Or the joys of training partners and how they can bring you up.
Today I was chatting with two folks (the British Invasion and Emelia Firth) who work in the lab with me while they were taking a studying break and I was just calling it a day from doing data entry and some analysis myself. We talked a bit about muscle adaptation to aerobic training and such. How the longer you train for, the greater your chance of getting injured can become just due to the volume and intensity you have to inflict on your body to keep making progress (be it endurance performance, strength, or sports in general). We talked about keeping the recovery balance in mind so you can perform at your best abilities and not short circuit your progress. Even made a little pass in to how heavy lifting can be fatiguing on your nervous system. (Really I was just stalling because I had little to no interest in training that day). But, the best part of the conversation was when one of them asked me if I really liked training with people that are stronger than me since they thought it was motivational.
That is a great question
I thought about it for a moment and in all honesty, I don’t really get that much out of training with folks who are stronger than me. What I get a lot out of from training is seeing the people that push themselves. You don’t have to be strong to do this. You don’t have to be weak either. You just have to want it. Have to be ready to bleed for it. Every person that I would call a true training partner of mine can turn it up and get after it. This doesn’t always mean screaming and shouting (but it happens). It means being ready to lay it down.
Enter “Kill a Man”
When I was back in Kansas training in Robinson a young man came in and started training with us. He is about 5’10-11” and at that point about all of 140lbs. soaking wet. He was rangy and the bar was thicker around in some places than he was. What that kid had though was drive. The first time we watched him squat we all reeled back in fear and winced watching his technique, but damn did he want it. His was the face of determination. At this point I had been training and competing in powerlifting for about 7 or 8 years and not that I didn’t still enjoy it, but I forgot about what that hunger looked like. Especially what it looked like to be ready to kill for it again and attack the weights. When that kid came in he attacked squatting 135 like it killed his parents. It was awesome to behold. With time he kept coming back and soon enough he was grinding hard with 155, 165, 175… 225 and beyond.
Last I heard he was squatting 315+ which is a solid weight for any person in my book. He and I don’t talk as much as we did when I was still in Kansas, but I will always remember that look in his eyes. That wince and twist of his face in both rage and pain while squatting heavy. Those memories never fail to inspire me when I am wondering why I’m even training or questioning if I’m going to train that day. I really can’t say enough good things about this guy.
Another good friend of mine you would think drank a bottle of ipecac for a preworkout supplement, due to the fact that he frequently would vomit on prowler pushing days or squatting days. The strength club at Kansas just understood on Monday that the trashcan needed to be near his rack for use. The key is folks if you work hard enough that you puke from training you have literally dropped your blood pH so much that your body thinks you are poisoned and it voids your gut so you don’t die. This for “Kuipes”, was just a Monday. Now, was it a good thing that it seemed like he had an eating disorder, or the fact that my wife asked me: “Does he always puke?”. Not so much, but you know they are working damn hard to do this. This guy will always be a good friend that is not afraid to do the work.
Short sidebar, one time he came over to our apartment at the time to push the sled. Of course he vomited, but he had been eating a lot of raw vegetables at that time and literally did a “rainbow yawn”, where his vomit was every color of the color wheel except for blue all over the parking lot and it didn’t go away for about two weeks.
There is a gym in Columbus, Ohio called Westside Barbell. To say it is an intense powerlifting gym is quite the understatement. Some people love it, some people hate it, but Westside is Westside. If you are ever in the area and just want to see an environment filled with people that just want it. That are willing to fight and die for it. You should go to the gym and see it. Every time I have visited that gym I have always gained a few stories and got some new ideas. One quote from the coach there Louie Simmons that I enjoy is (paraphrasing); “Walk with the lame and develop a limp”. Well if most people will always move to the average, that place is going to bring most people up to levels they never dreamed. Finding a solid environment to train in is always an important factor. For the love of god avoid gyms that actively try to remove people that are actually training hard. Odin forbid if any of us aspire to greatness in this life and that terrifies the weak.
I don’t really care how strong you are, weak you are, tall you are, short you are, etc. I just want to train with people that are game. That will throw down and take hard shots at what was once their limits. Do yourself a favor and find someone like this in your gym and just train with them. Doesn’t matter what type of athlete they are, you will hopefully learn something about that grit and dedication the hard training requires.
If you are reading this and interested in some training programming help shoot me a message either on twitter of facebook and we can hopefully come up with some ideas to make your training better. What I will require is that we do this with a three month commitment in mind and I will post about what you did and your progress whether it works or not.