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Training with Purpose: Deep Love or Cheap Lust?
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, recently got married, and generally am getting to the age when people start to “settle down.” People who are perceived as older and wiser always talk about thinking ahead and looking at the bigger picture as opposed to living in the moment. T his is opposed to those who are young, usually have tunnel vision, and can’t look past the small time f rame or distance right in f ront of them. T his is easy to observe in everyday lif e. I currently work with high school students and have experience with college students and it’s easy to see that they don’t think past the next weekend. Even in those who are older, such as young prof essionals, this is also true. T he purpose of this article is to take this ability to see the big picture versus having tunnel vision and relate it to three dif f erent areas—lif ting, coaching, and athletics.
Story behind the title…
T he idea f or both the title and the article came to me the other day while listening to music in my car. I have a pretty diverse taste in music that involves some of the typical stuf f you may expect such as metal, rap (the good kind that is pretty much dead, not the popular shit of about the past 10–15 years), and hardcore, but I also like classical, world music, and lots of other things that would get this too f ar of f track. I was listening to a song by the rapper Cormega that had the line “Who you ridin’ with? T hem or us? Deep love or cheap lust?” T his particular quote made me think about what that means. On the surf ace, most would equate it with the dif f erence between a long-term relationship/marriage and banging some real “catch” who was probably in a drunken stupor when met in a bar parking lot af ter closing time. T hose who can’t see the big picture go with option B and don’t have any consequences f or their actions. T hey aren’t going to catch any shit because they don’t have any real commitment to anything. Contrast this with someone who is already involved with option A going out and thinking that he can choose to partake in option B. Anyone involved with someone with any amount of self -respect can expect to get his ass dumped, divorced, or worse. You might be wondering where this is going. T his does have a point so bear with me f or a second. In any type of training that is goal-oriented, there is always a bigger picture. You should always keep the bigger picture in mind to keep f rom getting sidetracked and possibly f ucking up the end goal. Next, let’s look at this f rom the perspective of the lif ter, coach, and athlete.
In ref erence to the lif ter…
T his analogy can apply to a lif ter depending on a f ew f actors. T he love (i.e. commitment) should always be the meet. Everything that is done should be f or the purpose of perf orming on meet day, and training should be f ocused on improving the results on the platf orm. However, there are some lif ters who live in the moment during every training session and can’t understand how to leave some in the tank at the right time. In this case, the training becomes the lust. For some, this is because they train too heavy or can’t get over the whole “I need to f eel weight bef ore the meet” mentality. You can’t argue with the f act that heavy weights make you strong, but there’s a problem if you’re constantly running yourself into the ground and everything is a grind.
Of ten times, you might hear a lif ter say, “I don’t get it. I got this weight in the gym a f ew weeks ago.” He probably shot his load on it and then was gassed going into the meet. As f ar as the whole “needing to f eel it” thing, this could be individual, but let’s be honest here. Any weight that is truly going to be a max will most likely f eel heavy. Imagine that. Training can also become lust if you’re competing too much with others in the gym instead of saving it f or the meet. It doesn’t do you any good to be the strongest guy in the gym in some cock-of f that your buddy created if it doesn’t help you when meet time arrives. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t compete with others because competition is usef ul on important exercises. However, don’t be the idiot tapping yourself out one week f rom a meet in a single leg, 6/3/X tempo, lateral raise to f ailure that your boys came up with.
Training can also become lust if you push yourself harder in other lif ts when your primary work f or the day didn’t go so well. I’ve f allen into this trap many times when the movement that should be what I’m most f ocused on f eels of f . Rather than take a realistic look at my recovery to see if I need to just shut it down, I would do more volume in other movements to “make up” f or my poor perf ormance. If recovery is truly limited, this won’t help anything.
In ref erence to the coach…
In the realm of coaching, the love versus lust continuum comes into play just like in lif ting. It can vary depending on whether the coach only handles physical preparation or is a sport coach. However, in both realms, what always will matter most is what happens on game day or in competition. Head coaches aren’t getting f ired because of squat maxes, points aren’t added to scores based on how clean a practice drill looks the week of the game, and championships aren’t solely dependent on sprint times. For coaches who only handle physical preparation, this “lust” usually occurs in the weight room. T he commitment to general weight room exercises such as the squat, bench, clean, or anything else is one particular love af f air that in reality is just lust. While it’s important to have a measuring stick f or general strength, the commitment shouldn’t be to making your athletes the best in these respective movements. No one is receiving a national championship because they averaged the biggest squats or cleans in the country. Another problem is doing everything to make an athlete better at the general lif t without thinking about the big picture. If most of your time is dedicated to having athletes perf orm movements with limited power output because they are so inef f icient at the movement, what is the point? I know the Olympic lif ts are usually the sacrif icial lamb f or this argument, but all lif ts can be equally responsible. It’s important to consider whether or not certain movements are contraindicated f or the particular athlete or his sport. What good does it do to have a quarterback bench pressing at any excessive volume or intensity if it will f uck up his throwing? It’s also important to consider how much time it’s taking to test these general measures. While it’s good f or the coach to test so that he knows whether or not his program is working and whether or not the athlete is staying motivated, testing can take away f rom the training of the athletes to get them better at their actual sport. Furthermore, some coaches keep pushing the weight during these tests. It’s important that you don’t live in the moment as the coach or let the athlete live in the moment because if an injury were to occur, you might be scanning the classif ieds in the near f uture. For sport coaches, it’s important to always remember the big picture—what will happen on game day. Many times coaches are unhappy with a particular drill, so they perf orm it over and over repeatedly, which may take away f rom more important aspects of the game. We had a coach who worked on our staf f a f ew years ago. His particular lust was f or ball drills that involved him whipping a f ootball at his receivers at point blank range while screaming insults at them. Of course, he taught them nothing about running routes and blocking or what they needed to do in the of f ense. Low and behold, they couldn’t actually do anything worthwhile, and his ball drills were so dif f erent f rom the game, the athletes couldn’t catch f or shit either. Another example is when coaches have a particular style of play in their heads but don’t have the players to do it. For instance, in f ootball, an of f ensive coordinator might want to run an option-based of f ense, but he only has drop back quarterbacks. Or in basketball, a coach may want to run a f ull-court press but doesn’t have the players to do it. Coaches need to adapt the plan to the team f or better game day results, not the other way around. While high-level coaches don’t necessarily deal with this, there are more limitations at the f undamental levels such as high school athletics. Finally, lust occurs when the sport coach leaves the starters in when a game is out of reach. If a team is up by a substantial margin, there isn’t any reason to leave starters in to keep running up the score. Instead, the athletes should be resting f or more important competitions in the f uture.
In ref erence to the athlete…
For the athlete, lust can occur in a f ew ways. It could be an inf atuation with certain measures that are advertised as being important. For this, I blame all the combine assholes who tell kids that they won’t get scholarships without an impressive showing at the Slapdick International Prep Combine held at a wonderf ul location like a parking lot of f the interstate. While having a f ast sprint time or impressive jump might help you get a couple looks, none of this matters if you aren’t actually skilled at the sport. Every time a college coach talks to our staf f about athletes, the f irst question he asks is about the actual game. We’re never asked about lif ts, sprint times, jumps, or medicine ball throws. T hen he wants to know about an athlete’s grades and character. T hen, maybe he’ll ask about lif ts or sprints. Case in point, coaches don’t want to invest thousands of dollars in scholarship money in someone who isn’t that good at the sport, is a lazy ass that won’t go to class, or is a dickhead who will make the program look bad. While being f ast, strong, or any other measure will def initely help, it isn’t the end all be all. It doesn’t matter if you can squat 900 pounds if you can’t block, make a tackle, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball, or do whatever else it may be in your sport. Most athletes get some inf ormation f rom either a f riend of a f riend or a recruiting website based on prof iles f illed out by the player or his parents about what he can do physically. All these numbers are suspect at best. Use your abilities to build toward getting better at your sport, and don’t ever take those numbers as the sole measurement of athletic ability.
T he other lust is over stats. While stats help in recruiting or getting noticed at the college level, don’t f orget that quality of opponent as well as character come into play here. Coaches don’t want self ish players who care only about their stats. T hey want players who are actually contributing and f ollowing directions. So don’t be the player who asks to stay in late in a blowout game to keep racking up the stats. While this may help hit certain marks, it’s also a good way to get injured. Recruiters and scouts could give two shits about the touchdown scored with 1:37 lef t in the f ourth quarter to make the score 70–17, but they will def initely notice if you blow an ACL trying to cut back on the same play.
Whether you’re a lif ter, coach, or athlete, it’s important to not get caught up in the moment. No one will necessarily care how strong you were in one training session, how crisp your drills looked in practice, or what you ran at some knock-of f combine. T here is a big dif f erence between the competitive lif ter/athlete and the guy who just throws weights around at his gym or works out just to be in shape. T he end goal or commitment should always be what all the training and practice build toward. While this may take some restraint in the short-term, in the long run, the bigger success will be much more meaningf ul.
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