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Look Forward and Don’t Stumble



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Every good thing, it seems, is accompanied by resistance, and the greater the thing, the greater the resistance. This fact of life we know better than ever, as we practice it day by day in the gym. Training does that. That’s why we call it training.

“Training’s tough. It’s tough being tough. Tough toughens. Tough is cool.” Herophilus, again?
Tough lifters attack problems head on; there’s no other way. They perceive them, identify them, resolve them and apply the solution. You name it.

How about training plateaus? They’re nasty. Sticking points plague trainees every time they get comfortable in a routine and take the freedom out of training. Plateaus baffle us and cause us to squirm. And they’re as certain and definite as night and day.

Yeah, well, maybe and maybe not. Not everything that looks and feels like a hairy three-headed snake is a hairy three-headed snake.

Sticking points might be a shadow somewhere between night and day. I say plateaus are the progress we make when progress hides from our eyes and only registers internally -- beneath the skin, inside the body, within the chemistry -- and in the rough recesses of the mind and psychology: discipline, courage and trust.

To carry on when the rewards are not apparent and forthcoming is devotion, passion and daring.

Now, it’s wise and good to review your training -- your workouts and your eating regimen -- to determine its value and effectiveness, but it’s not smart to doubt it or change it before its time has come. Unless you’ve installed a no-brainer, dopey workout for some half-witted reason, give it all your heart for four to six weeks with optional tweaking, before giving up and going on. Some guys and gals (guys mostly, believe it or not) are impatient and distressed when they haven’t made visible gains in a couple of weeks. Rats, another sticking point.

Stick out the sticking points; check your workout intensity, attitude, involvement, pace, form and focus. Here’s where the fix usually buries itself. Let your workout do its work; all you have to do is sit back and add the muscle overload.

If one exercise disturbs you, trade it for another. Point in case: more trainees relate to the bench press as if it were sacrosanct, the leader of the pack, the mountain’s peak or the best exercise for building strong bodies 20 ways fast. But when they reach a benching plateau (scream), the world comes tumbling down around them. It’s a pretty good exercise and we all love it... till it falls short of its high and mighty qualifications and guarantees. More shoulders have succumbed to heavy bench pressing, more time is wasted in efforts to achieve a well-formed pec line, and more lifters have hesitated or refused to return to the gym because the bench has failed them... or they it.

Toss the faker, the false hope, the overrated troublemaker; swap it for something in the dumbbell department. It’ll be there for you another time. The bench is loyal; I’ll say that for it.

There comes an intelligent time when changes are needed or you have determined a fresh approach or discovered a new course to your weightlifting advancement. Plateaus and sticking points have been fully examined, and confidence and composure move you forward. This is lifting at its best, wise and thoughtful, not hasty, anxious and short-circuited.

Big problems dress up in short shorts. A good thing once it becomes excessive is no longer good; reach too far and it’s no longer smart; expect too much and your smile fades. Over-reaching and daydreaming result in disappointment and discouragement, mean problems that are difficult to surmount. Don’t drag them into your path.

Look forward and don’t stumble. Look up, but not into the face of the sun. Be real. Be realistic.

Oh, my aching back. Nothing imaginary about an injury, another resistant to the lifter’s good. There it is: pain, swelling and despair. My conclusion, and perhaps you agree, is that injuries happen and, whether accidental or due to accumulated overload, we either conquer and learn from them, or we submit and fail by them. They are not pretty, friendly or welcome, and to give them room and board is to encourage their stay. After their cruel pounding on the door has come to an end, chase them away with a broom.

Train with renewed focus and intention, lightly and tenderly. Where there is no pain, there’s room for exercise. Where there is pain, there’s need for loving persuasion. Press on, or pull if that’s all you can do.

The strong survive and the relentless aspire.

Excuses are the major sources of resistance. They are the problems we face every day, whether the problems we face are real or not. No time, too much work, I’m tired, the car, the kids, the crowds, school reports, meetings, engagements, appointments… my dog has fleas.

“What dog? You don’t have a dog.”

I’ll get one. 

Did I ever tell you about the guy who joined our gym to rejuvenate his soul? It was more work than he had bargained for, and he gave it up after two weeks, stating his fear of wearing out his body and accelerating the aging process. Indeed, the aches and pains were evidence of irreparable damage. As he wanted to live to be a ripe old age, he firmly asked to be released of his membership obligation, which was beyond the 10-day grace period. I think he muttered “lawyer” and “sue” as I walked him to the back door where the dumpster was conveniently located and wished him well in his fabulous life. The guy’s life is an excuse.

An excuse is no reason to dismiss your training. Remember the  criteria for skipping a workout: Unless you’re unconscious or bleeding from an open wound, just don’t.

Nothing like flying, is there, bombers -- stirring up the air, chasing the wind and cruising on breezes?

God’s speed... DD



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