The Power of the Team

TAGS: strength, squat, powerlifting, strength training, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, bench press, training

It’s similar to when your favorite song comes blasting through the speakers at the gym and you get that little extra charge of power for the movement that you’re performing. It isn’t unlike that extra focus you feel when you just know that the folks on the other side of the gym are noticing how much you’re squatting and are asking each other, “How many 45s are on that bar exactly?”

A little external stimulus can affect us both positively and negatively. For example, if you change AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” to Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” with 800 lbs waiting for you in the rack, it could take a little more focus to drive that weight out of the hole.

Lifting with a team is potentially the most positive external stimulus that a powerlifter could ever have. Think about this for a minute. When you’re part of a team, you’re working with people who, just like you, have that internal fire to be a champion, and who, just like you, have the same longing to be the very best that they can be. They share the same realization that life is indeed a collection of moments in time and working toward bringing out the best that is inside you is an investment in both your existence and your essence. And, just like you, they want to work to help their team members reach all of their goals.

Having a true team around you is vastly different from having a lifting partner or some spotters for your lift. With a team, you’re with people who share your philosophy on life, lifting, and competing. They share your zeal for each of the three lifts. The team wants you to be great, and you want them to be great as well. The relationship is completely symbiotic in nature.

Think about some of the best powerlifters. For the most part, they lift on a true team. Louie Simmons has Westside Barbell, a true team; Becca Swanson and Hussey have Big Iron, a true team; and Ernie Frantz has the Frantz Power Team, a true team. When I lift in Aurora with Ernie at Frantz Gym, I’m totally surrounded by champions. However, more importantly, I’m surrounded by the Frantz team, not simply individual champions but individually great lifters who have become champions because of the power of the team. When a legend like Ernie Frantz helps you with your suit, or a many times over WPC World Champion like Bill Nichols crouches down to check your squat depth, or a 1000 lb squatter like Noel Levario cleans the powder off of the bar for your deadlift, that is a team. Every detail is important to you, and it’s important to your team.

Look at a guy like Chuck Vogelpohl. This man could spend his entire life winning meet after meet squatting 850–900 lbs based on nothing but his own freakish power, focus, and explosiveness. However, with the Westside team around him and guys like Angelo Berrardinelli, Louie Simmons, and Rich Wenner, he has claimed his rightful place in powerlifting history as the first man to squat 1000 lbs at 220 lbs of body weight. The power of the true team will always improve the power of the individual.

Can powerlifters become great without the team? Absolutely they can. Would they become even better with a team? Absolutely they would. Dr. Jerry Bellon, the foremost authority on the collaborative team, would tell you to look at the group of guys lifting at the gym together. Are they a collaborative, symbiotic team or nothing more than a group of guys with one strong guy as the glue of the group? Keep in mind that when you put together your team, each member from the strongest to the weakest should have a key role on the team.

If you’re a 400 lb squatter within a team of 900 lb squatters, you might be the member of the team who everyone trusts with racking the monolift. Or maybe you’re the one who makes sure that the bar is loaded properly or the one who sees that the CD is changed from song eight to song nine because everyone hates song eight. Being part of a true team is about functionality, utility, caring, and concern. It isn’t based on your 2300 lb total or how many state, national, or world records you hold. It’s based on what you bring to the table for the betterment of the true, collaborative team.

Whether your goals are world records or personal records, the team that you build or become a part of should be a mirror of your moral compass and your lifting goals, both long-term and short-term. Your team should be solid enough to grow stronger from the diversity and challenges that will undoubtedly occur within the team itself. Never forget that when you find yourself thinking that a small group of individuals couldn’t possibly change the world, always remember that that is the only thing that ever has.

Eric Maroscher is a two time WPC World powerlifting champion, a two time APF National powerlifting champion, and a WPC North American powerlifting champion. For more information, visit his website at www.monstergaragegym.com. 

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