As I was training this morning I started thinking about how my approach to training has changed over the years. I started to think about just what I’d say to myself if I could do the whole go back in time and advise myself thing. I think it would go something like this:
Me: “Dude! Slow the fuck down!”
Younger Me: “What? Who the hell are you?”
Me: “I’m you but from the future.”
YM: “Really??! Nice beard.”
Me: “What? Oh thanks. But seriously Dude, you’re getting ahead of yourself.”
YM: "What do you mean?”
Me: “These weights. They’re too heavy. You’re pushing too much too soon.”
YM: “Whatever, Old Man. I’m moving them aren’t I? Isn’t that the point? To push yourself?”
Me: “Yeah, but you haven’t built enough of a foundation yet. Yes, you can technically move that weight, but feel how ugly that rep was? Did you own every inch of the lift? This is a training set, not max effort. You should be in full control all the way through.
Feel that twinge in your shoulder? Yeah, that’s not gonna just go away. That pull in your low back? You can't just ignore that.”
YM: “Seriously? Dude, I got a late start. I’ve got a long way to go if anyone is going to take me seriously.”
Me: “Yeah, you think that now. Truth is, no one cares how much you lift. They care about how much you can teach them to lift. That starts with understanding. You have to know the lifts inside and out. Which can only be done by feeling your way through. You can’t do that at these weights.
You need to slow down and focus on getting in tons of reps. Focus on feeling your way through the lifts. Which means you have to be able to really feel them. To do that you’ve got to work with weights you are fully in control of. Rather than working at 85 to 95% of your max all the time, you need to get in lots of volume working with 65, 75, and 85%.”
YM: “But won’t people think I’m weak?”
Me: “People? Or you? Your ego is your biggest enemy when it comes to this stuff. Worrying about what you or anyone else thinks is a waste of time. The only thing you should worry about is how well you lift. Get better at the actual lifting and the weight on the bar will take care of itself.
Let’s face it. You got a late start. You’re 32 years old and just starting a lifting career. You’ve got a lot of good years ahead of you, IF you lift smart. I’m sorry, but being a competitive lifter just isn’t in the cards for you. If you were honest you’d admit that’s not the kind of life you want to lead anyway. So instead of pretending, let’s focus on what you really want. Let’s learn these movements as best you can so that you can share them with others. Let’s embody quality over quantity and become the best mover we can and then use that knowledge to do what you really want to do - TEACH.”
YM: "Wow Future Me you're amazing! Am I really gonna be as cool as you?"
Me: "Get your head out of your ass and you'll be even cooler. Whelp, gotta go, the future calls. Oh yeah, before I go. In a few months you're gonna think you're a powerlifter and gain a whole bunch of weight...don't do that. The powerlifting's fine, but that Lift Big Eat Big guy you think is so cool? Yeah, even he realized all that mass wasn't very helpful. Don't create problems for yourself."