By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
October 29, 2015
There is a belief in the fitness world, believed almost to be canon, that losing “gains” is the worst possible thing to lose in your life on your fitness journey. Now, this is usually reserved for the knuckleheads that take the idea of fitness and health to extreme levels, mainly to the point where they become so transfixed on the idea of always improving, they tend to miss out on life. It becomes an obsession, sometimes driven to the point where they start taking massive amounts of supplements and live to get “swole.” Now, this isn’t just something that affects people who want big muscles, this affects just about any athlete that might be slowing down due to a combination of age, injury and the simple fact there are other people better than him. Take a look at Albert Pujols. The guy was the greatest living player in baseball, a perverse combination of speed and power that no one had ever seen. Since he is most likely not on steroids or other performance enhancing drugs, he is now starting to decline…..and fast. He can still crank out 35-40 home runs, but his .300+ batting average is tanking every season, to the point where he is no different than strike-out king Adam Dunn (though I doubt he will average 200 strike-outs a season!). It’s been five years since he hit .300, and needless to say, people are pissed. Now, he might have just had a bad season and the .244 batting average was just an anomaly, but getting paid 25 million to hit like a second tier slugger is going to get a lot of trolls angry. But then again, what did you expect? Natural strength cannot last forever, and you unless you get used to the decline, you will be pretty miserable. For baseball nuts like me, it is kind of sad, because now his shot to break the all-time homer record is going by the wayside, and much like Ken Griffey, Jr. before him, age and his refusal to use PEDs will probably be his undoing (and in Griffey’s case, and a porcelain body late in his career). But if you ask Pujols himself, he doesn’t seem to care too much. He already stated that he would retire in 2020 if his daughter qualified for the US gymnastics team! Take that father’s of the world that claim they love their daughters! (okay, maybe he still can’t touch the guy that traveled to a remote location in the Middle East that had been in dispute and unclaimed, and literally claimed it as a kingdom so his daughter could be an actual princess….we’ll let the internet decide over time whether this is the dumbest, most ridiculous thing ever or not).
Anyway, I’m not gonna lie, but things are taking a turn for the worst for me, and since I really liked my list feature last week, I’m gonna do it again!!
5. ADMITTING YOU HAVE LOST GAINS AND NOT GETTING ANGRY IS THE FIRST STEP
Jon gave me a pretty good workout on Tuesday, one that didn’t focus on function or reps, but one that focused on pure power. I had to do five sets of five bench presses, five sets of five deadlifts and five sets of five over heads presses with the barbell and then finish up with some kettle bell rows. The only catch was to go as heavy as I could. I kept it safe with the bench press, merely because I was by myself and kept it at 155 pounds. With the exception of my last rep, I pretty much did all of these pretty well. I will admit, I maybe could have done 165 or 170, but without a spotter, I decided to be safe. This part of the workout tells me that maybe I can still do 200 on the bench press, or maybe not, who knows. That was always my weakest movement. But it was the deadlift that brought me to tears. I might have been tired or something, but I just couldn’t do 315 pounds. It kind of pissed me off, because I have certainly neglected my deadlift and this is the freaking result. I went down to 265 and got a decent workout out of the thing, but it clearly tired me out and I settled for 135 on the barbell overhead presses. Now, I was pretty disappointed in myself, because deep down, I know I have done better. But this leads to the next topic….
4. UNDERSTAND THE REASON FOR YOUR LOST GAINS
Now, a lot of people will post just about any excuse under the sun. “I started using a new whey protein.” “The gym changed it’s hours and too many old people are there.” “Dudes are using the squat rack to do curls.” “Aliens abducted me and reduced my muscle.” Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the picture. But this is a problem most people and much of the world for that matter doesn’t seem to get….cause and affect. If you truly don’t understand home something works and why it happened, then you are just going to repeat the problem and possibly get yourself hurt in the process. Me, I know what is happening; I’m just not getting to the gym enough. Reducing my weekly attendance from three to two trips a week has certainly taken a toll. The momentum I had going for me has reduced, and now I have to start dealing with the consequences. The same goes for my running, for I am reduced to two runs a week as opposed to three. It’s frustrating, because my personal bests are suddenly out of reach and, and in regards to the running, the 800-mile in one year goal is gonna be an uphill battle. Now I already know the reason, for my harsh work schedule on the weekends knocks everything for a loop, and it will get worse when the Christmas season comes around and I see myself working 60-80 hours a week (yes, you heard that right…I even have to work on my birthday). Is it something I should get angry over? Yes! Is it something I should plan to remedy? Yes! But how far should I take this situation, and what plans should I be making? Well, it is pretty much understood in the back of my head that I’m going to have to restart everything right after the New Years, and whatever happens…happens. Which means I need to be ready for the next step.
3. DEVELOP A PLAN
Now, I don’t know how this is going work out, but in the next couple weeks, I intend to seriously look at a gym membership. I got a couple near my house, and while they could never come close to what I get at Parsons Training, using their equipment and services to supplement my life might be helpful. I want to get back to leg pressing. I want to rework my dead lift, especially since I am losing a lot of dexterity and strength in my hands and wrists as I cut and use them to death at work. Here’s what I was thinking. Since I might reach a point where I would be lucky to get my butt into Parsons Training, I could certainly swing by the gym and do maybe one or two different movements for maybe a half hour or so. Just work on those things and stay in shape, but not work myself hard where I would be hurting and absolutely useless at work the next day. So here is the plan I might implement. Maybe go into the gym and do some deadlifts (provided they have the equipment) and some overhead presses for half an hour. Then the next night try to do some chest presses or bench presses, then do a little squatting. You see, what I was thinking is just trying to stay in shape. I don’t know if I can, but also trying to do some maintenance running a couple times a week will be good, merely to the effect that three miles at a time might be all I can do. Ideas are just spinning in my head. I have do something! Now I could just work 60 hours a week (or five work days) and be done with that, but man, I have some debts I want to pay before the darn slow season comes. And plus, I was thinking of visiting friends and family in Denver and Austin this year. It has just been too long. So that will be a conundrum that I will have to roll with when the time comes around. Do I sacrifice all my working out for some things I might want to do or just do the minimum and maintain my current trajectory. Ugh, why does this have to be so complicated!
2. FIND OTHER THINGS THAT WILL OFFSET YOUR LOSS OF GAINS AND FIX YOUR PSYCHE!
Now, I was in a bad mood on Wednesday, especially when I see Jon’s other star clients, the Ward boys Reece and Ryan, killing it in the gym. I’ll admit, I got a little jealous and thought “Man, I got to do something to reassert my manliness!” Okay, I didn’t say that, but I felt I had to do something that would certainly make me feel better about myself. Sure, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people, but it is a necessary evil sometimes. Now, with Ragnar Las Vegas coming up next week, I have an 8.1-mile run slated for me, which also happens to be in the middle of the night and most likely non-van supported as well. This means I will be alone in the whatever dark expanse I am trudging through. But here is the problem….it has been weeks since I have run that distance! So Wednesday became the day whether I would run that distance or not, and I decided to utilize my home course for the honors. I failed miserably on Friday night, churning out only 5.51 miles. You see, the up and down nature of the course is perfect for putting my body through hell, and with the unique mix of dirt, concrete and asphalt paths, it is a great way to get some training done. The fact so few people use the path is a stunning indictment on the Southside of Tucson, for the toughness of the path has burnt out many runners I have seen attempt it while walking my dogs (and also occasionally running). So I told myself “Do at least 8.1 miles and this will make up for the failure at the gym.” It really wasn’t an easy run so to speak, for the weather was still 81 degrees and there was a slight breeze in my face on the first couple miles, but ultimately, I just started running way too fast. I was averaging a sub-10 minute per mile time going into the fifth mile, and I could already feel my body giving me a little hell. It always starts at the knee and goes to the calf, which is what was happening with my left leg. But lo and behold, I wrestled right through it. I got so fired up that I powered through the 6-8 mile legs of my run in sub 10-minute time as well, even though it was at an incline. Once I hit 8.1, I just kept going and battled forward for a nine-mile run. I have people to impress, dammit! Once I hit the nine mile mark, I checked my per-mile time. 9:57! Pretty darn good considering I haven’t run close to that distance in quite a while. I felt pretty damn good about myself, even though I was quite woozy from supposedly losing 1800 calories. But I made it, and then wrote this blog!
1. DON’T CALL YOUR DIGRESSION “LOSSES”
Okay, I’m sure the PC police will get on my case about this, because so many people are enamored with supposed “real talk,” which is often just code speak for racist, misogynist, xenophobic assholes trying to justify their misguided opinions. When I “lose” some of my gains, I really shouldn’t call them losses. When you really look at the nitty gritty of the situation, how many people actually do what I do? Why I certainly feel a little low compared to some of the great peers I see in my real life and my digital life, I sometimes need to remember a few things. We all have different trajectories in our life, and often times life can muddy up that trajectory. I kind of like that term, “muddying up my trajectory.” Sure, I can’t lift the weight I used to a mere few months ago, but should I get pissy about it when I know maybe 60-70% of the population can’t even come close to what I do? Okay, okay, this might be some kind of silly justification I’m trying to do, but why should I be mad? Honestly! Getting too upset about some things that are slightly out of my control can be really unhealthy. Besides, I know I have digressed a little and I now have a tentative plan that I intend to implement soon. But what the heck is anger going to do? Now some of you might say I got angry about gaining weight in 2014 and started going harder than ever, but that was a different situation, one where I didn't have a job that would wreck my body for 12 hours at a time. Plus, that was 100% my own fault, for I really didn’t count the calories and really didn’t watch what I ate. While my weight loss has stagnated a little, I still feel good, and I’m still fitting better than ever in my clothes. I have to remember this loss is not entirely my fault, for the luck of the cards have given me some bad hands. But I’m still kicking ass, and I am still taking names. Right now, I just have put all of that ass kicking to the side and engage in a holding pattern once Thanksgiving comes around. And heck, I just ran nine miles tonight? Who the heck can say they did that? Either way, I am not saying I am content with what I am doing at the moment, for I am far from content. But I also have to remember perspective. I’m still in the best shape of my life, still slowly but surely dropping some weight, and still in better shape than most people. It’s just my trajectory is a little muddied right now. Soon enough, I will be back on the track I was on for the longest while. I just have to be patient and wait for the New Year!
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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