LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast Clip — Dave Tate and JM Blakley Discuss Their Powerlifting Careers Ending

TAGS: retire from powerlifting, quit powerlifting, no PRs, lose, JM Blakley, table talk, dave tate

COACH columnist

How do you know when it’s time to quit?

A lot of competitors don’t want to quit. They also don’t want to hang around if they know they can’t increase their total. The simple solution: don't admit you have a problem. Beware, eventually, it starts to get impossible to deny the toll that has been taken on your body.

Dave Tate first contemplated quitting when he tore his pec. He tore it in a meet while benching, and wanted to delay the surgery, however, it didn’t get any better on its own. He could still mostly use his arm by relying on his delts and triceps, but when a month had passed and he was unable to unrack a bar on a bench press and he couldn’t do an unweighted chest fly off of the ground he started looking into getting his pec tendon surgically reattached. Then came his powerlifting rebirth. He decided to start training at Westside Barbell and embracing the conjugate system instead of linear periodization. At that point, what did he have to lose? He hadn’t PR’d his total in four years and he was still getting injured. He decided to go all in on changing his training style and not look back at “what ifs” from that point on. He was going to go 100 percent in and accept the outcome. 

However, eventually, all powerlifting careers come to an end. There are two ways in which a powerlifting career can end. Sometimes it is taken from you by injury, but if you’re lucky enough, you get to pick a proper time to exit the sport on your own terms. If it is taken from you and you didn’t already plan an exit strategy for how to live your life you can often be left grieving. Imagine: one of your top priorities and often a way you defined yourself... ripped away.

This is where Dave and JM Blakley had slightly different exits. JM started to weigh the consequences the longer he competed. Every meet prep he would see fewer results of each training cycle but greater joint pain. As he continued, the pain grew until he had to ask if the diminishing results were worth a rapidly decreasing quality of life. He told himself he would try for one more meet, but when he finished he knew he didn’t want to continue any longer.

No matter where you are in your powerlifting journey, make sure you are developing some form of after plan. One day you’ll be done powerlifting whether you like it or not.

Text By Mason Nowak

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