Hard work

“Hard work beats talent.”

Hard work is essential. While this is true, I think this quote is misleading and only valid when talent coasts and doesn’t apply themselves. Many people got on board with this quote when Tim Tebow was playing in the NFL. Not that he coined the phrase, I don’t think, but he seemed to make it popular. It’s a meme that many people ignorant of strength training, in particular, feel that if you do the most work, you have the best likelihood of success. I’m afraid I have to disagree with this, and I will tell you why.

Hard work at the appropriate time

One should strive to work optimally and with maximum effort in everything we do. But not everything we do should we have to do until it’s hard. Yes, you have to work hard, but some of us teeter on the verge of overtraining and injury already. Another couple of sets or adding another day in the gym could be the end of an athlete or a career. Or six months to a year or more rehabbing an injury/surgery.

“Train hard, but not as hard as possible.”

The above quote is from the great strength coach Buddy Morris, and I include it in my strength training manual 10/20/Life. Buddy is with the Arizona Cardinals as their head strength coach. I met Buddy at Elitefts about ten years ago and heard him speak about training athletes for a few hours, and much of what he said has stayed with me. Do enough to be great, and that’s it. If what you are doing right now is working, whether you feel you are training hard or not, you might want to keep on the path.

A word about  overtraining

In general, the vast majority of people I see with their backs and injury is due to too much load, insufficient rest, and heavy training without proper progressions. In short, they overtrain. I’ve been fortunate to help people get out of severe back pain and get back under the bar. The caveat is that when they return to lifting, they cannot return to their former program, which broke them. In addition, their former program didn’t account for the accumulated damage to their spine. Pushing too hard and doing an extra set here and there moved them over the tipping point until they could no longer train due to pain. As many of you have read in Gift of Injury, I did the same thing! It’s widespread.

My mission now that I’m retired from powerlifting competition is to help as many people as possible train smart and recover from injury. If you want my help with programming, coaching in-person/virtual, or a virtual consultation if you’re stuck, you can contact me here to book a consult. 

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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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