A Month of Steel and Counting
Exactly one month ago, much consideration, I enlisted the help of James Steel with my training. I say after consideration because there are a plethora of coaches/athletes, many of them quite impressive, out there offering online consults. I had become aware of Mr. Steel from Elitefts and subsequently followed his writings both on his site and various others.
When I stumbled upon "Steel Reflections", I purchased read and thoroughly enjoyed it. Jim's experiences in my neck of the woods (rural NC) resonated with me as did his very practical and earnest philosophy on lifting and life (is there really any difference?). Despite his now residing on the other side of the line (any southerner should be able to figure that out), I decided to overlook that and get in touch.
Boy am I glad I did.
I have always been active and fit, though nothing on any elite kind of level. Though I have a 30 year history of Okinawan karate training, I did not seriously pick up the weights until the last decade. Of course, the first 5 or so years were spent in newbie purgatory, where I haphazardly trained in accordance with the current trends. I did experience the novice effect but quickly leveled out.
However, I did have the bug and hunger to get bigger and stronger. My goals were simply to get stronger and as someone approaching 50 (did I just write that?), I wanted to be old man strong and kick ass. When my wife and I moved to our new house, I bought a power rack and weights, GHR and various bars for training in my garage. I prefer to train alone, because I am somewhat asocial. I made decent progress following a few popular programs, but I always knew I was not training optimally.
After a quick query and response, I provided Jim with a pretty detailed breakdown of my training history. I included by stats and my best gym lifts as well as my goals. Within a couple of days I had my first weeks training program in hand and like others have written, the first thing I thought was "volume!". Jim had taken into consideration my busy life as well as my equipment and stats for a program that would tax me, but not kill me. Every week, adjustments are made and new goals are created for that week.
Since I train alone, I have never really had the confidence to push things and though I certainly train hard, I seldom pushed myself to the point of grinding/straining. Because of that, I was not really getting the most out of my training. Along the way, Jim has challenged me and I've had the motivation to get my reps in as prescribed. This has made a tremendous difference in my strength levels. I still get my weekly training and think "Holy shit, he's fucking crazy!", but each week I "lift the weight" and get it done. Each week, I can feel myself getting stronger and I am beginning to notice some hypertrophy changes too. He's designed a program around my weaknesses and is always forthcoming with critique of my form (through video) and encouragement. Through video, I've been able to make adjustments to my form and its making a difference. With notes in my training for the week like, "push the lockout!" or "gotta get these, lots of speed", I have a mental focus that I never had training solo.
I am only a month into working with Jim at the time of this writing, but I have arranged ongoing consultation. I highly advise anyone on the fence to make the jump, you will be shocked at your progress! No matter how seasoned you are, there is always a great benefit to working with Jim, simply because he has done it all, seen it all, and has come out on the other side with a no bullshit philosophy that centers around hard work.