For the uninitiated, it might not seem like much. But for those of us who have toiled on the Iron for years, they are gifts from the Gods.
175kgs The Hard Way!
The first part of the video shows a lift I completed at the start of my preparation for the World Bench Championships. It was 175kgs and the form did receive some criticism – and rightly so. This would have been red lighted in a competition as my ample buttocks clearly separated from the bench.
The intention here was to get the weight up (and a bit of showing off for the camera). Sometimes it is good to get the feel of a heavy weight, to get you comfortable with it.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for an inexperienced trainer. You never try a weight where you know you will be sacrificing form. As an experienced competitive lifter I know where my limits are and how far I can push the boundaries.
Fast forward six months and I have a solid six months training under my belt, and a 182.5kg lift in competition. After a post comp rest I am back into training and starting to lift the intensity.
Testing Training Progression
My program required 3 sets of 172.5kg x 2 on Monday. Previously my program was focussing on volume. Whilst still training hard, I had yet to face a real test. This was going to be a good yard stick of my progression over the program.
I had the 175kg lift on tape so this was a chance to analyse my gains. My coach/mentor Trunks Grimshaw needs no further excuse to whip out his camera!
The difference between my single at 175kgs versus the double at 172.5kg is night and day. Both repetitions at 172.5kg were performed with better form and drive than my single at 175kgs. You can see my butt remained in contact with the bench for the lift.
I might add that after the single at 175kgs I was toast. There wasn’t another rep in me that workout, or the following days. These big lifts really empty out the tank.
For those of you that haven’t gone to these levels you are probably thinking big deal? You have just managed one extra rep of slightly less weight in 6 months training. These really aren’t “sik gainz bro”.
For me these gains are massive. With weeks to run on my programs I can see evidence of progression. Plus a path for further progress.
You really have to put all your trust into the program. Sometimes you don’t feel like training or lifting the weight because it is too light or even too heavy (it’s never too heavy for me I always have to at least try).
I try to add a few percent to my PB every single training cycle. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Even if I succeed adding those few percent to my PB during the training cycle I still have to lift the weight during the day which matters the most – competition day.
Although both my form and drive for the next two sets deteriorated. They were all still better than previous 175kg lift.
Another factor that demonstrates further improvement is that I completed the lift without a spotter. Un-racking these weights by yourself drains the fuel tank more than you might think. When you are working at these limits every little bit helps.
When I un-rack the barbell by myself I can’t place myself into the perfect position as I normally would on the bench. I have to be closer to the J-hooks, my set up with and without spotter differs. That’s why my form wasn’t as perfect as I would want it to be.
Being closer to the J-Hooks means that there is a higher chance of hitting them during the grind. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you in competition. When you fight as hard as you can to complete the lift and it gets red lighted because you hit the J-Hooks.
Gains Don’t Come Easy
If you are new to the weight training game, don’t be put off by the struggle for progression. Embrace it! The weight room is a lesson in life.
Yes, you will start off with some easy gains as you start out. But over time the gain train loses steam as it struggles uphill. This is when the mentally weak give up and switch to crossfit or pilates.
For the strong willed, this is when you dig in and grind away for very little reward. But these will stack up over time – trust me. Try not to think about failure, it is easier to give up than keep going. I’ve seen people giving up on the lift instead of fighting. But there is no other way you can know your true strength. More importantly this mental strength translates to everyday life and the work place. It will make you a better person.