My Philosophy is Evolving

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I’m Doing in the Gym” post, and that’s mainly because I’ve been all over the place when it comes to my training lately. But now that I’m finally back in a good groove, I’ve got a plan of attack that will help me reach and exceed the numbers I was lifting quite a few months ago, but this plan will also help me do so in a way that’s healthier, safer, and more impressive.

What I mean by this is that when I was on my old powerlifting program, I was increasing my strength like crazy. I was hitting numbers I never thought I would hit. 405 deadlift, 320 squat, 240 bench. I was extremely excited that, at 160lbs, I was able to hit those numbers. While they aren’t extremely impressive for any competing powerlifter, 4 plates, 3 plates, and 2 plates was something I’ve always wanted to accomplish, and I did it relatively quickly.

But after I hit those numbers and tried to continue to make quick and frequent PRs, I hit a major plateau, and I ended up loosing my mental game and also started pushing my body too hard. I felt weaker because I wasn’t making jumps as fast as I had been, and I was brittle because I would try to over-lift and my ego got the best of my body.

After recent months of lackluster training which has had noticeable affects on my overall strength, I’ve finally been able to get back into a routine. But my head is also in a much better place than it was before in regards to my training.

Before, I was ego-lifting. Trying to force personal records because I wanted to see the number go up and impress myself and others around me. But once I got to that place, I realized, my strength was of very little quality.

This was because I wasn’t focused on building a foundation first, I was focused on getting right to building the house.

Now I’m not a bodybuilder, so a house isn’t referring to my body, but my strength and my numbers.

This time, I am taking the time to recognize what’s most important. The core. The roots. The foundation.

How am I doing this?

By slowing down.

I am no longer concerned about getting strong quick and lifting the amounts I was before as fast as possible. I know I’ll get there. But when I get there I’m going to be able to continue growing stronger because I will have built a foundation that is strong in all areas. Not just in the core lifts (squat, bench, deadlift), but in dynamic motion, power, and agility.

I am going to be relying on my weight-belt much less as well, in fact, I won’t be using one until I can lift a total of 900lbs between my squat, bench and deadlift. Using a belt was central to my squat and deadlift, but it prevented me from building that strong core foundation that is so extremely important for real, quality strength.

Currently, I’m at about 275, 225, and 335 respectively, totaling 835lbs. These next 65 pounds are going to be tough to get back, but I will get back.

To stop myself from ranting on, I will end with this:

In all aspects of life, we take shortcuts to achieve our goals quicker. But in almost every case where this is done, we would be much better off taking our time where we can, investing in yourself and the process, which will lead us to achieving our goals and more in a way that’s healthier, smarter, and more fulfilling because we know that we did things the right way, and our hard work and dedication in the life long journey of becoming the strongest, healthiest, and happiest we can, be has paid off. 

Heavy is a Relative Term

I see and hear too many people talk about and make fun of someone’s ability (or inability) to lift a certain amount of weight. However when determining heaviness, there is no set number of pounds when something is deemed “heavy”. It’s a term that is defined differently by each and every individual.

It’s important to remember that in the gym, light weight to you may be extremely heavy to others. We should remember this because when we work out with others, or even just look at them through the mirrors, any and all judgement regarding the weight that a particular person is lifting should be immediately done away with and shamed.

We shouldn’t judge others on this subjective concept because what seems like light to you doesn’t matter at all. Because you’re not the one lifting the weight, and the person who is actually moving the weight is probably struggling and working as hard as they can to grow stronger.

This is heavy to them in their current physical state, and that’s all that matters.

We are all trying to become healthier and stronger in our own ways, and it’s a lifelong journey. This also means that we all will be in different stages of this journey at any given time. So no matter how slow someone’s progress may be or how seemingly light the weight is, any progress is better than none at all if you’re working hard. So we must be mindful and respectful of each and everyone’s level of progress and weight that they are lifting.

Because they know that they are dedicated to becoming the strongest, healthiest, and happiest person they can be, and that dedication will allow them to lift even more weight in the future. And with attainable goal setting and dedicated, focused work, what’s heavy today will be light tomorrow.

[The Path] Six Pack Secrets You Need to Know

Check out my guest post (by clicking on the image below) for The Path mag, “Six Pack Secrets You Need to Know” where I share some hard truths about getting that six pack, and what you really should be doing instead!

Click here for the post!

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You can check out my other guest post, “How to Get the Most Out of the Gym” in The Path HERE!

It’s Time to Wake Up – Will Power is EASY

A lot of people often say to me that they’re jealous of my “Will Power” and that they wish they were as mentally strong as me. This discussion usually arises from the fact that I go to the gym 5 days a week and I maintain a fairly strict diet and often times pass on dessert and a lot of junk food. But I’m here to tell you that it’s time to wake up. Having “Will Power” is easy. Everyone can have a very strong “Will Power” because all you have to do (in most cases) is start small and just say no.

If you’ve read previous blog posts of mine then you know that I am a huge advocate for setting attainable and practical health and fitness goals. So is it really that difficult to say no to one less scoop of ice cream a day? Is it really that difficult to start getting active for 20 minutes every couple days? Well the answer is absolutely not. It’s not difficult at all and if you think otherwise then you’re just making bad excuses.

Right around this time of year you start to hear people saying “oh I reeeally shouldn’t be eating this” as they continue to stuff their face with whatever it is. Late January is a time when resolutions begin to fade and the same old behavior sets in. I talk to people all the time about how to be strict with yourself and your diet and exercise goals and when I ask people why they don’t achieve them I get answers like “well it’s just impossible to refuse a brownie!” or, “I just literally don’t have the time to exercise”. Wake up people. It’s not impossible to refuse a brownie, how about you just say no and don’t pick it up and put it in your mouth? And you literally do have the time to exercise because if you didn’t that would mean that you don’t have 20 minutes of free time a couple days a week in the entire 7 day week. If that were really the case you’d be running yourself into the ground with either work, which doesn’t sound healthy, or what is probably the case, Netflix.

The beauty of setting goals that are attainable is that you are allowed to start small. If you typically have 7 Nutter Butter cookies a day, say no to 4 of them and just have 3 cookies a day. If you don’t work out at all, set a goal to say yes to 20 minutes of exercise for 3 days a week. Which gives you Saturday and Sunday to exercise and only 1 day during the week to find 20 minutes of spare time. Once you realize how easy it is, your “Will Power” begins to grow. You’ll start seeing positive results and then you’ll find yourself turning down more junk food and finding more than 20 minutes of free time to exercise. It becomes addicting and it becomes easier. There’s a reason why magical 500 calorie-a-day starvation diets don’t work. It’s because it’s too much of an abrupt change that makes it extremely easy to cheat and give up on. Small steps that change your current habits will eventually grow and change to become your own lifestyle. You’ll say no to more negative aspects of your life and you will say yes to more positive ones because you can see the change happening right before you.

You can’t go from 0 to 100mph immediately. No matter what car you’re driving, you’ll need to hit every mile-per-hour in between to reach your top speed. So start slow, and your progress will accelerate, moving you faster and faster toward the finish line of a strong will and way of life.

The Importance of Good Form

There are a lot of things that can go wrong and that you can do wrong in the gym. The most serious and dangerous thing you can do wrong in the gym, however, is bad form. Before you can even add one pound of weight to an exercise, you must have a deep understanding of proper form before you attempt any workout.

Here are 2 biggest reasons why you shouldn’t be allowed in the gym unless you have been trained by someone who knows what they’re doing.

1. Bad Form Causes Injury

This is the number 1 reason why you need to know proper form before getting in the gym. Lifting anything, and even simple things like running, can cause life-long injury if you don’t have proper form. And if you aren’t getting injured, you better believe you’re creating muscular imbalances that will eventually lead to injury and an unhealthy body. You’ll be doing more harm than good to your body. You may think you’re doing it right, but unless you have done extensive research and/or have had someone coach you, chances are, you probably aren’t. Or at least not perfectly. Which leads into my next point.

2. Bad Form Minimizes Strength Potential

If you have bad form, you’re most likely slowing down your growth and strength potential, and performing the movements inefficiently. There’s a reason that there is a technique to lifting. It’s not only to prevent injury, but it is also to maximize the amount of weight you can lift by understanding biomechanics and creating and maximizing efficiencies. Lifting with good form helps you get stronger the right way, quicker.

So in short – lift with good form. If you don’t know what good form is, or even if you think you do, continue to research it or use a personal trainer, and actively pay attention to your form. It is something you must think about, develop, and work on, every time you pick up a weight or step in the gym. You’ll get stronger and minimize injury because of it.