Monster Garage Gym: Time

TAGS: meet training, max effort movements, Eric Maroscher, training cycle, meet preparation, powerlifting

The other day I was talking to "The Fetus." (For clarification purposes, "The Fetus" is young Nick. He's a 15-year-old in a gym of 20- to 50-year-olds, thus the name that will, unfortunately for him, stick with him forever at Monster Garage Gym.)

The conversation went a little something like this...

“Fetus, in your opinion, what is the most precious thing at Monster Garage Gym and why?”

Well, the Fetus is young, but he isn't stupid, so he took his time and really pondered the question. His first response was, “The elitefts™ monolift?”

This was a great answer but not the correct one. The monolift is perhaps the most expensive thing at the gym and also one of the most utilized and valued things, but that doesn't make it the most precious.

The Fetus thought some more. He then said, “The weight that Ernie Frantz made for you?”

The weight he was referring to was a gift from Ernie Frantz. When Ernie was a young man, he made iron molds and, with those molds, he made his first set of iron weights. As a gift, Ernie painted one of his original 2.5-pound weights gold. Inside the hole made for a barbell, he fixed into place a gold medal from a WPC World Championship. This was a great answer by the Fetus because the weight is the gym’s most irreplaceable and most meaningful item, but it isn't the most precious.

Nick "The Fetus" and the "King" Ed Coan

Then the Fetus started to really think. “A lifter's determination? Is that the most precious thing in the gym?”

Now we were getting somewhere. The Fetus was praised for his deep thinking as much as Grasshopper was in that amazing television series from the 1970s, Kung Fu. (Don’t know it? Look it up because it is more than Google worthy.)

The answer to the question, we told the Fetus, is ‘time.’ Time is the most precious thing a lifter has in the gym.

There is that classic album, Dark Side of the Moon (again, a lesson from the 1970s), with the song titled “Time.” As the lyrics go, "...you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today…then the one day you find ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…and you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking racing around to come up behind you again…"

Although not so dramatic as the Floyd track, the point we were trying to illustrate to the young Nick was related to his training cycle and time on task while at the gym. As a teenager, he has qualified for his first AWPC RAW Worlds. As a newer lifter, it is sometimes difficult to judge the pace at which to train. Here's how we broke it down for the Fetus. Perhaps it will help some of you because when it comes to a meet, time and preparation can be deceptive demons.

To Eric Maroscher from Ernie Frantz

Here's the scenario—the meet is two months away, time enough for an eight-week cycle. That seems like a good chunk of time to train. Because there are two complete months of training, not every workout is vital. However, this is an incorrect assumption, as the opposite is actually the case. Each training session is of the utmost importance because even though the meet is two months away and the cycle is eight weeks long, neither of these statements is necessarily true when it comes to time under the bar.

Let’s explore this critically. Two months or eight weeks is the literal amount of time between the start of the cycle and the meet. The average month has 744 hours, thus two months means that you literally have 1,488 hours until the meet. However, if you look at the typical training week (let’s go with a four-day training week with two max effort days and two dynamic days because that is currently one of the most in vogue methods today), eight weeks is really only seven max effort training days because week eight is typically for resting.

Of those seven max effort squat days, there are typically four working sets of max effort weight. So if you're a lifter who trains in heavy singles or heavy doubles, you're literally only taking seven weeks of max effort squats for four working sets at each of those max effort squat sessions performing, let’s say, two repetitions within those four max effort sets. Added up, that comes to not two months of training nor 1,488 hours but just 28 working sets and 56 reps of time under the bar. Let me say that again—you're a mere 56 max effort squat reps away from the meet.

That extremely low number means that each and every training squat must be fully taken advantage of. If you really want to go crazy, the average squat (let’s say a real grinder of a squat) is eight to ten seconds long, so you don’t have two months of max effort sessions. You have about ten minutes of actual under the bar max effort squats. The same goes for your deadlift and bench training. That whole eight-week cycle can literally be broken down into sets and reps and even hours and minutes. So rather than have it all blend together, perform your squats, benches, and deadlifts when training as if they were your last training set so that each rep of each set is an all-out effort and you're fully utilizing this amazingly short window of training opportunity.

Time as a concept is self-evident. It is comprised of seconds, minutes, hours, years, eons, and the like, but if there was a true cognition of time, we would all probably either start weeping or checking off the bucket list. That isn't how we typically live our lives though. We waste an hour here or even a day there.

As powerlifters, we can understand the power of time as it relates to our training. If the powerlifter lets it, time will have its way with him just as the lyrics to the Floyd song imply. However, as a powerlifter, whether a newbie or veteran, my thought is this—grab time by the throat, choke it like it stole your last dollar, and get every single drop out of the time you have in the gym. Don’t let time have its way with you. Utilize time the best you can because there isn't any catching it or stopping it. By best utilizing time, the ultimate skilled thief, you have the advantage. So until there is a multi-ply flux capacitor or a "way back" machine, train like every session in your cycle is the most important because to truly achieve the best results that you can, each session is the most important.

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