Jul 22, 2014

E=mc2 (E)volving = (m)aking (c)hanges (2)multiple times

Evolving -develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

Charles Darwin

Evolving (I mean mentally and emotionally)is what makes us who we are today. To get where we want we NEED to make changes, some are life changing while others are subtle. Evolution knows no time. There are no rules or guidelines. There are no cliff notes on growing up. Yes there is a universal blue print but if this print was the same for all then we would all be the same. The decisions or lack of decisions we make today molds us into what we will become tomorrow. Constant choices, changes will never take a day off. Some of us will make the same choices every day and never step outside what makes us comfortable because of fear. Fear of not knowing where “other” choices may take us. Fear of failing as a result of a different choice because we broke away from the safe choice we habitually take. Don’t be a xenophobe. Some live life by playing it safe or conservative while others go outside the box and take risks. They are willing to make changes and evolve into someone else. Also don’t confuse the words evolve and change. Changing your morning breakfast from Count Chocula to Lucky Charms is not evolving, but changing from a sugary breakfast to oatmeal and eggs is evolving.

The physical and mental elements of change need to be done in conjunction with each other. The cycle of life is evolution. At NO time do we stop changing. Even when we hit the golden years we need to accept that soon our deaths will effect others so we must prepare and change things for the future within ourselves and for our children so they can be prepared for when we are not around, either physically, financially or spiritually. If you have interests or experiences in only limited things or you don’t go out on a limb in new areas of interests then you are missing out and handicapping yourself from being a better, rounded person. Life is a marathon not a sprint. This is only a step of many to get us to our destination.

How does evolving in life carry over to training? In the same way we mature in life we must almost mature in our training. If we train the same way we did when we first started years earlier, I am sure our gains have stalled a while ago. I am certain if I was more receptive to new training methods before my thirties I would be a better more prosperous lifter.


Evolving from casual lifter to a finely tuned athlete

We all started as casual Joe lifter. Most probably started training for high school or college sports while others (myself) just enjoyed the feeling of endorphins being released, the transformation of my body and building of my self esteem. However when we are done playing the sports ,the approach we take to lifting will vary thereafter. Most of these lifters will fail to be committed. Oh yes, you will see them again annually from January 1st for a month or so. Hell they may even be more committed and be spending $10 at Planet Fitness to get their weekly pizza. Well if you weren’t of the fore mentioned, then you are one that changed and recognized lifting was MORE than just as a supplemental part of the sport you participated in. You realized it was part of who you are. Regardless, if it was to continue in a sport after college (powerlifting, crossfit, etc) or maybe it just made you feel better about yourself, you were hooked. You realized that you couldn’t live without it. While others reverted back to their lives without lifting you went against the grain and continued. You changed your perspective, intentionally or unintentionally but it changed. No more, “I lift because of football (sport you did)” now” I lift because I want to.” Your perspective changed and it is for the better.

The reason is irrelevant why you are committed to going to the gym. YOU ARE GOING!! If you go 4-5 times a week and don’t compete in anything but bust your ass training that is damn good enough, period. Don’t let someone CHANGE you and make you feel bad because of what you do. They are most likely envious of people who aren’t scared to do something with their lives and be different. You don’t need to compete in a sport to validate your training.

I had a crossfit guy (with a serious elitist attitude) say to me once, “I use to powerlift but I evolved and now I do crossfit.” Huh? Did he? Yes he did. Condescending bastard. I thought “No you probably weren’t good at power lifting and tried something else.” Swap the word evolved with change and I would have been fine. Answer to no one but yourself. Needless to say I ignore him when I see him.Over the course of my many years of training I have learned one thing, the moment you think you know it all is when you will stop evolving or progressing. The thinking that because you have trained for one, five, twenty years of training that you know it all is immaturity or arrogance. With that being said I don’t enjoy reading articles on how to lift (actual mechanics). Boring, but I KNOW I can learn something or tuck something away for someone else. However I enjoy reading the ones that may offer a tip that can help me become better with articles that focus on little things I may miss such as shoes, belts, foot position, nutrition, CNS, etc.

At some point we must accept that we physically can’t just brute force or muscle the weight but can manipulate the weight other ways. We are all victims of thinking like this until I looked into other avenues of getting stronger. After a bad workout I would approach the next one with unbreakable conviction, every time believing that would break the rut. Well that worked when I was younger and like anything I wore that out. This is when I stepped back and said I need to educate myself better to keep excelling.

Complacency breeds stagnancy.

Change for at least the sake of boredom. After years of training if you don’t have variety you will have boredom. This will stymie you physically and mentally. You may head down the road of overtraining because you start forcing more sets, reps or increase in weights to try to get past your plateau. Ultimately, you may be the cause of your lack of progress. All successful athletes, regardless of what sport, change their routines or methods to advance to the next level. Powerlifters incorporate different apparatuses (boards, bands, chains) while crossfitters have different WODs. The changes are for the intention of progress.

“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This idiom is ever so dead on for some of the old timers or veterans of their sports. As stated before it is hard to do something one way for years then give up on it and try something else. I hit that moment of forgetting everything I thought I knew and listened to someone else. This happened over 2 years ago. I listened to someone else on how to bench and am happy I did. Evolve. Not only do we need to change our physical approach but also our mental.

Neuroplasticity is the “rewiring” of our brains. We are constantly changing the way our brain fires everyday but when it comes to training this area we actually fight it. Once you trust yourself that is not the end of the world then making changes after the first time will be easier for you. As a side note if you want to read a book about someone who had to “rewire” their brain after crushing the spine and then 10 weeks later being able to walk without major operations then I suggest “Evolve your Brain” by Dr Joe Spirenza..

To break a plateau you do not need to understand the Chaos Theory. We also don’t need to travel to Tibet to join a monastery and then be enlightened. Sometimes it is a simple change such as pointing toes out while squatting, wearing wrestling shoes while benching to alleviate your butt from coming up or maybe just changing your pre-meet meal.

In the same breath I speak of improvising and advancing our training sometimes the best change is the simple one, back to the basics. Sometimes we get lost in thinking the more complex or outlandish the movement the better the benefits. I have found myself trying some crazy diversion of benching thinking this will work because it is different. One thing in evolving is knowing when you are biting your nose to spite your face, meaning doing something different to just do it even though it is counterproductive. You DON’T need to reinvent the wheel you just need to make it spin smoother.

Some suggestions to break a mental rut or a physical bump:

  •        If you are in a rut where gains are coming hard change your warm ups. For example, my sets on the bench are 155,245,335 and then that leads me into my heavy raw 5s,3s or 2s. What did increasing my sets by 20 lbs do? Well now if my next set is 365 then it is a 30lb jump not a 50lb from the normal 135,225,315 warm ups. So mentally I have bettered my chances of success because of the smaller jump. 335 is my 315 now. I started this over a year ago and love it.
  •      Change your seasons up considerably. I look forward to contest training. If you read this article : http://ironauthority.com/what-is-sponge-training/ you will notice my offseason is much tougher in a volume sense so when I start training for a meet I actually start to recover even though my bar weight is going up but the volume starts crashing (also adding more rest has a lot to do with it).
  •        When warming up on the bench to your work sets start narrow and end at comp grip on your goal set(s). I start on the knurl and work out towards the rings each set . This helps warm the arms and delts thoroughly while strengthening the triceps.
  •        Try some adrenal supplements and focus on the CNS. Add rest, maybe an extra hour of sleep. If the CNS is shot you will not fire properly.
  •        Rearrange your movements when you train but try to hit the same numbers with the second movement as if it was the first since you will be fatigued. A pre-exhaustion concept.
  •        If you listen to rock or rap or some aggressive motivating music on the way to the gym try soft music on the way there. Contain or reserve your energy and then when you walk in UNLEASH. Day of the meet I listen to slow contemporary music and I don’t think about the meet till I start warming up. Don’t burn out. Don’t over focus. Calm before the storm.

Also what I listen to when I lift I DON’T listen to outside the gym. Why? So I don’t have a tolerance and it still has a kick when I hear it while training.


Knowledge is power


I believe if a beginner eats properly and does a regimen with consistency they WILL see gains regardless whose program they try. For a more advanced lifter the progress ended a long time ago. Now they try someone’s routine and start making progress again. Why? Not because of some fancy hardcore named workout but because of CHANGE. A different structured routine with maybe different focuses on what their goals are (i.e. strength, mass) was what they needed..

Don’t spend money for a book for an exact routine but spend it if you are not familiar with different movements to incorporate into your routine. Teach yourself and build your arsenal of wisdom so you can make CHANGES that can work for you. Get familiar with how the movement is done. Yes there are different ways to do some movements even the simple ones as head bangers. Most touch their forehead when doing it, myself I touch the chin ( I get a way better stretch and less stress on the elbows for myself) elbows in, elbows out, etc. Find what works for your comfort wise and results wise. If something strains an area then find out if there is another way to do the movement, but keeping it effective. I have short arms and a big chest, so doing dumbbell bench is worthless because the ROM is nil. Instead I use a camber bar. CHANGE and don’t be scared because maybe you go against the grain.

Pick up your knuckles

Well I am not the best of really anything but one thing is, I have learned about personal evolving. Once I dropped my club for a book then a new wave of prs and motivation followed. I can only make suggestions and hope one suggestion helps someone. I have wasted probably years on my body by not thinking from day one but does anyone from the get go listen and learn? Being smart does not mean you‘re wise. Wisdom comes with time and experiences. What you do with the outcome of these two factors will dictate how much we evolve. Don’t be scared or too manly to step outside your comfort zone who knows you may never go back.


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