Reno Hardcore: Sacrifice

TAGS: sacrifice, reno hardcore, learning, chad aichs, powerlifting

elitefts™ Sunday edition


I was recently ask to give a quote to go along with an article a gentleman wrote for his website. He asked me, "What was the hardest thing or biggest sacrifice I had to make in order to get as strong as I have?" This was an easy question and the first thing I thought of was learning to read my body and not training "balls out" every session every day. This question got me thinking further though. How did I get so strong? I don't have some amazing pedigree for this. Strength never came so easy to me. I wasn't born some huge freaking guy. I wouldn't say I was that much above average and what I was above average, I busted my butt for. So, how did I get so strong? What was the main difference between me and all the other guys out there busting their butts?

Approach to the Sport of Powerlifting

I thought about this for a few days. I tried to think of all the things I did and looked at it from different angles. What I came up with is how I looked at and approached the sport of powerlifting. How I looked at the top lifters in the sport. I spoke many times about how I used to want to do everything myself so that I got all the glory or took all the responsibility if I messed up. After I did my first meet and started training, my thinking changed. I wasn't making the gains I thought I should and I realized I didn't know enough. I wasn't going to be able to do this by myself, I needed help. If I wanted to achieve a top-level, I was going to have to suck up my pride and change how I looked at everything. Looking back now, I knew this was a key changing point for me, not only for strength but for life too.

Shortly after this realization is when I signed up for my first elitefts™ seminar with Dave Tate. I took pages of notes on each lift and pages of notes on training after just one day. I was going to get every bit of information I could out of him. It was all part of my new philosophy, he was obviously stronger then me, so I was going to listen and give everything he said the thought it deserved. I went back to the gym and started from scratch. I was the f---ing six million dollar man and I was going to rebuild myself better, stronger, and more explosive than before because I now had the technology!

Utilizing My New Philosphy

As I got stronger and competed more, it introduced greater opportunities to utilize my new philosophy. I kept meeting stronger and stronger guys. As I did, I listened to everything they said and asked as many questions as I could. I listened and observed them when we were at competitions. I watched how they warmed up, and took mental notes on their technique, how they approached the bar, and what they were doing mentally to get ready to lift heavy weights. There was so much information out there and I felt lucky to have access to it. At the high point, when there was still the WPO, I would be in a hotel lobby a couple days before a competition with 10 of the strongest guys in the world just bullshitting. The stuff I learned and the stories I heard were priceless.

It's crazy to think about how much I heard and learned about strength training over the years because of this philosophy. There's so much information, that it's hard to remember it all. After a while, you get pretty good at weeding through the information and eventually can decide what information is useful to you. At first, you just keep taking it all in and trying it all, but over time you start to learn (or realize) the things that would work well for you. We are all individuals and respond differently to different things, but that doesn't mean there isn't a bit of great information in it somewhere. Taking in information is just like anything else, practice makes perfect. At this point I don't have a flood of new great information coming in, but I still have an ear out and I'm still learning new things. We're always on new ground when it comes to strength. Every time we break into a new level of strength, things change. When we end up getting new injuries, things change. We always need to be willing to learn and adapt, so my philosophy needs to remain constant.


Thinking about this changing point, makes me realize how many lifters I see that do not have this philosophy. I see and read about so many lifters that just seem to criticize other lifters that are stronger or smarter then they are. My first thought of course is to do your talking on the platform, if you feel this way about them, then go beat their numbers. My second thought is, “Are you stupid?” This person is putting up big numbers and ones much bigger than your own. There's probably a reason for it and maybe you should learn from them. Right now, I imagine some idiot is going, “Are you saying I should do steroids just because that person is?” That's not at all what I am saying. I'm just saying if a guy got to a top level in this sport – it's no accident. He knows something or he has a great coach that knows something and either way you can learn from him.

Many people are quick to make up excuses for why someone is so strong. He's on steriods. He's a genetic freak. He used so-and-so gear, etc. I saw plenty of people all jacked up on steroids that are weak. I saw plenty of people in triple-ply gear that don't lift shit. I've bested genetic freaks many times. Yes, all those things can help and may make it easier to get super strong, but you don't get to the highest level just because of them. I never met a top athlete that is completely stupid in their sport. They may be completely stupid in life, but they know about their sport and that's how they got to the top. Most importantly, they realized they were individuals and found ways their body needed them to train. So, I don't care if a guy is juiced up, using triple-ply gear, or if he has the best genetics in the world. If he is great at his sport, he knows something about strength training and I can learn something from him.

Now, you also have to take into consideration who that person is and what he does. If you have shit genetics and you're not using steroids, you probably won't be able to train like someone who does. This still doesn't mean you should discredit the knowledge he has. A guy all jacked up and in huge gear can still give the poor genetic clean guy some great tips and information. It's up to you to realize there's some great learning potential and you just need to adapt it to you. Sometimes I'll look at how a guy trains and think, "Wow, there's no way that would work for me, but right then it gives me an idea for how I can change my current training to better work for me. I still took some information away from that lifter and it was well worth the time spent with that lifter.


One of my favorite lifters is Chuck Vogelpohl. His intensity is legendary and watching him compete is amazing. He has a boatload of strength training information, but the thing I find funny is how so many people try to do his exact training. People even try to dress like Chuck when they lift. They will cut their shirt like him or wear a cap like him. Well, you people are not Chuck. There is only one Chuck and Chuck is a freak! Chuck's training is very intense and Chuck knows his body. Most people won't be able to keep up with him. People will criticize and put down all these other lifters because they don't like them or how they train, but because they love Chuck's intensity, they will train like him. Sorry, but there's little to no logic in that type of thinking. It doesn't matter who you like or look up to. Chuck is one of my favorite lifters of all time, but I know I can't train like Chuck. I can learn a ton of great information from him that I can use, and in fact, I learned lots of great stuff from him (some directly and some indirectly). Chuck's body has a better ability to adapt to super high intensity training than mine does and he recovers much better then I do. So, for me, Chuck is one of those guys I can get lots of great information from, but I'm not going to be able to train exactly like him. Plus, he'll always be one of my favorite guys to watch for motivation! Hey, if you have some extra cash, then buy Chuck's training video because I'm sure you'll get some great information from it and a hell of a lot of motivation. Just be aware that Chuck has been at this a long time, he has a ton of experience, and he has great genetics.

Strong Mind. Strong Body.

There are so many key factors that play a huge role in getting shit ass strong and one of them is how you look at strength and the lifters in it. We need to keep an open mind and always be looking to learn more about strength training. We need to be willing to look and learn from the guys that went before us. As much as it hurts me to say it, we all need help sometimes in life and it's OK to take it (I do think if you take it you should be will to pass it back on later, though). Look at other lifters and training styles as sources of information that can help you get stronger. If you don't like the way a lifter trains, the gear he uses, or the shit he takes; then that's fine, but don't write it off. He didn't lift those huge weights by accident or solely because of the gear and there will be some knowledge that you can use. I also recommend actually talking to lifters when you can. Almost all of the top guys I met are willing to answer questions and help when they can. There's so much B.S. published about strength training that it's just sad. I learned so much more direct from lifters then I ever learned in a class or a book. So keep an open mind, start looking at things from a “what can I learn here?” stand point, and get shit ass strong! It's just as important to have a strong mind as it is to have a strong body!

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