What is your vision for 2020? I don’t mean your eyesight; do you have a plan or goals for your training or meets? Some of us want to get stronger, some not to lose strength, some to stay healthy or get in shape, others to look like Arnold, and some just to look good naked. Whatever your reason to train; what is your vision? Where do you want or expect to be this time next year? We can’t tell the future and we don’t know what next year will bring. I have learned that it is impossible to be smart for the future and difficult enough to be smart for the present. That, however, is not a reason not to have a vision or goals for your training.

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I'm not suggesting you make a series of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think they work and try not to do them myself. I’m always striving to get stronger and lighter and these are things that cannot be accomplished without a plan. I can’t get stronger without a program and I can’t lose weight by eating anything I want.

Invariably life happens and plans change, but there has to be a structure. Once a plan is made, it must be executed to the best of your ability. A great plan won’t work with our ass on the couch; we must get to the gym to execute it. How often have we heard “I don’t feel it today” or “I don’t feel motivated”?

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If we waited until we were properly motivated, we would never go. It’s not about motivation, but about discipline! Discipline must become part of who you are. Your partner shouldn’t ask if you’re going to the gym today. They should ask “What time are you going to the gym today?”

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For example, an ex-military person I know keeps gaining weight and comes to the gym less frequently. He says he is just not motivated. I wonder if his drill sergeant asked if he was motivated each day before a two-mile run in a full pack. It’s not about motivation it’s about discipline!

What do you do when you get to the gym? How much effort do you put into your plan? Did you give 100 percent last time you were in the gym? Why not? On max effort days, do you do all your accessory exercises? I don’t personally because my max effort day beats my ass. Instead, I do what I can and do the rest another time. Even if you do self-regulation and don’t get as far as you intended, 100 percent is still a must.

We can all agree that we go to the gym to be better than we were before. We can’t complain about the results we didn’t get because of the work we didn’t do. Like the old saying goes, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” We call it work. However, if we didn’t enjoy it or were not in the gym for a purpose, we wouldn’t be there at all. Don’t treat it as work or something you dread doing; be there because you want to be. It’s not a luxury afforded to everyone.

Remember that you don’t have to be a great athlete to be a great lifter. It helps, but it is not required. What is necessary, though, is 100 percent effort every time you are in the gym. There is only one outstanding lifter at every meet. You can bet that they are the one hundred percenters. My demographic is not likely to win best lifter, but we often are and always should be one hundred percenters.

We have to give 100 percent to prevent or restore lost muscle and bone density. While we know that cardio (ugh) is good for us, science has now determined that weight training is more important for seniors. While arthritis may have limited our joint movement, it’s more important than ever that we move those joints. We must keep all the range of motion that we can and strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around them. With all these considerations, it makes perfect sense for someone my age to be a powerlifter. I firmly believe that, as does my primary care physician.

Whether you intend to compete or not, lifting heavy weights based on an established program (think conjugate) is one of the best things seniors can do to stay strong. For me, competing is a natural consequence of working hard in the gym, lifting heavy weights, and trying to get stronger. And for those of you seniors whose children don’t call, weight training may ease or prevent depression. Researchers found that resistance training reduced symptoms of depression and trainees had less chance of becoming morose or sad than people who did not train. I know that I’m preaching to the choir. While lifting may have been cool in our 20s, it’s essential in our 50s, 60s, and beyond.

That said, are you satisfied with where you are right now? If not, what are you going to do about it? Truthfully, I’m not satisfied either, but I have a vision for 2020. I have a plan to execute it and it’s realistic, albeit a little scary. I’ve written down numbers that I have the ability to achieve if I work hard with great discipline. I just hope that life doesn’t interfere too much.

If you want to do the same, I suggest you have a 2020 vision. Make a realistic plan for that vision and diligently execute it throughout the year. This can and should be done not only in powerlifting, but also bodybuilding, CrossFit, and general fitness. In fact, I’ll make one of those challenge things with you. Write down your vision, in my case the three lifts I intend to make. Then, make your plan and execute it all year. Let’s see to what extent we have succeeded next year at this time.

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