I am out the back of the warm up room at the ProRawXI Powerlifting competition surrounded by cage fencing. There is a feeling of focus, passion and energy in the air. Chalk dust surrounds us, bags of equipment lay peeled open with lifting gear spilling out of them as competitors warm up. You can hear the MC out the front commentating as each lifter goes up for their attempt followed by a cheer of the crowd!
As all of this is happening I can't help but think about every single individual, all the effort put in for this moment. Each competitor has worked extremely hard to be here, some for as little as a year, some for 10 years but each has their own story to tell. From my own experience I know everyone here has faced their own hardships, highs, lows, pain and euphoria that comes with powerlifting...
A Conversation With Gus
My thoughts wonder further as I spark conversation with a lifting friend 'Gus Cooke,' we talk about Powerlifting related things. Inspired by the previous thoughts before the conversation I chime in and say "The real art and hidden secret of Powerlifting seems to be how you manage your life with your Powerlifting, we all have f**ked up lives and shit going on, the real skill is being able to last a 12 week peaking cycle to make it on comp day with as little niggles as possible and THEN you need to perform on the day as well!"
This conversation had my mind churning with enlightenment. I obviously knew how important it is to manage your life appropriately to be able to pursue Powerlifting at a high level, this conversation just let my mind wonder further into the topic.
There is a few people out there that think their lives are the only ones that are crazy and have so much going on. From my experience as a gym owner and coach/personal trainer, we are all nuts, we all have crazy shit going on... I throw around the phrase "We are all fucked up with crazy shit going on," not as a negative but as a way to get people to understand it isn't just them. We need to get over it, the universe doesn't care, lets do whatever we can to move forward.
SO with that said, this is where I believe an underestimated skill of Powerlifting is being able to make all the small clever, intuitive and smart decisions around a hectic lifestyle. The universe doesn't care if:
- It is your friends birthday on a training night.
- Your hips are tight after a 12 hour day and you need to release them for squats tomorrow.
- You have to work over time but you still have to meal prep.
The universe does not f**king care. So what are you going to do about it!?
Open You Perspective
Think Smaller, That Means Bigger!!
I will never forget a saying that a great lifter/coach 'Matt Wenning' said:
"70% of strength can't be taught."
I totally agree with this! The point I got from this is all the small personal intuitive decisions that you make to get a bigger result. If you chase down twenty 1%er's, that is an extra 20%!!
The last year in particular I have had a huge increase in progress and I put it down to a lot of the 1%er's that I have chased down.
A quick example of my progress:
Bench Press: 195kg
Squat: 332.5kg - 52.5kg increase
Bench Press: 195kg (missed 205kg, strained pec)
Deadlift: 330kg - 20kg increase
Total: 857.5kg - 72.5kg increase
Examples Of Small Decisions I Make For An Accumulated Result
- My training times are booked in to my diary and NOTHING gets booked on top and I show up no matter how I am feeling, sick, tired, sore, doesn't matter. This is more than 1%, I believe if you aren't doing this as a competitor you are behind by a lot.
- Salt/Carb loading before big sessions. Sure, you may perform well without doing this, but why not take a chance at moving better and having less injury potential on the day.
- Physio booked in weekly for PREHAB, nothing gets booked over the top of this.
- When I am doing a set of pause squats, connecting my mind to my muscles every single rep, switching my right glute on a little more because I felt it lag on the previous rep. Mindlessly doing reps is a sure way to build imbalances and poor movement patterns.
- Premeditating that I have a huge day at work tomorrow so there is a high chance my hips, quads etc.. might tighten up so I will plan a hot bath and prehab after.
- Ask questions whenever the opportunity pops up, be humble, learn. Being ignorant and thinking you know it all will hinder your progress.
- Having an off day and the weight feels heavy. Being humble enough to back off and potentially leave the session there. It is important to understand that you have years to get strong, not weeks or months. Also question it, why do the weights feel heavy, there is always a reason and on these days you have to make a smart decision whether you should or shouldn't push through it.
- Whilst warming up having a coffee for stimulant and an ice block for the sugar and insulin spike. Both instant performance enhancers.
- Im not hungry and only have 10 minutes until I have to start coaching. Not only do I not want to eat, I could just wait until after coaching. Universe doesn't care, eat anyway!
- Felt quads taking over on deadlifts which is pulling me forward, do glute activation between sets to help sit back better into the hips.
- Tight adductor after a session, question why it happened. Muscles don't tighten up for no reason, muscles tighten to protect itself... Protect itself from what?? The strongest people in the world usually move the best and prehab better than anyone.
- Turning up 1hr early to heavy sessions to warm up and have an extra chance to release tight muscles. A torn muscle can be enough to kick you out of the game for months sometimes years.
- The day before a heavy session I try making my schedule more relaxed to reduce stress. Stress = Cortisol, Cortisol is not good for performance.
- Planning and writing down calculated warm up attempts before heavy sessions. Being more calculated and organised is only an advantage.
All these small decisions add up to large results and all these small decisions come with a sacrifice. These sacrifices take time and energy away from your life and this is why I believe that one of the hidden secrets in Powerlifting is how you manage all of these little decisions around a busy lifestyle. And not just managing these little decisions for a short while BUT FOR A LONG TIME! Strength takes time!
Thank you for reading and I hope you found value in this blog post! :)
- Jake Fisher