Why Failure Can Benefit You

By: Brian Carroll

You can’t ever stop learning or be content. Ever. Sometimes there is no enjoying the process. Once you start chasing numbers, it’s work. Keep an eye out for another article about this very subject soon. Training for a goal is not fun most of the time, but working to achieve a goal can be fun when the goal is accomplished. If you’re happy while failing then you’re an idiot and must be used to being a failure. Anything less than that, is not fun. Anyone who tells you the process was always fun must have never been seriously injured, achieved anything great or never pushed hard for something very few have accomplished.

[wa-wps]

I’m sure by now you’ve heard that I had a bad showing at the last meet I did. Shit happens and if you don’t have a bad outing every once in a while you won’t learn how to appreciate the times when things go well and come together for you. With that said, if you’re not learning and adjusting when things are off or when you struggle, you’re missing out on some of the most important and optimal information that could help you take your training to the next level. Not only that, but overcome what you are facing.

It’s been since 2010 that I had a bad meet (bomb out) and actually, it’s been a very good thing for me in a few ways. Mostly, I’m more motivated and it made me take another look in the mirror and figure out a few things that needed to be addressed.

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Keep in mind….

With 10/20/Life were are always adjusting training for a lifetime. So many different things going on in our bodies, personal lives, events, family drama, health issues etc that truly dictate what our schedules end up being. For most of us, most of the time, we don’t plan our every day around lifting (as far as work, family stuff etc) but we plan our lifting around our lives. For instance – we train every week M, W, F at 4pm because we like the time….and we happen to get off of work at 3:30. Yes, we do plan our days around training to a certain extent, but it’s really dictated by our life. Unless you’re a bouncer at a strip club or a best-selling author….

Other variables include different weak points, current injuries and injury history, what’s going on in our personal life and the different phases in training that we are have in both offseason and precontest.

Let me be clear: 10/20/life is a training PHILOSOPHY not a program. NOT everything is concrete, meaning there are MANY ways to apply 10/20/life to your training. There is also MANY things in the philosophy that not everyone will do or apply, like, or even potentially benefit from. I’m not ignorant nor am I stupid. BUT, here are just a couple things off the top of my head that will ring true with MOST who believe in the system and utilize it for a lifetime of success.

Below are just a few of the key points that 10/20/Life stands by.

  1. You build your assistance according to your weak points, not because someone does it and squats a lot…not doing what your favorite powerlifting bear says to do.
  2. You believe in a proper warm-up prior to training, not because CrossFitters like to foam roll and the masses say to do it. You want to be prepared to lift mentally and physically.
  3. Certain cues for each lift should be at least considered (maybe not all 5 but at least a couple), not because it looks extra sexy or certain lifters appear to lift this way.
  4. You should have different phases in training (i.e. offseason and peaking). Not because suddenly everyone likes hashtagging #10weeksout from “MY MEAT”. Nobody did this 3 years ago nor did they have ‘offseason’ and ‘precontest’.
  5. Creating and build your training unique for you (or your client) according to your lifting age, injury history and the other variables above. We are athletes 24/7 not just in the gym or in competition. And certainly, we do not create ones training because we saw a cool workout in a log or magazine and copied it for our client and think that’s a good idea or for your new eBook.

To tie this together – you must ask yourself – why do I do THIS? Is THIS going to make me better and why do I have THIS in my training? THIS is what 10/20/life is about. Not a chart and not just an RPE program. It’s MUCH more than that and if you think that a chart or an RPE guide is what 10/20/life is; you’re missing out.

No two training cycles, much like weight cuts are ever the same. Keep this in mind.

I’ve seen guy’s kill everything in training and have a terrible meet. And on the other hand, guys missing and getting crushed/looking terrible in training and then going 9/9 on meet day. I’ve been the victim and beneficiary of BOTH. All you can do is take the key bits of success and failures, making the changes going forward and NOT forgetting them. This is key as well. I tend to remember failure and the things that brought it on vs. success and the things that brought the success. Pain and failure ingrains my memory more than success.

Ok, now that this is out of the way, we are going to move forward with discussing the changes that I’ll be making to my training going forward due to my needs. NOTE: my needs are certainly not because I heard or saw a video of someone doing a 725lb hip thrust with a 400lb squat at 242. Both a 725lb hip thruster and following a workout or guide by someone who thinks that’s a sound way to produce power on the platform should be caned.

My 5 key areas to target:

  1. More direct leg work (ham and quad – duh) – adding GHR and leg press back in. With all the changes I’ve had to make by erring on the side of caution with my back injury history/lifting age, I’ve at times, erred on the side of being too cautious and not pushing hard enough with my leg training. I’d much rather be healthy and available than to be strong and sidelined. I’m still learning how much I can get away with but I will be adding in more direct leg work i.e. leg press, sled drags and GHR. Leg press is a highly controversial movement and I believe it does have its place in training for strength but it does not replace a main movement (i.e. squat or deadlift). When I was squatting the most (at 290+) I was doing very heavy half leg presses (I have no use for burying my knees into my chest, especially with a lot of that movement coming from lumbar flexion). It gets hard to stay on/push assistance work when the intensity is hard (precontest) and you are pretty beat up.
  2. More direct DB/Pec work on my fluff and buff day. This is the same as #1 but again, I always do raw work, but I start curtailing it as the weight gets heavier and intensity is up. Though I need to make sure to keep my fluff and buff day going to keep the muscle ‘fullness’ and hardness going that I usually start precontest with. Again, it’s something I need to get better at and keep in. Equipped lifting is NOT just as simple as throwing on gear and lifting bigger weight than you would raw. There are SO many variables in hitting a big equipped lift and actually being strong and having your muscles primed is up there on the list of importance. We aren’t even talking about your body getting used to handing more weight than you’re actually capable of raw. Some will never understand this. You do actually need strong and full muscles to be at your best but it’s very hard to hit all the nails on the head at the same time. Not to mention, this could potentially change the fit of your lifting gear, which is a whole different animal.
  3. More raw work in general for assistance work and as I’m warming up prior to ‘powering’ up on equipped days. By now it may seem that I’m beating a dead horse, but I’m not talking max weights, I’m just talking about warm-up weights. 600 on the squat, 400 on the bench and 600 on the dead. Here is the line that you have to ride – too much equipped training will make you soft and could make you stale (too much time in gear and not enough raw work can make you weak outside of the gear) and that is not what you want. You want to carryover the raw strength BUT not enough time in the gear (especially if you are new to it, changing brands, having form issues etc) can ruin a training cycle flat out. Once you’re comfortable in your gear/have it dialed in then you do need to keep enough raw training in. What is enough? This is highly dependent upon each individual. I know, especially during my latest transition into INZER gear, I have NOT spent enough time warming up raw. Another thing to keep in mind – pushing raw too hard in precontest for an equipped meet can end your training cycle or even career. This is NOT an easy path, and those that think equipped lifting is easy, you should try it.
  4. Traveling LESS. This is pretty simple. When I travel, I don’t eat as well, I don’t sleep on schedule, my stress is higher than normal and the training is usually hit or miss. I get really weird and out of whack when I’m not in my schedule and I have had a hard time adjusting. Wahhh, boo-hoo. I’m a fucking adult and have to work! Gone are the days of laying around all day ‘waiting’ to train. That being said, I really need to implement this and travel less in precontest mode. It may not always be ideal…but I always find a way to travel in spite of myself and efforts to stay at home and locked in. I have made the very best of my situation with seminars; training in cool gyms and environments etc. but it is NOT ideal or conducive for a good competition training cycle. It comes with the territory and I accept this. The only change I’m going to make is making sure I have enough training sessions at my home gym -Adam’s Team Samson. This is so I can dial in my training with those who see my training day in and day out. This will allow for me to get into a rhythm and make my chances of a productive training cycle as high as possible vs. being on the road with sometimes enough help and sometimes having to skip sessions/adjust.
  5. Have less overall involvement in my training and others calling my numbers more. Having people keep my accountable and pushing me hard but not letting me be my worst enemy. I’m going to give Adam, Byrd, Clint (people I train with) to hold me more accountable in volume, intensity and numbers. From a distance, Beth Thomas, Zane Geeting and others advising some. (Side note – want to know how so many different coaches can have input on one individual training program? Easy – we all believe in the same philosophy!) I happen to let myself get caught up in other stuff going on that are distractions and people like Adam hold me accountable. For example; Adam called me out on having my phone in the gym and being on it too much – being distracted or worrying about another’s training, work or emails, when I need to be 100% worried about my own during this time. I need accountability just like anyone else and now more than ever with all that I have going on, I will use everything in my power. I have to learn to shut off the coaches though process sometimes, still critically think but let go of some control and trust others. I think this could be the biggest one for me.

I’ve made quite a few people mad that I created my own system and philosophy, have started my own team, business and have been successful as a lifter while doing all of this. I really enjoy the misery that this brings my detractors. When I break this squat and total record, I will owe you a massive thank you. YOU’VE been supplying my free and donated fuel for a long time and are the reason why I’m always bettering myself.

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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