wonderful. It gives hope and excites me for the future.

If you are stuck in the mud, it may be because you are not embracing new ideas. You are left with "experts" and hearsay. But if you can open up to the science ABSOLUTELY POURING out about the reserves and power of the mind and "spirit," I think you are on the way to unlocking a few more percentage points of potential that lie dormant just waiting for a reason.

So don't just listen to anybody, but don't be overwhelmed and fret about finding the absolute best program. Worry instead about developing the very under-attended inner components to yourself. Then learn to give more and more of "all you got" to the program you have chosen.

Don't be afraid of change. One change you must not be afraid of whatsoever is the inner side of every athlete. If you are, you will certainly be left behind. IT IS THE FUTURE OF TRAINING. Remember I said that.

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