Barbell Life Skills – Resilience

What’s up Sasquatch fans and athletes, as we move forward during this quarantine, we would like to remind any athletes who do not have any equipment to train with to reach out to us and we would be happy to get you set up with some equipment. Those athletes who have borrowed equipment, please send in a picture (of that gear) to our Facebook at OR if you are not using that gear, please coordinate to drop it off so another athlete can have the opportunity to use it.

…Now …

I would like to share a story from my childhood, about my very first lifting coach. While I was in high school, I wanted to get stronger and try to add some mass to my frame. If you would have seen me then my build was on the longer and lankier side. With my goals in mind, I found a gym I would be able to get to by bike or older friends with cars. This gym happened to be under a supermarket, to get to it I had to traverse a dungeon-like staircase just to locate the front door. Upon entering, the front room was filled with trophies and pictures of contest winners. The back of the training area was lined entirely with mirrors while on the wall was painted a Viking or gladiator in the likeness of Arnold, fighting a saber-tooth tiger. This was an old-school bodybuilding gym. I knew this was where I was going to get strong.

This is where the problem began, I had no idea what I was doing or even the right place to start. The internet was still in the dark ages of DSL, websites like Elite FTS and T-nation were just coming to be. As a young high school kid, I also didn’t have the knowledge of where or how to find them. What I did have were magazines. I read them all, trust me when I say the information was conflicting and convoluted. So, I did the only thing that I could think to do… I asked the owner for help. He was a Mr. America winner as well as a Mr. Universe runner up in ’86, his name was Greg Long. This was more than a decade after his competition days and he still had one of the best physiques I have seen in my life!

Through the years training in that gym, I did not personally work much with Greg but one thing that did stand out were his simple, yet intense, workouts. One day he pointed to two steel plates, a 25lb and 45lb. He told me that those were the only plates I could work with in the gym. As a rowdy teen, I immediately asked “well then whats the point of all the 2.5’s, 5’s, 10’s etc.!” Greg then told me something that has stuck with me ever since. “if you aren’t strong enough to put the plate (45lb) on, do more reps with the quarter (25lb).

Little did I know but that simply statement was going to shape who I was and how I trained forever. I didn’t realize at the time but in severely limiting my choices, Greg effectively taught me patience, simplified my training and kept my ego in check. Instead of training 3 sets of 10 like every magazine at the time told you to do, my training became 3 to 4 sets to failure until I was able to get that one rep at 135lb. That one rep eventually became two, then three … until I saw my first rep at 185lb. I had been doing a progression without even knowing it.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone that its important to make the most of what we do have during times like these. Learn to work on the things that we don’t want to, target our weaknesses, be simple and deliberate. Where there is a will, there is a way. Countless people have grown incredibly strong through simple and minimal training plans. Some of the most impressive human physiques are that of gymnasts, wrestlers, and even prison inmates! What do those people have in common? Bodyweight…exercises that no athlete can “outgrow”, we can always make them harder and we can always add more reps. If you have fitness goals, now is the time to readdress them, ensure they are SMART, and take advantage of our community and coaches to help adapt and overcome any hurdles you may face!

I tell my lifters often, “the lifter that lifts the longest, lifts the most”. The strength game is a long haul, it’s a path that some people travel for a few years and fall off, but it’s the athletes that stay the course who become successful. This path is filled with adversity… hiccups, setbacks, aches and pains, and maybe some injuries. This is where we encourage you to let the barbell, the iron, teach you how to be resilient. Teach you how to keep moving when times are tough. Times like today teach us how to re- focus, re-adjust, re-engage and most of all how to remain resilient!

-Coach Al