Friday, March 14, 2014

The Impatience Epidemic

Since I started this blog a half-decade ago, I've steadfastly refused to accommodate any suggestion that I'm an expert at any of this stuff that we do.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy working out so I figured that this would be a fun way for me to disseminate some information.  While I'm not a professional, I have distinctive experiences since my training took a far less conventional path than the average shaved ape taking up spaces at the gym. 

Since I have no illusions of being worthy of regularly consulted about working out by newbies, I was somewhat taken back when new guys at the gym that I regularly work out at started asking me tips on how I got strong.  I guess after doing this somewhat regularly for 11 years, much of which I swear I was simple stumbling around in the dark, I have something to say on the matter. 

 They have their guesses.  There are the notions of certain exercises that need to be done.  That doesn't do it, as far as I'm concerned.  Neither do specific methodologies or routines.  Consistency has to be the most common guess.  That may be close but I think that a better key to getting strong is patience.  As far as I’m concerned, patience isn’t just a frame of mind that you need to have in order to succeed.  It’s a key ingredient, as necessary as the food you eat and the movements that you do to build up your body and increase your strength. 

 Nothing good happens to the body in a hurry.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you want to get stronger, bigger, or leaner.  All goals involving the body take months, and even years, to achieve.  In a way, body transformations can be like raising children.  When my kid doesn’t do what I tell him to do, I can let it slide because I don’t feel like getting up to make him do what I want him to do.  Or, I just nip things in the ass and force him to do what he should be doing.  It’s more work now, sure, but it pays off later.  Otherwise I end up raising an intolerable cretin that is difficult to control and nobody wants to be around. 
 In other words, it can only be so easy. 
Your body is the same way.  You’ve got to have some patience and put in the work.  As I intermingle with gym culture at large, the more I realize there is an epidemic of impatience going on.  Rather than realizing that proficiency takes time, there’s a generation of gym goofs who just can’t be bothered to actually build strength over a period of months and years.  They want it yesterday and will resort to turning themselves into little more than abominations of training to meet these ends. 
  • Impatience is the kid who’ll put wrist straps on to do bicep curls with the entire weight stack on the cable machine because he’s in too much of a hurry to get big arms than bring his forearms along for the fun. 
  • Impatience is that guy who has to bench the biggest dumbbells in the gym and can’t be bothered to actually be able both fully lower and lock out those dumbbells.   
  • Impatience is those legions of people who kip their way into torn labrums rather than fully master a pull-up. 
  • Impatience are the people who focus more on strength endurance because it’s faster to develop and try to ignore max strength work because, you know, that’s REALLY hard. 
Shortcuts only last so long before the truth will bite you in the ass:  You’re not strong and you’ve screwed up because you’ve spent too much time faking it.  This realization will probably by painful too and result in set-backs.  You forgot, or never realized, how virtuous patience really is. 
I've mad my mistakes over the years but being patience, mercifully, wasn't one of them.  From an impatient eye, my 11 years of consistent training has been a study in sucking for long periods of time.  My favorite lift of all is the bent press.  I started doing that one at the tail-end of 2010 with a 35 lbs kettlebell.  It's taken me 3.5 years to get good enough to bent press 130 lbs with any regularity.   I attempted one-arm push-ups back in 2008, only getting 3 or 4 per arm, on a good day.  Now, I'm homing in on six years of training those and I'm up to around 20 per arm, or 8 per arm with 20 lbs of chain around my neck.  My 157 to 180 lbs bulk too me about 8 months.  Lately, it's taken me 8 weeks to sustain a 10 lbs weight increase despite having a soda-straw for a left leg begging for some gains. 

So, if you're new to this whole subculture and are looking for what you're missing as you mindlessly switch from one routine to the next while looking for every shortcut imaginable because you can't stand the thought of sucking in the gym, do yourself a favor and accept the fact that this takes time.  If you don't get this, you don't get strength training.