During my time in powerlifting, I have traveled to some of the top gyms and trained with some of the strongest athletes in the sport. This in itself has been one of the main attributes to my success in powerlifting. With this being said, ask you yourself what you are willing to give up, how much time are you going to dedicate, where will you travel, and how much will you step out of your comfort zone to put yourself around those who are the best in the business.
Ask anyone that you know that is accomplished in the sport and see how much they have travelled to get coaching over the years. Sure there are plenty of people in your own city that can be great coaches, but is that really enough coaching?
“Without a doubt, the two greatest challenges I’ve faced with powerlifting have been finding a suitable gym and good coaching. Living in southwest Michigan, everything is at least an hour drive away. Grand Rapids and the gyms and coaching there are over an hour away. Detroit is nearly three hours away, and Chicago is two hours away. But even with those distances, I’ve taken advantage of every resource available to me in those places. I’ve travelled three hours one-way and crashed on friends (and strangers) couches to train with a good crew, with good equipment, and get the coaching I needed. If powerlifting is something you want to take seriously, then you’re going to have to make some serious decisions, and perhaps sacrifices, to get better. I make due throughout the week with the equipment I have at my local commercial gym, and travel to Grand Rapids almost every weekend to train with a good crew with proper equipment and great coaching. Powerlifting gyms can be hard to find, and good coaching is worth its weight in gold. If there’s a gym with a good crew within reasonable driving distance, it behooves you to take advantage of that. Training solo in a commercial gym on shoddy equipment will produce, at best, a mediocre lifter. It’s a decision that must be made if you take this sport seriously. CHOOSE to do the best you can with the time that you have.”
What are you going to give up?
No, this does not mean that you are going to put training before your family, but it does mean that you are going to have to put it before other things that are not as important. When I first started lifting I was told by a coach of mine that if training wasn’t in my top three priorities that I would not be a successful lifter. I have stuck very close to that mindset over the years and it has gotten me very far. This may have gone a little bit to the extreme, and that is why in the 10/20/Life Ebook, Brian talks a lot about how it is important to have in-season and off-season training cycles so that your family doesn’t feel completely neglected. Most people will not get this, so make sure that you have time set aside to make it up to the ones who love you, because it can be abusive to your relationship with the ones that you love.
“Somewhere along the line, training became a priority. I found myself starting to make conscious choices to make sure that I am able to bring my best to the gym. It started with making sure I was getting more calories to support my activity, then refining my food choices so that my body felt and functioned better. Soon, I was allowing myself more time to sleep so I could recover better. Not drinking became an easy choice, because it interferes with sleep and recovery. Financially, my priorities soon changed. Training and programming soon had a regular line in my budget. I am suddenly putting aside luxury to have money for ART, gear and supplements. My vacations are planned to respect meet prep and training is prioritized in my week. Even during some of my off time, I can be found reviewing articles on training and recovery, nutrition, anatomy and physiology. While others may not understand this kind of commitment, powerlifting is about delayed gratification. The dedication put in today is about showing up on the platform. Caring for the body along the way is the best insurance we have for longevity in the sport.”
Training for a sport such as powerlifting is not much different than that of any sport in regards to the time that is involved. Traveling, as indicated earlier, time spent in the gym during the week and weekends, not going out and doing things that can be detrimental to your training, and taking time to make sure that your nutrition matches your training regimen, and money spent to make it all possible; these are all major parts to putting together a top athlete. If any of these things aren’t in your priorities, let it be known that you are creating a second-rate athlete.
Step out of your comfort zone
In order to train at places you have never been, and seek coaching from those who will make you a better athlete, you must be willing to reach out to those who can attribute to these goals. One thing that I learned early on is that the majority of the top athletes in this sport are more than willing to go out of their way if you are willing to listen and learn. It is really such a small community that we are all wanting to grow and this can’t happen without working together to reach our full potential. Being an owner of a personal training gym that is also powerlifting friendly, I have had the opportunity to work with some great athletes with so much potential because they have reached out of their comfort zone and realized that they can’t get there alone.
“I travel up to Grand Rapids, from the Chicagoland area about every 2-3 weeks for an intensive training weekend to obtain the best coaching for my goals. The decision was a very simple one to make. How important is it to me to meet my goals, what do I need to set up for my success in these goals and who can help me? What was I willing to do, and how uncomfortable was I willing to become to improve my skills. Being around other lifters and great coaches away from my home was a little intimidating. But if I wanted to grow, I needed to be uncomfortable, push myself outside of the comfort zone and learn more. Weaknesses don’t go away by wishing them to. I have access to a very large population of World Champion and All Time Record holders at the gym I currently train at. It is a great place and there are a lot of heavy weights being moved every single day of the week. For me, though, I was missing my focus, and others who were training the same foundation of a program as I was. I needed to be with others who utilized the same coaching queues and foundation of success that my program called for. Traveling to Grand Rapids allowed me to make focused training trips, learn, adapt, take notes go home and practice, and come back and see where things are improving. I found it to be more focused and about getting the best out of each other and running the planned program. No ego lifting, just do the work. While there are many people who have had great lifting success, translating that into coaching doesn’t necessarily happen. Being accountable to the plan, supporting the crew, and focusing on improving weaknesses is what’s it about for me and it’s worth it to dedicate my time and efforts to reach and exceed my goals.”
The purpose of this is not to call anyone out on their willingness to commit, in fact it simply is just to let you question yourself and see if you are doing some of the things that you should to be the best you. Powerlifting at a high level is not for everyone. In fact, there are really only a small amount of people in the sport that can reach this level of dedication as it is. This means that these athletes have also made many sacrifices that may or may not be ones that everyone is able to do. Most likely only a few of these points are feasible for the majority. But, at the end of the day, the one who is standing on the podium receiving the top honors is going to be the one who deserves it, the one who was willing to dedicate a huge majority of their life to the sport.