Confession: I Hate The Off Season

I didn't always hate the off season. I mean, when I am growing and lean I still hate them but not as much. On a scale of 1-10, I typically hate the off season at about a 4. When I'm TRT, not as lean, and I'm pushing poundages that I always push or pull, it is about as boring as cardio, shaving my body or weekly meal prep -- of which I hate all three, equally.

When I'm lean, growing and progressing, I enjoy the off season at about a 5. Not much difference, right? EXACTLY. Basically, I enjoy the off season only slightly more when things are going the way I want them to go.

I hate feeling stuffed or full all of the time from eating, even if I am lean. When I say I hate it, I mean I would rather be starving than feel stuffed. I have always been that way. I hate that I feel pregnant from the food, and I hate when my body weight starts to get higher because I don't feel as healthy. This is exactly why I backed off on bulking many years ago. I was tired of the constant gas, shitting, breathing heavy, and feeling like my head was going to explode during squats. I got to the point where I thought I was going to cause a brain aneurism if I tried to bench on a decline. 

Now, I do believe that I (and a lot of people) can still make good gains while staying relatively lean. Bitch is, the gains are much slower and so are the strength increases. After training for 36 years, this equates to BORING in the sense that even if I hit a PR, it is anti-climactic in that, "big shit deal" sort of way. Yay, I did 10 more pounds than ever on barbell rows. As long as I have been training, I should be able to do bent rows like Dusty Henshaw rowing 500 pounds for reps. Progressive overload becomes a laugh when you train long enough to realize that strength gains aren't "to infinity and beyond."

I said that I would no longer play the age card, but I just feel that I have to in relation to off season training because it has to be taken into consideration. Outside of my lower back issues from 5 years ago, I have been fortunate to not have many major injuries in the gym over the last 36 years. Though I am not terribly bright, one thing I have figured out over time is that the very large majority of my injuries -- major and minor -- have taken place when I was training very heavy. Even when you do everything right and have great form, the longer you train, the more likely  you will injure yourself. So, my focus these days when I am training is to train my balls off and basically try to out-train everyone in the gym. I cannot, however, out-lift everyone in the gym and never will. Even in my "prime" I could not do that, but I know damn sure that trying to do that now would be a recipe for disaster. So, when I hit a PR it is not as much that I am trying to hit a top weight, as it is that I feel so good and the weights feel so much lighter that I can take the weight up higher and, as a side note, hit a PR. Going into the gym for every training session brings a sense of anxiety -- whether it seems negative or not -- that "this might be the day that I fuck myself up." This mindset takes away from some of the fun of training, sometimes. Now, add a partially ruptured gluteus medius to the equation and even "trying out" bodyweight lunges will make your adrenaline surge. 

Of course, I'm not complaining as much as I'm saying that as the years go by, there are things that make training in the off season more of a chore or obligation than something that is downright enjoyable. I don't ever think, "awesome, I have to train today and I can't wait!!" It's more an apathetic approach saying, "I have to train today."

This is exactly why I enjoy cutting phases so much. I can lock in so much easier because changes are seen weekly, if not daily. When I see obvious changes in my physique, for me, it feeds my motivation. I also have this odd "self-torture" thing going on where I basically ask myself, "how much can you tolerate, Skip?" It is far more challenging to me than the off season ever will be. I feel much healthier at a lower body fat level, I clearly look sexier -- that's a given, and I like that I don't feel stuffed into my clothes.

Because I have done this for so long, I know that when I shift gears in November and I am able to train legs again at 100%, I will feel better about the off season than I do now. I just can't wait to have that 4 jump to a 5 again. Right now, I will just push through, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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