I don’t think I’ve ever actually understood New Year resolutions. Just because it is the start of a new year, we should now resolve to fix bad habits or do things we knew we should have done over the last year? This is all a crock of shit that allows people to procrastinate and be lazy.
We have all heard “I will after the New Year.” If something needs to be changed, change it now. Don’t put it off or make excuses. We should always be on the lookout for things we can improve on and we should always have goals in life. Not just once a year, but every single day. In the spirit of this whole New Year bullshit, I decided to write this article on mistakes I have made and things I want to fix in the future. Understand that I do this all the time, though, and if you want to be a great lifter you must be doing this all the time.
I feel it is important to remember the mistakes we’ve made so we can continue to learn. Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up and, trust me, there are many different ways to fall in life. This article will also cover things I want to keep high in my priority list to improve on, not just the mistakes.
Obstacle #1: Having a Horrible Technique
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my lifting career was having horrible technique. Before powerlifting, I really had no idea about technique and gave it little thought. I just wanted to lift hard and heavy. It wasn’t until I attended my first elitefts seminar that I actually began to understand the importance of technique.
What I learned over my many years in powerlifting is to never forget where I came from and to never believe I know it all. It’s for this reason I have continued to search out new information and even more understanding on technique.
Resolution: To continue my learning of strength, specifically technique. I’m currently planning endeavors to continue my learning by spending time with knowledgeable friends and attending more seminars.
Obstacle #2: Not Trusting Myself
Another enormous mistake I made in my past was not trusting myself. Many of my thoughts were centered around what everyone else was doing and I doubted myself. I had so many ideas when I started powerlifting, but I doubted myself because the masses were not doing anything like what I was envisioning.
It wasn’t until I started meeting more experienced lifters who were doing very similar things to what was rolling around in my head, that I began to trust myself. If you follow the crowd you will only go where they go. If you want to surpass the crowd you must take your own path. Advancements in just about every industry have been initiated by the outliers. This does not mean you have to completely ignore the norm.
It’s okay to start by understanding the basics of something, but do not be afraid to take things further or come up with completely new stuff yourself. Keep in mind, more experiments fail than work, but this is the process to glory.
Resolution: To trust and challenge myself to come up with new ideas. We never know which bad idea will lead us to a great one.
Obstacle #3: Eating Habits
A more current issue that I have been working on is my eating habits. During my more competitive days, I force-fed myself anything and everything because I was just trying to keep up my calories. These days I struggle to make myself eat at all; I’m not a big fan of eating.
Although, I’m discovering that nutrition plays a much bigger role than I ever wanted to believe. In the old days, it was easy for me to say “I am one of the strongest people walking this planet and I eat shit food all the time so how bad could it be?”
Today-old Chad would say to young Chad, “How much stronger and healthier could you be if you ate not only enough food, but better quality food?” This last year, I have been working on eating better quality food and getting enough of it. I’ve also been taking time to analyze how I feel when I do go off the rails. This has been helping me better understand the positive and negative effects our nutrition can have.
Resolution: I will continue to be better at eating not only enough food, but also quality food.
Obstacle #4: Being Realistic with Myself
Understanding and accepting my personal situation is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. In my head, I am every superhero ever invented all wrapped up in one. Any reason for me to back off or limit myself is simply an excuse in my mind. Well, the reality of life and this world is that some things have limitations on them, usually a physical one.
You can’t just will a million dollars in your bank account. You can’t will yourself to be productive 20 hours a day and have your body not give out on you. You can’t gain huge size without eating tons of food. You can’t run a nine second 100-meter sprint just by visualizing it.
Our bodies, and even minds, are basically machines. Yes, they are machines that can repair themselves, but they have limitations to what they can do and how fast they can recover. Everyone knows I am all about the heart and the will. I’m the poster boy for achieving more than I should’ve been able to, but heart and will are not just believing you can do it and then doing it. It’s about having the heart and will to figure out what you need to do in order to reach your goal, and then following through on that.
Part of this is recognizing the limitation of yourself in relation to the world. Then, it’s about finding a way around those obstacles.
Resolution: I continue to work on accepting my sleep, depression, work, and life realities. I refuse to let them block me from reaching my goals, but I have to also face the limitations they do cause in order to overcome them. My life will never be normal, but I will find a balance for my love of strength and lifting, while keeping my sleep and depression in check.
Obstacle #5: Remembering Recovery
This concept arose during a discussion with one of my clients. I can’t really remember ever reading anything like it, but I am sure there is some information out there. It’s an idea that just kind of struck me and I knew I needed to give it more thought.
The concept is that when we tax our body down to a certain level, it takes a multiplied time to recover fully, similar to how some batteries work. If you only drain them to, say, 50 percent, then they can seem to charge pretty quickly. However, once you drain them down to zero, the recharge time more than doubles. I know that if I can catch overtraining or underrecovering right when I hit that edge, it will take less than a week to recover back to a normal state. If I try to squeeze out another week past that point, it may then take two or more weeks to fully recover back to a normal training state.
Resolution: To remember and spend some more time thinking about this concept as well as experiment with it.
Obstacle #6: Clock It
This is one I have always known, but have a tough time sticking to. Each training session should be kept to roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes. Anything after this time frame has diminishing returns. I love being in the gym and I love the people I train, so it’s very easy for me to spend extra time in the gym.
Resolution: My goal is to do a better job of keeping time once training starts. Once time is up, we are done training, period. If we do not finish the training we wanted, then we have to speed it up next time. Talk and bullshit should be done before training or after to maximize training within the allotted time frame.
Obstacle #7: Take it Easy Sometimes
This is another tricky one for me that I need to get better at realizing. You do not always have to do everything to 100 percent and as heavy as possible. Doing everything to failure is actually a bad idea. Yes, we need to train hard and heavy at times but this is not always the case. Serious strength gains can come from submaximal weights.
Resolution: Don’t always go for the max. I need to realize when it’s better for me to lighten it up if I want to get the results I’m looking for.
These are just some of my top goals or resolutions right now. These will of course change throughout the next year because I will not wait a full year to review my priorities and goals. Rather, I’ll review them constantly as the year progresses. I’m always learning and improving. This is something we should all do regularly and it is just as important as physically training our bodies. If you think about it, we as individuals do not have much time on this earth and reviewing our life, goals, mistakes, and successes only once a year is a waste of so much of the short life we do have.