The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

TAGS: christian anto, meets, plan, Jeff Guller, planning, programming, coaching, powerlifting

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Thank you again for the response to last month’s article. Are we on a roll? For the last two months, we have talked about the conjugate method, first for off-season training and then for meet prep. Now we need to talk about how those plans have to be altered or revised.

There is that old cliché that, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. True, but not always.


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I always plan; however, my plan always has to be altered or revised. I think that sometimes-spontaneous people, those that fly by the seat of their pants, are better off. I cannot really think that way because as I say, I always plan.

It is my considered opinion, however, that those who can alter or adopt a new one in the face of adversity or changed circumstances are the ones who succeed in anything.

As a trial lawyer, I always had a meticulous plan for a trial. That plan, however, was never exactly executed. One fact, one witness, or one sustained objection can change the very best plan. Once I was defending a case where two small airplanes collided at our local airport, and one of the pilots was killed.

The plaintiffs spent a small fortune in having constructed a 20-foot square model of our airport built to perfect scale. Then they hung airplanes with string above the airport to demonstrate what they contended happened. The airplanes were large model planes that distorted what actually happened and were not at all to the scale of the airport.

We objected on those grounds and the whole damn thing was excluded from evidence. That certainly screwed up their plan! Their expert had to testify in only words what he contended happened without the visual aid. They lost, not because of that, but because they had a weak case.

They say the best coaches in all sports are those that can make adjustments in the middle of a game. It is altering a game plan, adjusting a plan to what the opponent is doing. In tennis, it’s called problem-solving, as it is in life.

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As powerlifters, we must have a plan. We also must be able to alter that plan as events unfold. No one plans to miss a first attempt. It’s unthinkable! However, to come back from a missed attempt takes courage and an altered plan.

Once, due to torrential rain, I was late for a meet. I did not have time to warm up properly for the squat. Christian Anto, a teammate at elitefts and an exceptional coach, suggested that I pass my first attempt and warm-up properly. I did. I missed that attempt for depth. He suggested that I increase the weight. I was shocked! He explained that the added weight would help me achieve depth. It did! I would never have altered my plan that way. But a great coach helped with the plan that led to success. I am very fortunate to have so many great teammates.

Speaking of teams, I observed some very good teams at last year’s IPA Worlds. It occurred to me to try to put together a team for this year, and we did. The guy who was the best male lifter at last year’s Worlds is a local, and he is in.

At our gym, there are 308 and 275 guys, both of whom achieved Elite status in the IBP. We also have two young women, one in masters, the other in open, who agreed to join the team, and of course, the little old man. I thought we might do well.

I was even able to secure a sponsor. Josh Devoe of Misfit Powerlifting in Canada agreed to provide us all with hoodies. We will compete as the Misfit Powerlifting Team.

But the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune caused a change of plans. Our 308 tore his rotator cuff and is having surgery. Our 275 decided he was a strongman and participated as such in the Warrior Games on September 7th, and I believe he won.


COMPETITION REPORT: Brute Strength Gym's Spartacus Strongman


There goes the team. We still have four excellent lifters. If we get one more before October 12th, we’ll have a team. If not, we will at least look good.

Speaking of the Warrior Games, I decided to go and just deadlift. I wanted to see the events: kettlebell, CrossFit, powerlifting, and strongman.

I had never seen a kettlebell competition and did not know what they did. I met two competitors at the weigh-in on Friday and asked. They explained that they undertake to do the most reps in 10 minutes. Ten minutes? Are you crazy? I can’t imagine that one can exert maximum effort for that long.

The powerlifting meet was inside with no air conditioning; the other events were outside. I don’t know the weather where you live, but here, it is hot as hell!

Of course, I had a plan for my deadlift competition. I decided on the modified sumo with which I started my career. It puts some torque on my bad knee, but if I wrap it correctly, it’s not so bad.

I planned to do an opener that I had done often and then proceed to a WR. Pretty damn cocky. I did not take the competition as seriously as I should. I walked around like I owned the place.

I was very flattered that a few people recognized me from my articles on elitefts. I chatted with each of them. My head was swelling; too damn cocky! I warmed up properly and was sweating like hell.

When it was my turn, I promptly went over and missed my opener. How in the hell does that happen? Not such a good attitude. What to do about your plan now, bigshot?

But on my second attempt, I got it! I saw a video of the lift. If I were coaching that person, I would scream at them for not getting low enough and driving with their legs.

On my third attempt, I tried to do all those things but still missed the lift. I did not place my underhand wide enough, and the bar helicoptered. I know better; it was my own fault; I do not like how I performed. If all this only served to make me mad, I would have accomplished nothing. I learned. Those mistakes will not happen again!

When there is a long time between meets, I tend to coast. I don’t seem to have the intensity I need — even if I do my plan and hit my numbers, it’s not the same. Doing this meet has increased my intensity for the upcoming IPA Worlds.

The next four weeks will be better than the last. When life gets in the way, you have to make alterations. When relatives arrive because of the hurricane, I might miss a training session. When my back feels crappy, I do Hatfield Squats.

Plans change. Now I feel a little more intense about the upcoming meet. Hopefully, life won’t get in the way of training.


READ MORE: 4 Max Effort Method Principles to Master


The point is we must have a plan. We must not, however, be too stubborn to change that plan when circumstances require it or adversity strikes. We must have the courage of our convictions to change on the fly and execute.

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