The Pursuit of Strength

TAGS: patient, analysis, Procrastinating, Ken Whetham, set goals, social media, newbie, confidence, success, powerlifting

It’s time to start traveling in the right direction. It’s time for you to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed in the Iron Game.

Anyone in strength sports will be able to give you an account of the journey they embarked upon for gaining strength. Chances are there were a lot of twists, turns, hills, valleys and maybe even driving off the cliff a couple of times before everything came together in a nice, neat little package.

There are so many training programs available like Westside, The Cube, Wendler’s 5/3/1, Linear Progression, Progressive Accumulation, Smolov, Sheiko and so much information available through social media for training, programming, rehabilitation, nutrition, recovery and injury prevention. For the most part, it is very confusing for the average person to sift through the mountains of training or program data to establish what is viable and what is broscience or smoke and mirrors.

It is no wonder that so many people getting started in the strength game are led astray. They end up spending an enormous amount of time and effort trying to achieve their goals, when their training resembles a cork erratically floating down the river — they have no real sense of direction.

One thing I know for sure is that all high-end lifters share several qualities: They are consistent. They train hard. They train heavy. They work on their weaknesses. Getting strong doesn’t happen overnight; these guys spend years working to improve their strength and their technique. They train with heart and determination. They are dedicated and committed and possess and insatiable desire to not be average! They’ve digested mountains of information, tried numerous programs and techniques. They have extracted gold nuggets from everything they’ve done, and eliminated fluff to find what works best to continually produce results.

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I still consider myself a newbie in powerlifting, yet I’ve found relatively good success in a short period of time. I’ve done this by abiding to the principals that work not only in lifting but in all aspects of life. Follow these methods and you’re bound for success.

Seek Out the People Who Know

Why waste time trying to figure something out when other successful people have already figured it out for you? Seek out experts and ask them your questions. The powerlifting community is full of great people willing to offer advice and share their experience and knowledge. When I first started competing, I was fortunate enough to travel to Westside and talk to Louie, who was one of the most accommodating and nice guys I’ve ever met. He talked to me about his training, how he set it up, and why it works. He has been very inspirational and has allowed me to come back to train on numerous occasions. Every time I go it is unbelievable how much I learn.

I contacted Dan Green through social media. He helped me in my process of converting to sumo deadlifting. He helped me overcome obstacles, and I still utilize much of his advice.

I’ve talked to many members of elitefts and work closely with Chad Aichs. He has helped me tremendously to develop better technique and build bigger strength.

Powerlifters are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They look intimidating with their large frames and slabs of muscle bursting through their shirts like hundreds of pounds of beef, but they’re friendly.

You must be willing to travel to train. I think nothing of my eight hour drive to train at the elitefts™ S4 compound. I’ve flown to Reno, Nevada to be with my Big Brother Chad Aichs (who is one of the best lifters and technicians in the sport…and he intimidates the hell out of me).

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The bottom line is to source out people who know what they’re talking about and have proven it with a track record of competing and training lfiters who are rocking the powerlifting stage. Meet them in person, find eBooks, watch DVDs, use social media, and do whatever you need to in order to learn. Elitefts is the best resource with an endless supply of content on powerlifting, nutrition, strongman, bodybuilding, equipment, and media.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

Why struggle to learn and stay focused by yourself? Try to find a group of people in your area that have similar goals and experience lifting. I am extremely fortunate to have found a group of lifters in the Toronto area who I train with. I would never be competing without this crew and the help they give me.

If you are able to seek out a group of people who train with the same goals as you, I guarantee that you will progress faster and get stronger than you ever thought possible.

Set Goals

You need to set goals that are small and attainable. This will keep you motivated to progress. If you don’t set goals to squat a certain weight or hit a new bench, it’s hard to find the motivation to get better.

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The best way to learn powerlifting is to compete. Find a meet a few months away in your area and register to compete. Nothing will light a fire under your ass more than knowing that you have an upcoming competition. You’ll be forced to get an idea of how to get ready, how to ramp up your training and rest to peak at the right time, and how to mentally prepare for competition. After every meet you’ll learn something more about what does or doesn’t work for you. Remember: every day is school day. Learn from your mistakes!

Stop Procrastinating and Do the Work!

How many times have you talked to people who are going to start their training program next week? After the holidays? After their kids have graduated? Once the planets are perfectly aligned? I think you get the idea.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Warriors, and everyone else. Become a warrior with training and with your desire to excel at everything. My father used to always tell me, “If you’re going to do something, do it right. There’s no reason to do anything half-assed.” I live that mantra and cannot imagine being wired any other way.

Forget the excuses. Get to work. I used to make excuses that I’d never be a good bencher because of my Boeing 747 wingspan. If I were an orangutan, other orangutans would make fun of me for my arms being twice as long as theirs. I had to get over these excuses to keep building my bench. You are the only person who has control over your future.

Success Breeds Confidence, Confidence Breeds Success

If you told me last year that I would squat in the mid 800s or that I would win my division at the WPC World Championships I would have asked you how much you glue you have been huffing.

I’ve only been lifting since October 2012. At that time I could squat just over 400 pounds raw. When I found my training partners in Toronto, I competed at my first meet in April 2013 and squatted 705 pounds at 48 years old. My second meet eight weeks later I squatted 737. The point is, I have pushed myself to lift more than I thought I could ever lift. This has already made me more confident. When I compete at the Arnold in March, my goal is to squat 900 pounds.

When you start to get the confidence that you can lift and achieve your goals, you will push yourself beyond any limitations you previously set for yourself. I will squat 1000 pounds within the next two years. I have to believe I can achieve to push myself. That’s what Warriors do.

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Find Out What Works for You

Everyone is different. You are not going to respond to the program the same as your training partners do. Your age, ability to recover, work and rest schedule, sleep patterns, and food intake will determine your success. It will take time to figure out what works best for your schedule and life commitments, but having a plan with a certain amount of flexibility is necessary.

I used to be extremely regimented about my training schedule and lifted as planned, no matter what. After a long night shit, after staying up all night, when I was feeling exhausted and terrible — I lifted, even if my training and my progress suffered. I’ve adopted the philosophy that you must be somewhat flexible with your training schedule. If shift-work throws a wrench in my energy levels, I skip a day and pick up where I left off once I’m feeling close to a normal human being again.

Don’t be scared to try a few different variations and see if you respond better to a different training template. My biggest deadlift gains happened after I started alternating my deadlift and squat weeks. The training that I found works best for me is very simple: each week I have one shirted bench session, one geared squat session, one dynamic bench session, one dynamic squat session. Every other week I replace the dynamic squat session with deadlifts. By making small changes over time, I found what was best for me.

Don’t Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis

If you’re on a program and it’s working, don’t get distracted by another shiny object or new training program. These is so much information and so many different programs that a lot of people try Plan A for a few weeks, then switch to Plan B before Plan A has had a chance to work. After Plan B, Plan C is already in the lifter’s eye. I know lifters who constantly change programs and make very little progress.

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All of the best lifters and top competitors have one thing in common: their training is simple. Almost ridiculously simple! Training doesn’t have to be complicated. If you squat, deadlift, bench, and are adding small increments of time, you’re getting stronger. I’ve found that raw lifters are able to lift more often and geared lifters need more recovery for their central nervous systems. Lift heavy, lift smart, and lift often.

Be Patient

Squatting 1000 pounds or deadlifting 800 pounds won’t happen quickly. Lifters that are tremendously strong have been training for years to reach the elite level they’ve achieved. They deserve a tremendous amount of respect for their perseverance, dedication, and commitment. They are Warriors!

Be patient. If you’re dedicated to lifting heavy and lifting often, you will progress. You will become a stronger lifter.

Apply the principles outlined in this article to help you along the path of becoming a better lifter. Get in the gym and start lifting!

Stay Strong!

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