Every time I hear lifters saying how hardcore they are, I just have to laugh. I never thought that I’d be the old dinosaur talking about the good old days, but here I am and I’m proud to tell about the good old times. See, lifting in the 1970s and 1980s was not really what most people think today. The equipment was rudimentary; the training always bordered on overtraining. But the attitude? The attitude was pure attitude.
Some of my favorite stories involve a crew of dedicated lifters who were at the gym for one reason and one reason only–to train. We trained in the first Skiba’s Gym, affectionately called “The Hole”. We had many, many great workouts here. One of my most memorable workouts involved training with some of my best partners despite two feet of snow, no electricity, and only a pot belly stove to light the squat rack and bench press. Not knowing how to properly work a woodburning stove, there was more smoke in the gym than going out the smoke stack.
We all still laugh about those times, but fun aside, we all shared one common passion: training to extremes. I’m talking about using extreme weights, extreme commitment, and extreme progress that bonded us together in unbreakable ways.
So what’s your crew like? Do you train with fervor or do you simply go through the motions? Do you go to sleep the night before thinking about/dreaming of your next day’s training? Will your training partners call you out when you’re sandbagging it?
Whether your version of hardcore is 1977 or 2010, one thing is clear. Workouts should be just that: WORK out. I suggest you find an environment and crew that sets that standard. Remember, each of us has had a place where our workouts were the most productive. Find a way to create that optimal training environment–both in terms of setup and atmosphere. Surround yourself with workout partners who share your dream. Only then will you make the kind of progress that you will be proud of, one that will keep the fire burning for a lifetime, rather than a flicker and eventual smother.
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