Written by: Kevin Cann
This article is not going to be one that beats up on the millenials. In fact, according to Wikipedia the millenials start with people born in 1981 and I was born in 1983. This makes me a millennial. I do feel there are some major differences between those of us born in the early 80s and those of us that were born in the early 2000s.
When we were growing up, we were the first generation to experience certain jumps in technological advances. I remember a time when cordless landlines were “the shit”, and the first cellular phones were called “car phones” because they were just that. They were a giant phone in a bag that worked through your cigarette lighter in your car. That is another thing I remember, there were cigarette lighters in everyone’s cars.
I went through college without a cell phone or a Facebook account. College was my first non-dialup internet experience, and it was mind-blowing. Now, my 9 year old has her own iTouch and has access to the internet at her fingertips. This immediate access to information has led to quite a few changes in our society.
We now live in a society where instant gratification is at our fingertips. This sets a standard in our lives and what we expect. One day this generation enters the workforce and they find that they do not get the same instant gratification from their employment that they expected, and things become very difficult moving forward.
I have known quite a few people in their early 20s that quit entry level jobs because they felt that they were not “making a difference.” Little do they understand that in order to make a difference you need to put your time in and learn the ins and outs of your field. Going to school did nothing more than teach you that you are good at taking tests.
Putting in the time and effort in things seems to have gone away. This is why I feel everyone should be required to powerlift. There is nothing subjective about lifting weights. You will go into the gym on day 1 and be capable of lifting X weight, and if you put in the time and effort into your training, nutrition, and sleep you will be able to lift more than X later on.
Training will teach you a lot about yourself. You will be sore and tired at times. There will be times that you absolutely do not feel like training. That is fine if you do not feel like training. You will just not get as strong as you could have if you skip days in the gym, and the results will show on the platform.
You will not always succeed. The weight does not give out participation trophies. This sport will teach you how to fall off the horse while the horse stomps on your ego, and how to climb back on. Powerlifting is unlike any other sport I have ever participated in, in my life.
You can trick yourself into thinking that you are good in any sport. However, that is not the case with this one. You are only as good as the weight on the bar. There is no fooling anyone. It is as black and white as that.
This sport will teach you patience. You need to embrace the process and understand that it is more a marathon than a sprint when it comes to getting strong. You can get stronger pretty quickly, but to be strong takes time. If you try to rush the process you will fail your lifts and risk getting injured.
I just completed my 3rd powerlifting meet at the USAPL Worcester Open in Massachusetts on January 15, 2017. I started my journey in this sport in July of 2015 and competed for the first time in October of 2015. This was after playing college soccer and years of training in mixed martial arts. I love competing. I love the pressure and nervous energy of meet day.
There is another lesson that powerlifting can teach you. It teaches you how to control your emotions. It teaches you how to handle the nerves of lifting in front of judges (although at times I think the internet takes care of this), and in front of a crowd. It teaches you when to release your aggression and when to relax.
At this meet I hit some personal bests. I had hit 184kg in training in the squat, but my coach, Boris Sheiko, kept my squat attempts conservative. I went 9 for 9 overall, without even receiving one single red light, and hit a 180kg squat, 135kg bench, and 235kg deadlift at a bodyweight of 96kg.
These numbers are by no means impressive when compared to the elite and even the intermediate lifters in my weight class. However, since October of 2015 I have put 41kg on my squat, 10kg on my bench, and 26kg on my deadlift. That is an increase in my total of 169.4lbs.
That increase did not come easy. I have worked with Sheiko since October of 2015. If you know anything about Sheiko, he is big on volume. The training was very difficult, both psychologically and physically. I loved the challenge of the program and how it pushed me to be stronger in both areas.
I had tests that went really poorly in this time period. Tests where I failed to hit my previous bests. On one such occasion I was testing my deadlift two days before my wedding in July of 2016. I missed the lift because it rotated out away from me and I got a spasm so bad in my back that I could barely walk, not to even mention standing up straight.
I took one week off for my honeymoon and came back to training. I did what I was capable of and I let pain be my guide. Learning what you can train through and what you absolutely can’t train through is essential in any competitive sport. I had no radiating pain so I decided to train. I recovered from the spasm and a sprained SI joint very quickly. Within two weeks I was back to hitting my training numbers. Most PTs will probably cringe reading this, but not babying the injury and loading the tissue probably allowed me to heal faster than some unloaded breathing drills.
Through all of those poor tests I had to pick myself back up, brush myself off, and continue to train. Finally, the test right before this meet went extremely well and my confidence was very high going into this meet. Halfway through my novice years in this sport and I have hit an over 400lb squat, 300lb bench with a pause, and well over a 500lb deadlift.
Back in October of 2015 these numbers seemed so far away. All I wanted was a 400lb squat, 300lb bench, and 500lb deadlift back then. However, there was no instant gratification. There was over a year of working my ass off, training when I was sore and tired, continuing to train after poor tests, and just trusting the process and embracing it.
This couldn’t be done without my great support system at TPS. The fact that I had to work hard for these numbers made these lifts gratifying. However, the gratification quickly comes and goes and it is on to the next numbers. There was no instant gratification, but the gratification was instant.
For those reading this that are looking for something to make them stronger and teach them some life lessons along the way, I encourage you to find a good coach and pickup a barbell. Nothing beats the reward of some hard work. Step outside of your comfort zone and instant gratification, you will not be sorry.