Thursday, December 20, 2018

Cookie Jar

Do you ever think about milestones that you have achieved in your training? Do you look back and wonder how you got through it, and you are still proud of yourself for pushing through?

I remember being in ninth grade and training in a friend's basement and squatting and doing 225x10 250x10 275x10 for the first time ever. I was so damn happy because I reached a goal that I had set for a few years.

Fast forward a bunch of years later when I was coaching high school in Florida and training with some students of mine at the Power Pit in Cocoa, Florida. That was a great gym. I  believe that it was owned by a bunch of police officers in the area, and it usually only had a few folks in there training, and had a front desk guy in there who was quiet but super cool and friendly.

Squat day was on Sunday morning, and I was deep into powerlifting at that point and was purposely pushing my bodyweight higher and higher, topping out at 312 pounds eventually. At five foot nine, I was pretty hefty.

I was doing a Russian Squat Program that I got from Fred Hatfield and had been doing this program for weeks. I squatted once a week. One Sunday was a lighter day, at 80% for 5x2, the next Sunday was a heavier day using 85% of my one rep maximum . The heavier day went like this-

Week one    85% 5x3   580
Week two    85% 5x4   590
Week three  85% 5x5   600
Week four   85% 5x6   610
Week five    90% 3x3   650
week six      95% 3x2   690
Week seven 100% x1   720

Each week, I would go up five pounds on the light day and ten pounds on the heavy day. Hatfield said that you should get five to ten pounds stronger every week, so your max actually goes up while you are training week to week.

The most memorable day was the 610 for 5x6. I remember thinking about that workout all week, knowing that in order to get the weight successfully, I would have to give a supreme effort going off of the difficult session that 600 for 5x5 had given me.

Each set with 610 was a challenge. After the second set, I lost my lunch in the trash basket. And although I thought that I had nothing left to puke out, after every set I would lose just a little more of my guts and then dry heave a little. Or actually a lot.  I remember the front desk guy looking at me like, what the hell? Of course, my high school students loved it, they were at the beginning stages of training and were totally into all the hardcore training.  I remember that I was a sweaty mess, my "Marathon" brand squat suit was soaked right through and that there was so much sweat that the crotch ripped right out of it. The last two sets were a test of my will. The kids had covered my upper back with chalk to stop the bar from slipping  and mixed with all of the sweat became a cake like mess on my back. Even with the chalk, the bar was still slipping down my back on every rep. I remember the last set most vividly, the bar was slipping, I was grunting, the squats became more and more like a good morning exercise on each successive rep, and my legs were in a whole other burning zone that I hadn't felt before. 

Every rep was inconsistent and different, but I had to finish. And I did finish, cheered on by my students and watched by the friendly guy at the front desk. I dry heaved for a while after that last set, but even at that time, I knew that the training session would be one that I would remember for a long time.

I was so sore that when I went to squat the next weekend, I was still feeling last week's workout. But when I went to squat 650 the following week, it felt like nothing. And then when I hit the 720 a few weeks later, it was easy also. All of the volume had made me a lot stronger, my body had adapted to the huge work load and was expecting another high volume workout and I had given it a reduced one, and it compensated by making 720 easy for me.

I think back on that one workout with 610 often, and use that memory to push through difficult situations that I am faced with in life. Former Navy Seal David Goggins calls looking back on things that you have accomplished as a "cookie jar", a bunch of stuff that you are proud of that you pushed through and can look back on and say, "Hey, I did this and that and I know that I can handle what's in front of me if I did all that other stuff. " Seems simple , but it works. That workout with 610 was a "cookie jar" moment for me, a small slice of time that stands out in my mind as a demonstration  of reaching deep inside of myself when I didn't think that I had anything left to give.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.