I read a very insightful article yesterday from Michael Keck where he posed the following question:

Are you building strength or testing strength?

Let’s look at the differences first:

  • Athlete A: This lifter hit a PR a month or so ago. Every time he trains, he’s trying to hit that number again, at all costs. Doesn’t matter what the warmup feels like, what the rest of the session includes, the only thing that matters is whether or not he can match that number. Missed lifts, sore joints, technique flaws and mental anguish and frustration begin to creep in…
  • Athlete B: This lifter also hit a PR a month or so ago. (Probably because he was using my program!) However, this lifter has not re-tested. He has stayed the course and followed his programming: showing up every day, doing the work, dominating those sub-maximal loads with flawless technique. He pays attention to how his body feels and responds, pushing to new limits or backing off when necessary. He hammers the accesory work and increases physical preparation through volume and controlled intensity.
Let’s have both of these lifter re-test that same lift today. If you have to bet your life on one of these two athletes, which one will you pick?
  • Athlete B, right!
Well why the hell are so many people lifting like Athlete A?

Short answer: EGO.

We’ve all been there to varying degrees at some point in our lifting careers. But the Athlete Bs of the world, the guy who progress quickly and endlessly are the ones who realize this iron game is a marathon. We all like to show up, get covered in chalk, blood, and sweat and smash some weights. But we must remember our true purpose for training. The word training itself implies a larger goal than that single session alone. If you’re a powerlifter, that purpose is to increase your total the next time you step on that platform. Athletes train to improve performance on the field or court. Bodybuilders lift to increase the size and quality of their muscles from one show to the next. The stuff we do in the weight in simply a means to those ends. No that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our passion of working hard and getting better. It means we have to focus on just that – getting better. It means not worrying about the short-term satisfaction of our ego, or lifting more weight than the guy next us, especially if those actions undermine our true purpose for being there. It doesn’t matter what other see, hear, or think.
  • Remember the anteater. Be you. Do YOU. And make that you BETTER!
Embrace who you are and where you are currently. Realize that you are doing the best you can for you current state of development. Like our anteater friend, dare the rest of the world to have a problem with it! Focus on progress, not perfection grasshopper, and realize that every choice you make moves you closer to, or further away from your goal. And then keep moving forward dammit!
If you need help, I’m right here!