By Tucker Loken
What is it that you really want to get out of the time you spend in the gym? Do you want to get as strong as possible? Do you want to get big and shape and sculpt your body? Do you want to have incredible endurance? We have so many ways to compete now that the options are endless, but if we look at activities that are all within the same vein of using barbells and weights like bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongman, Crossfit, or Olympic lifting, the training methods and goals differ greatly.
I’ve met a lot of people that have never sat down and asked themselves “what do I want to be best at?”
I’ve talked with the Crossfit/powerlifter girl who likes to do extra bodybuilding work on her off days so she can get some sculpting work done. I’ve talked with the guy who finds a football player workout on bodybuilding.com consisting of front squats, barbell rows and overhead presses on one day and bench press, back squats and pullups the next, and talks to me about wanting to get lean and build a physique. This is all within the last year and neither are any closer to their goals than when I met them. The girl has barely made PR’s and her delts are no more rounded than when I met her, and the guy looks decent, but is still soft and doesn’t look anymore athletic, or bodybuilder-esque than when he first consulted me on his cutting diet.
What about the crossover athletes though? Yes, they exist, but they’ve all had to have this conversation with themselves too. Do I want to be the best strongman I can be, or the best powerlifter? Even though they have massive crossover, you’ll have to focus on one. Being the best Olympic lifter you can be means you won’t be able to brag about your huge bench numbers, but you can certainly talk about your clean and jerk.
I’ve had to ask myself these questions as of late too. My formative years in the gym were bodybuilding only. I liked to squat heavy and do all that, but I didn’t know anything about form, powerlifting programs. or anything else – I just went heavy when it felt good like most uninformed bodybuilders. When I decided to get serious about powerlifting, I worked with Brian and gave myself the mental task of putting away bodybuilding training for a full year while we worked together. Since then, it’s been a consistent deliberation in my head between bodybuilding and powerlifting. We’ve even got a book in the works on how to put the two together, but talk with Brian, Danny, or myself and we will all tell you that a jack of all trades is a master of none. I put on some good mass and shaped my body with our Powerbuilding plan, but would constantly running Powerbuilding plans do more than focusing on hypertrophy training towards my bodybuilding goals? Of course not. Just like 10 weeks of powerbuilding won’t peak you properly for a meet, but it’s a great mix up to play with your rep ranges, add some muscle and work on a different goal in your off-season cycle.
I’ve got my name behind our Powerbuilding plan, and if I could train like that year-round I would. There’s nothing more satisfying than having your reps and intensity planned out, putting more weight on the bar each week, smashing some heavy weights, and then moving on and getting a great pump afterwards. Watch any bodybuilder’s workouts though, and you’ll notice they rarely train like this. Machines, dumbbells and barbells are used equally, if not more emphasis put on machines and dumbbells, and although they might go heavy once in a while on squats, or bench, it’s not every workout, and often they don’t even deadlift.
I had to decide one day, where is my place in the gym, and better yet, where is my place on this team? PowerRack Strength is focused on powerlifting, so I felt some pressure to continue with some form of this training, but at the end of the day, it’s not suited towards my greatest goal. When Brian introduced me at a seminar as the “bodybuilder on the team” something about it felt right. The label itself felt very genuine and authentic and I realized if I had to choose between being a great bodybuilder, or a great powerlifter, my heart and passion would be leaning towards bodybuilding rather than powerlifting.
This doesn’t mean I won’t be doing any powerlifting meets, or that I don’t deadlift, it just means that if you really want to be good at something, you have to be disciplined with yourself, and accept that you can’t be good at everything. It’s common knowledge that you’ll have to suffer for your goals in the fitness world, but beyond physical suffering, you’ll have to be willing to suffer mentally when you put other pursuits aside in order to fully chase just one.
The lack of consistency and concrete goal setting is something that ends up keeping a lot of people at only a mid-level of achievement because they move from one to the other, or just don’t realize that you have to be able to focus to intently on one thing for a long time in order to be your very best at it. If you haven’t asked yourself yet, I’d encourage you to – What’s your real goal? What’s the thing in the gym that if you never achieved you’d feel like your life was incomplete? That’ll show you the way to your biggest priority, and you can take it up and run with it with full commitment.
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