We Are Just Cavemen With Smart Phones

TAGS: distraction in the weightroom, text messaging, pain of regret, pain of discipline, human invention, human development, training session, technology, Eric Maroscher, powerlifting, strength training

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Over the generations we, as the human species, move ever-onward. We trek forward in life through the days, months, years, decades, and generations. Individually, we progress through the duration of our own life (78.7 years is the average life expectancy in the US) and during that lifetime we see and experience a full broad spectrum of the changes occurring around us.

During this span of a lifetime there are countless developments. Two of these are societal development and the development of new technology, (and hopefully during our personal lifetime, we show some develop as individuals and collectively as a species).

But for the majority of these developments, especially developments in technology, they are really a cyclical repetition. Each generation in society views itself as the most sophisticated generation that has ever been (technologically, we are always as advanced as we have ever been. Thus for the time frame in which they exist, that society in that given generation is the most technologically advanced society ever.


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The humans in the 1600’s were the most technically advanced humans ever…until the 1700’s, then the 1800’s. In the 1600’s there was the development of the telescope, the submarine, the blood transfusion, the adding machine, and the pocket watch. In the 1700’s was the development of the fire extinguisher, the thermometer, the lightning rod, the telegraph, and the dictionary. In the 1800’s, there was the development of the battery, the printing press, the photograph, cement, and the typewriter. It is a pretty safe bet that if you had spent your life without a battery, or having never seen a photo of yourself (no selfies back then, kids), once you acquired that technology, you of course would think that you are the most advanced version of human that has ever walked the Earth.

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Truth be told, we, the collective we, did not invent this technology. We, the collective we, USE this invented technology. I heard Joe Rogan say something to the effect of, “let’s put you in the jungle like pre-historic man, give you an axe, and see how long it takes you to develop email.” How about that same statement but back it up to the 1600’s where most feel “man was so primitive” and put you in the same jungle and see how long it takes you just to produce a telescope or pocket watch? We use technology, we flaunt technology, we sometimes don’t even appreciate technology, and we often misuse technology because there is a world of difference between the brilliant minds who create the technology and the average minds who squander that technology.

“Oh man, I can only get one bar on my phone in here, this technology blows.” So sorry that all the brain power from the dawn of man up until now that it took to develop the technology to put a satellite into orbit around the planet Earth only gets you one bar on your smart phone. So sorry you couldn’t “LIKE” that cat-meme your friend posted, or post the photo of that donut you are eating.

Because we only live for such a short time in relation to time as a whole and because we are constantly growing as a person, we fall into the illusionary trap of feeling or thinking that the “now,” this time in history is the most advanced, or the most tumultuous, or the most loving or the most hate filled.

When we watch the news, we are impressed with the apps and at the same time troubled at the issues we see around us. Because our frame of reference is so short, we sometimes feel like this is the most violent time in the history of mankind. As scary as things are, and they are scary and troubling and sad, during a six year period (one generation ago) some 60 million people were killed (that is 3% of the population of mankind then) during the six-year duration of World War II. That is 10 million people a year during a time span less than a two-term presidency. So a little thrust and parry of contemporary politicians viewed through the deeper lens of time and history allows us the truer perspective, which is this political cycle is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the history of politics or conflict on a global scale.

My larger point is, history does repeat itself, be it through violent events like wars, or triumphant events like unraveling the fabric of DNA. The reality is we—the collective we—use technology and we ride on the coat-tails of the 0.0001% who create the battery, the electric light, discover the secrets of double helix, split the atom, send a man to the moon and return him safely to the Earth. Technology has changed, people have not.

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So what in the world does this have to do with training? It has EVERYTHING to do with training. As lifters we so often are looking for the latest technological advantage, be it a supplement, or a top secret soviet training program, or power inducing combination of movements. Surely with all of the technological advancements out there, I should be able to unlock my full potential in half the time and reach those pro-elite totals — if only I had the perfect gear, program, PEDs, vitamins, environment, etc.

What has made people great over history with regard to creating this amazing technology that we enjoy today, and incidentally will be outdated when someone else discovers this article in three year’s time, are the same ingredients that have made lifters great over the history of strength sports. The great inventors never gave up; they constantly looked at their obstacles as challenges and figured out a way to move past those plateaus and onto new successes. With regard to athletes and the strength game, the same applies. You pick out who you personally think are the five greatest lifters in our sports history and you will see that if you look at them as a collective group, they all have a different training program, different gear, different technique, are from different eras, have different builds, and trained at different gyms. But the thread that runs through them all is hard work, perseverance, self-control, an indomitable spirit, a well thought-out plan, the ability to assess their progress, and an ability to assess their weaknesses.


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Technology moves forward, but we are the same.  We are still the caveman and cavewoman only with smart phone technology. To that end, physically, we are all made of the same DNA as the humans who came before us. The DNA inside of Paul Anderson, or Don Reinhoudt, or Vasily Alekseyev, or Ernie Frantz, or Dave Tate, or Ed Coan, or you is essentially the same as the DNA of the gladiators who fought in the arena in the Roman Republic from 509 BC-27 BC. To rise to the top of your own genetic potential (because it is really about you vs you), is not about one external thing, but a load of internal things. You CAN control those variables.

Fast forward to the gym of today and the inside is chock-full of folks checking their social media status in between each and every set. Truth be told, this is an old scenario, but with a different and technological look to it. It is the same because there have always been sheep, and there have always been shepherds; there have always been followers and there have always been leaders. Thus, there are those who just go to the gym and others who train and train with a purpose and with a plan and with a goal and with insight and with a work ethic and a crystal clear razor sharp vision of where they want to be and how to get there. Those who check their smart phone every five minutes are cut from the same average cloth as those who were the spectator watching the gladiators. Some will go through life as a spectator, others will live life as a competitor, be it against other lifters or against their own personal best. Point being, the great ones don’t look for an external means to generate their success in the weight room — they look inward and create it.

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Technology moves forward at an exponential rate. Mankind as a species evolves at a snail’s pace. It could be argued that as a society, we are actually de-evolving. In either case, this is where the “you” as the individual creates their own here and now and future in the sport by looking inward and onward. By putting in the work in the weight room and leaving the search for the “magic pill, program, PED, or whatever extrinsic force” to those who lack the internal fortitude you personally possess to continue to strive for your own personal success.

Let the other lifter continue texting, you continue training. Don’t be a casualty to the distraction of technology. As annoying as that can be in the gym, look at the other guy/gal texting their training session away as a positive affirmation that you are on the right path. Each time they pick up that smart phone and get lost in the artificial world of social media is one more step, one more rep, one more set you take past them as you continue to hone in on the here and now of your training.

Years ago at a nationals back around 2000-2001 Ernie Frantz told me not to wear my watch or to look at the time during a meet. That one comment some 15 years ago always stuck with me and it applies to today as well, perhaps even more so.

We are truly cavemen and cavewomen in the grand scheme of technological advancement, but as an individual, keeping true to the goals and focus of your own personal growth in the sport is where you can authentically measure your own advancement. In a time of how many likes did this get? how many comments did that get?, keeping on the authentic path of you vs. you is the correct path. Decades from now, your titles, PRs, friendships, and experiences on the platform will have deep and lasting meaning for you. As for the others, tragically they will have an empty space where their lifting greatness could have been, but instead that empty space is filled with meaningless posts that were scrolled past never to have been seen again.

As is the inevitable, life is always the choice of two pains.  The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Keep on your authentic path toward your own powerlifting growth because it always has been and always will be you vs you.

Wishing you the very best in your training.  Ever onward!!!!!!

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