You Could Have Been a Contender - at One Thing

October 11, 2004 08:00 AM

For many readers, lurkers, and Comrades at www.Dragondoor.com, the Outcomes and Goals portion of their training approach has become swallowed up by a witch's cauldron of every training methodology and focus possible within a workout. Trying to be powerlifter strong, with triathlete like aerobic fitness, Yoga master flexibility, the body fat and physique of a shredded bodybuilder, the strength endurance of Russian GS CMS, and with classic MA technique, not to mention the urban warfare skills of a SWAT Team, while consuming nothing but nut paste, organically grown Chad, and Pedialyte, is a road to disaster, frustration, and failure. Not to mention greatly inhibiting your social life. In other words, you could have been a contender at one thing, but now you are just on a one way road to Palookaville, probably alone.

Now, I know some might say they know people that excel at several things, and that might be possible if by several they mean two things that are somewhat related or not contrary. There might be a SWAT team member who is a Yoga practitioner, and you might know a Powerlifter who is pretty lean and muscular-stay with me here, it is just an example-but there are NO SWAT Team members who do Yoga and Powerlift. Just as there is not probably a high level triathlete who is a GS CMS and a great bencher or squatter. There are always going to be a few genetic Freaks who defy the rules and limits the rest of us live by, but by and large you can really only be really good at one thing at a time.

So what should you do if you are now beginning to make out a sign in the distance that says "Palookaville"? First ask yourself what is your REAL goal. Don't bother with "Well, I just want to tone a bit and not get too big." That is a lazy, mindless excuse for being a gym rat or a 15 minute, 3 times a week infomercial believer, and you are not only on the aforementioned road, you are wearing a virtual "Property of Palookaville" T-shirt right now. Your goal needs to be defined more narrowly, perhaps along the lines of cardiovascular health being your priority, with maybe adding some badly needed muscle to your upper body. Obvious answers like maximum platform strength, a 40-minute 10K, MS in GS, or to be in a Yoga video with some lithe women are easy and clear. With a clear goal you can put in the training methodologies that maximize your performance in your specific goal area or competition, and address your weaknesses that inhibit your ability to improve.

I will not insult anybody with a "write down your goals" pitch. If it works for you, great, but if you need to be reminded of what your goal is, it is really not your goal. I strongly advise a competition on a specific date to really focus your efforts. A Powerlifting or Bench Meet, a GS competition, a 10K, a Martial Arts tournament, even a Yoga seminar, a stress test, or complete physical on a specific date will work. Now take the time you would have wasted on writing your goals in your Daytimer or Palm pilot and get a calendar and count the weeks to your Goal day. Write in your distractions from work, family, and any other commitments. Decide how many days you will train in a week, or even over a two-week block of time. Phase in some easy weeks and taper. Apply a known training methodology on your mapped out training days. Work at the things you don't do well and need to improve. Be realistic both in your training and goals, but don't make excuses. Keep a training log so when you are building your next plan you can review what worked and what didn't. When your Goal competition or seminar or test is completed, immediately review what you did well and what needs more work. Repeat.

Some of you are feeling the switch throw in your head and you see what you need to do. Others are wondering how are they going to seek self actualization and do Pilates with Daisy Fuentes on a TIME TABLE?!!! Honestly I wish I could help you, but I can't. Maybe a Palookaville Shirt is a small price to pay to be self actualized with Daisy, maybe better than getting to wear my Westside Barbell T-shirt when squatting with Louie and his crew?.but I digress. For those of you with the recently thrown switch in your head, keep in mind two things. First, if you want to be good at something, do it a lot. To paraphrase a Russian Powerlifting coach, if you want to bench press the most in competition, you need to do the most bench press training. Not the most sprints, handstand pushups, or sparring. Second, as Dave Tate at Elite Fitness says, if you can't name the exact reason for why you do an exercise, you have no business doing it. Just because somebody else does an exercise is NOT a valid reason! You only have so much time and training recovery ability. If an exercise or drill doesn't make you clearly better at your goal area, or fix a weakness, drop it. "Well maybe I will throw these in!", the infamous "all of the above" theory, is a dangerous possibility here. If your goal is to run a 40 minute 10K, running three 12 minute miles a few times a week while also doing some pullup ladders and Martial Arts stances will just make you a slow running Wannabe Bruce Lee. If your goal is a big bench press, and you bench your tail off, address your triceps weakness with board work and direct triceps work that you know moves your bench, improve your technique and strengthen your upper back, you do not need to add in Military press, KB jerks, weighted dips, one-arm pushups, isometric holds, cable crossovers, all after doing 20 rep squats. All of these things, except one, could be used to address a weakness or could be a goal area of their own, but you don't need to do them for your immediate goal. As Chevy Chase once so eloquently stated, "Be the Ball, Johnny."

Go Train! Don't You People Have Lives?

Just My Opinion

Jack Reape, AKA powerlifter54, is a Graduate with Merit of the US Naval Academy with a BS in Operations Analysis. He serves in the US Navy and competes locally and nationally when time permits. He is a multi time State, Region, and US Military National Champion.