29 Dec Powerlifting and YOUR Health – What’s the REAL DEAL? Part 1
By: Brian Carroll
Lately, there is so much discussion taking place online about health and competing in any sport at the highest level. As you probably know, I’m a huge advocate of balance and having a life outside of lifting. To me you should have something outside of your lifting to keep you sane and grounded to life; well as much as possible. I say that jokingly because most of us are wired differently but most of us need something to distract us from being totally and completely obsessive about our passion or hobby.
We make sacrifices even though we have somewhat of a balanced life. Most of us will never be “normal” but we can lead a pretty normal life with friends, family and significant others. Even with the life we have to lead outside of lifting, we make many sacrifices as we try to push the envelope and excel in this sport we love. Most of us will do things that will not be promoting health in any way, and will most likely hurt our health in the long run.
You’ve heard the saying, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin”. I’ll take it a step further; if you aren’t putting your health on the line to a certain extent, you aren’t trying. I know that sounds like shit, but if you are giving it your all to be a better athlete, you assume the physical risks of training and competing. That is the undeniable truth.
“But, Brian, you talk about longevity and balance and living life….”
Yes I do, all of the time, but that does not mean that while I’m driving and pressing hard toward my goals that I’m not putting myself at risk with the things I choose to do. I don’t even have to touch PED’s really (but I will) and each and every one of us uses a PED of some sort for your own training.
You don’t think you take something to enhance your workouts or your life? Think again.
Do you slam some coffee or pre-workout powder because you are feeling tired as hell before a workout? How about an energy drink as you’re prepping for your presentation or some valium when going through some family issues? Ever take some Advil, maybe popped some Vicodin or Percocet so you could compete or train? Have you ever used any over the counter supplements like testosterone boosters, BCAA’s, etc? These are all performance enhancing! Even Marijuana is performance enhancing in a way. It helps you to relax and recover, allows you to eat more, takes away anxiety and can potentially make sleep much more efficient and deep.
If you think, “well I don’t take steroids, so it isn’t a PED”, you aren’t thinking of all the extra “natural” stuff you take to help you train and be better.
Most of these are actually banned by the IOC/Boxing Commission, which means a few cups of coffee would possibly give you a positive drug test for them. That makes coffee a PED.
I could go on about Cialis, Adderall and others, but you get the general picture. What about those who smoke cigarettes to calm nerves?
The bottom line is this; we all take stuff to make us better whether it is legal, grey or prescription. Some more than others, some illegal and it is up to you to decide what you take and how much you take.
One thing I do get tired of seeing is the constant words, “drug-free” or “natural” pop up as a badge of honor. That is your choice and there is nothing wrong with that, but let your accomplishments as an athlete do the talking and screw the labels.. and ask yourself are you TRULY natural?
A good athlete is a good athlete, strong is strong and a world record in a federation is just the same whether or not you add your own label of “natural lifter” to it.
Drug tested is just that “drug tested” – it’s not necessarily drug free. Balco and Lance Armstrong taught us a mighty lesson with drug tests. But, at the same time – just as many clean lifters lift in “untested federations” and this only makes them untested lifters, not lifters that are using. See the difference? Only the lifter truly knows the contents of their protocol… or lack there of.
While we are at it, if you are on Testosterone Replacement Therapy you could tell everyone you are only taking a prescribed dosage; you know for extra internet points.
See how silly it all is?
This is a personal choice, what you do is up to you but be aware of all the health risks involved so you make the best decision for you. It’s really your business only.
In part 2, I’m going to talk about powerlifting itself, the pros’ and con’s of it’s impact on the body and finally; what you can do to help mitigate some of the damage, issues that arise and things of this nature that I’ve personally faced, beat and learned from.