posted on January 24, 2020
We have all seen the way too serious lifter. You know the one monster in hand, hyped up for each lift and earbuds blasting bad rap or metal. By watching these lifters you would think that this persons life depends on each and every rep. While it is commendable to have a passion and care about your lifts, I am here to tell you that it is better for the long term if you balance your training.
I have been competing in powerlifting for 20 years now and I have seen many trends come and go. When I began lifting there was no raw lifting, everyone was a wearing some sort of powerlifting gear. Training for this was very different then it is today. As I’ve seen this evolution of powerlifting I have also seen the training change to match the new way of competing. Yet, one thing hasn’t changed and that is how you need to approach your training. Training must still be intense and serious yet we also must know when to relax, have fun and just do some work.
Know when is the time to get intense and when it’s time to get off the energy drink and just do some work. When you look at any style of training they are all based on the big lifts. Prilepin’s chart tells you how many reps to do at any given percent. Same is true with Smolov squat cycle. Within the big lifts it is important to be 100% mentally engaged in the lift and get a little amped up. Yet, we must also know to save some of our intensity for the truly big lifts. One cannot get their arousal level to 100 for each and every lift.
As you move into accessory movements know the goal of the movement. The goal is to build muscle to make the other movements stronger. So know at this point weight is not necessarily the end goal. Knowing this we must also realize that our “intensity” should change during these lifts. The goal is to feel and grow a muscle not to destroy everything. Mel Siff once said (and I paraphrase as I don’t want to mess up a quote), bodybuilding is the easiest sport ever, tear down a muscle, feed a muscle then rest that muscle. That is our goal with accessory work, just build muscle so relax.
Now that I have gone over when to hit it hard and when to have a more fun and relaxed attitude in a training session, what about over the course of a year. Similar to a single training session a full year or multi year program must have time to relax a little in the training. If you were preparing for a meet or competition then it is absolutely time to come in with a focused mind set. Yet, if you are 8 months from a meet or competition it may be time to take a deep breath and just train. This is not an excuse to get apathetic about your lifts yet we must always remember that the session is stressful and if we allow ourselves to become over burdened with the lifts then we can burn out quickly.
If you want longevity in both lifting and life I would highly recommend you look at how you approach your lifts and your training. Learn when it’s time to hit it hard physically and mentally and also know you need to step back and relax.