Most people who stay in this sport for more than one year are often hyper-competitive and dream of winning a pro card one day. While this will actually come true for a select few, the odds are stacked against the masses. The vast majority will have to remember that this is a hobby that is physically and mentally rewarding even if the outcome doesn’t meet the set goal. Though for the few with the time, money and genetics, the highest level of competition can be just a few years down the road. To keep you on the straight and narrow I’ve provided a list of don’ts and how to manage those temptations for a better outcome.
Don’t be a limit strength chaser
While it’s exciting to have an overhead or max deadlift record, the smart athlete avoids becoming obsessed with that number. Max events are not very common is contests due to the time they take and the fact that they can be quite boring to an audience. You may only see a handful of them a year. Many times the winners of these events are the same faces contest after contest, due to being predisposed to being a “natural” at the event. These athletes will often have weaknesses in their game that are not max event related, and that never changes. You will also risk injury testing those singles and trying to move an already healthy number to the limit.
Smart athletes will become a master of reps in the three to eight range. Handling poundages in this zone will build strength, power and endurance; and your max will soon follow without the day to day grind of always working 90% or greater. Stick with the smart rep scheme, watch all your numbers go up over the long term and be better prepared for the bulk of events that require you to do more than just a single.
Settle down, Francis
Every session is not an opportunity for a personal record and every event day is not a contest! While I appreciate people who work hard, going full out every session is a recipe for disaster. While it is necessary to push yourself to the limit, you should have this happen to help with a peak or when you come off a rest period. I’ve watched athletes burn out in a year because their body could just not meet the demands of daily beatings. You must strive to find a sustainable pace that matches your recovery. If you are sore every day or are constantly tending to minor injuries, take heed that you may be going too crazy and should back off.
Keep your eyes on the prize
It is easy to get distracted and this can happen in more than one way. A new dating interest, home improvement project, or even a spectacular summer with plenty of parties can cause you to miss sessions. This is a guaranteed way to make sure you compete less and less well. Ask any strongman gym owner how much time they have to compete now that they have their own facility. You should always maintain balance in your life, but to be really great at this sport you will have to make training a priority. Tread with caution on new ground as you do not want to risk getting too far off your chosen road.
You have grown comfortable with your success
You have become the strongest woman in your crew and you dominate Saturday events. You win you local qualifier easily and get oh so close to a podium spot at Nationals. You vow to win next year but the same thing happens. This sport is constantly evolving and the standards rise year to year. In 2016 I penned this article detailing what I believed to be the average numbers you needed to be competitive in each class. After reviewing it, I would move almost all of those numbers up by 10% or more! 1,000 pound yokes are now commonplace in the men’s middleweight division and I’ve seen more than a few 140 pound women pulling over 400 for reps. If you haven’t hit your body’s actual maximum potential (almost no one ever does) you should make sure you are constantly making progress in your events. Realize that small successes are just teasers and you must never be complacent to be a true champion.
It goes without saying that you must enjoy your training and look forward to being part of the best strength sport in the world. Be happy, train smart, rest, have a good game plan and most things will fall into place. Be wary of the above pitfalls, and you are doing that much more to help yourself reach your ultimate goal.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.