Thursday, July 4, 2013

Iron Addiction II: Who To Listen To?

If there has been a somewhat-reoccurring theme to this blog is that strength training has relied way too much on the pounds of weight moved for quite some time as the number one measure of value.  The thought process of moving as much weight as possible influences many things from our judgment of our own strength to the movements we choose to do to make us strong.  Another, lesser thought-of issue that comes up now and then with iron addiction is who we choose to listen to for advice with training. 

I like Paul Carter's feed on my Facebook wall as well as his blog.  He writes so much I'm often left wondering how on earth he ever gets any work done.  Anyway, he had this to say after being one of the speakers at a recent Juggernaut Training Seminar in Chicago:
I'd like to address something here, because I was asked a question that was intended to mock me, but in all reality it made me feel pretty fucking awesome.

The trolls question was "how did it feel to be the weakest speaker at that Juggernaut seminar?"

Well, that's a great question.

I've been training for almost 25 years. Unlike Eric Lilliebridge I was not born a genetic mutant. It took
me a few years of training before I could bench 135.
After a few years of lifting I remember squatting 155 for a set of 10, and it was so hard I felt like my liver was going to explode. I didn't do those again for a few more years. They were hard! Who wanted to do that shit?
My best total, no belt no wraps is only 1686. Hardly the stuff of legends.
After the seminar I walked up to Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter that's ever lived, and shook his hand and told him what an honor it was to sit next to him. Ed shook his head and told me, "Paul, you're as smart about all of this stuff as anyone up there."
That's the greatest compliment I've ever received in regards to training in my life. What could top that?
All the years I spent fucking up and busting my shit up and trying to get better...all the years I spent reading and trying to understand things and fucking with programs....all the years I spent writing and putting my own shit out there....that's what got me there.
All of those things are as good as any total because I sit on top of 25 years of knowledge and experience. And while a world record anything would be nice, I was able to sit with record holders and speak alongside them as a peer.
So you see, I'd like to thank you for asking me that question because it was one I asked myself at the seminar. And my answer was "I'm here because of the other things I bring to the table." That thought was reaffirmed to me by the greatest ever at said sport.
Not only that, but after 25 years I know that I'm just entering my prime. If I can total 1686 with no belt, on a torn groin then my best meets are yet to come.
So many of us have aspirations of becoming something, or doing something, but sometimes aren't on the right road to get there. I would have never been in on that seminar, if I hadn't started writing and putting my ideas out there. It was those things that led me to that place. My lifting at this point, wouldn't have gotten me there.
The road to our zenith may not be the one we believe we are supposed to travel. People often find out that they have to take a completely different route, in order to end up in the place they desire to be.
So how did it feel to be asked to sit in with a group where I was the "weakest" guy there?
Pretty fucking awesome.
Because strength isn't just measured by pounds on the fucking bar.
Like I said, he talks a lot.  The mockery does bring up an interesting question:  Are we obligated to take seriously training information that only comes from people who can move prodigious amounts of weight?  How do we go about determining who we listen to for training advice? 
Taking advice from people who move massive amounts of metal often results in reeking of douche-baggery.  I've taken tips on how to do an exercise properly from people who couldn't move the same amount of weight that I can.  I took tips on how to row from someone who probably could barely row for reps what I could do for high volume.  Should I have disregarded what they had to say?  It was only my second or third time doing weighted rows and the person giving me instructions was a woman who has taught people how do this stuff for years. 
Subsequently, certain people are gifted.  Being blessed with lots of muscle mass and the right structure to pull off immense lifts doesn't do anything to teach you how to do what they do.  If you're less gifted, you need to learn technique.  This kind of big lifter may not be able to impart what comes naturally to them onto you.  

Then, there are egotistical fuckers who doesn't want you to be better than they are.   It's unfortunate but there are people out there that are only okay with your success up to a point where they feel threatened by you.  It must be easier than trying to constantly improve.  Lazy asses. 
Of course, some people aren't good at teaching others either.  While my solitary fitness existence doesn't allow me to teach a people about working out in peron, I do the bulk of the training at my job.  If there is a few things that I try to keep in mind, it's these things: 
  1. Patience.  People who have a set idea of how long it's going to take to teach someone something aren't good for teaching.  It can be a tedious process to get people to learn what it is you're teaching them and impatience doesn't help the process along. 
  2. Being a good talker.  I admit that I'm better at writing than talking face-to-face.  Still, I've taught what I do enough times that I'm pretty well rehearsed at what I need to say and how to explain things in a simple, efficient manner to complete amateurs.  This ultimately boils down to having plenty of experience teaching.   
  3. Conveying a sense of accessibility.  What teacher hasn't taught, student hasn't learned.  If student doesn't feel comfortable asking, then teacher doesn't get the opportunity to teach.  In other words, a good teacher is nice...and  #1!
  4. Not assuming.  I'm at my best as a trainer when I don't leave things to chance.  When I'm training someone at work, I never assume that they know things.  I always ask first. 
In the handful of times I've showed someone some things about working out, my hard-learned lessons from work have served me well. 
I didn't mention how much someone can lift in the above-mentioned pointers because I was talking about how I go about training people at work.  I didn't mention it because it doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on how good of a trainer someone ends up being.  What was fascinating to me about the taunt that Paul Carter spoke of was that he is on the cusp of pulling and squatting 700 lbs on both lifts.  So what if he was sitting amongst guys who already past those two marks repeatedly?  It's not like he's unqualified to teach people about lifting.  This sort of thinking is just another example of iron addiction that I've wrote about in the past.  Like any other addiction, it doesn't do any service to anyone.

No comments: