Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lean back, and enjoy the ride

I can remember days in my youth when my relationship with lifting was nothing but pure love/hate.

I can remember days of getting on the scale after weeks of big eating, and weighing the same, and then cursing the inanimate object as if it were its fault.

I can remember being stuck on a certain number of reps with a certain weight for months on end.  Some of them still stick in my head from that time.

100 pounders in the incline db press for 8 reps

Clean and press 185 x 5

Incline Press 245 x 8

315 x 13 in the squat

I was not naturally strong at all.  I wasn't that guy that deadlifted 585 the first time he really tried it, or benched 315 after three months of lifting.  I can remember squatting 155 pounds for 8 reps and feeling like it was going to crush me.  The first time I ever bench pressed, I was 14 and I could do the bar for 8 reps.  Max.

No joke.

I was 114 pounds.  I couldn't squat the empty hack squat machine, couldn't do a chin up.

I look back now, and I'm glad that I was nothing, and came from nothing, in terms of lifting ability.  It makes me appreciate the ability I have now more than the naturally gifted, I believe.  I love to talk to other guys that came up the same way.  We generally have a lot of great stories to share and laugh about, and have often traveled the same roads.

What I am getting at here is, I am a very average guy in terms of genetics.  When you look at how my lifts have progressed by no means do anything about me scream "freak".  I've added about 100 pounds to my deadlift in the last 10 years (650ish).  About that to my squat too (635ish).  My bench was good early on, I cheated up over 400 by the time I was 20 but shoulder problems put my bench in the shitter for the better part of the last 15 years.  It's only been the last few years of getting it diagnosed properly and me figuring out how to train it properly that have put it back up over 400 consistently.

When I was younger I wanted it all right then.  I wanted to look like Arnold and be able to lift like Kaz.

I accepted long ago that I will never look like Arnold or be as strong as Kaz, and it doesn't bother me one bit.  I live in my own little lifting world where my own progress and goals and issues are my own.  I don't really care what someone else does, or get jealous of their lifts or physique.  My own path is my own, and worrying about what anyone/everyone else does doesn't effect it.  So why put any emotional energy into it?

I don't.  Not anymore.  It's useless.  Pointless.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our want of something, that we don't enjoy the journey to our destination.  Like going on a trip somewhere you are so excited to get to, you may miss all sorts of things on the way there that are incredibly interesting because you are so narrowly focused on the end destination.

If you know that you're probably going to lift for the rest of your life, then be cognitive of that.  Enjoy the journey, the progress, even when it seems like there isn't any.  It's like investing money.  Your returns may not be evident now, and sometimes you may even go backwards, but good decisions will eventually put money in the bank.

So enjoy the ride.


  1. I was thinking about this exact same thing, minus the lifting, earlier today.

  2. I got a kick out of the 114lb. reference. Not sure how old you were at that point, but that is what I weighed the day I shipped out to boot camp! It's a fun story to share now at about 70lbs. heavier. However, that laughable weight was the part of the catalyst that has shaped who I've become today. Better to be a late bloomer than a no bloomer. Outstanding write-up, Paul.

  3. I was 14 at that time Bigs.

    It's how you respond to those adversities that tell a lot about your character. Remember, hard times don't build character, they reveal it.

  4. Yes, that piece was outstanding Paul. Thanks.

  5. It was one of the best stuff i have read on training in a while. Not only about training but it made me think about some things in my life now. Thanks for this.

  6. Paul-

    If you are into adventure stuff, check out the movie 180 degrees South. Pretty neat, and the scenery is amazing.

    The old head in it is 70, and he basically invented ice climbing. Designed all the tools for it, etc. At one point he says something like, "It's like the quest for the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail's bullshit. It's the quest that matters."

    Very cool how he talks about finding himself, searching his soul, by climbing. How once you reach the top there is nothing there, but getting there is the important step.

    Holds very true to a life time of lifting/conditioning. In my 20s I never took the time to really soak in the experience...the blood, sweat, and tears it took to haul up a 700 pound deadlift. Now that I have changed focus and jiu jitsu and conditioning is my thing...being healthy is my thing...I am much more so enjoying the journey of finding myself. Doing things I never thought I could do...reaching farther and training harder. I am finally learning from the training, and enjoying the quest.

    Good post-


  7. "once you reach the top there is nothing there"

    Awesome quote Rick, and pretty much sums up my point.

    Once you REACH your destination....what is there?

    Enjoy the journey more than the destination.

    Great post as always Rick.

  8. Great to hear you came from nothing, in terms of lifting abilities. It really motivates me to see you are in the 300kg squat, 200kg bench, and 300kg deadlift range, which are all time goals of mine.

    This motivates me more than seeing some 18yo kid who has a 2000lbs total.

    Great articles Paul!

  9. Thanks Mark.

    I appreciate the lifting of the freaks too. I just don't get caught up in what they are capable of, or compare myself. Your lifting is only relevant to you.

  10. Enjoyed the Journey today...

    25 degrees and 12" of combined snow. Shoveled, hauled wood, then took to running in my work boots. 10 hills, less then 1 minute in between. Last summer 1 would have wrecked me, my asthma was so bad I would have been sucking wind in this cold. Not today...I am a changed man...

    Enjoy YOUR journey today!

  11. This is awesome Rick.

    Some things have to be experienced to be appreciated.