Creative Commons License photo credit: Cronfeld

Achieving strength is in many fundamental ways the same as achieving anything else in life. There are certain qualities that are essential in the quest to become physically stronger. For example, when following a workout program persistence and consistency in terms of staying on track each and every day is a sure way to achieve your goals.

Try to make sudden big leaps and you’ll burn out or worse, get injured. Setting and following a workout program is a practice in and of itself. It develops the quality of persistence and consistent effort. Not only will you achieve your strength and fitness goals but you’ll develop invaluable qualities that will help you achieve all the other things you want in life.

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

– John D. Rockefeller

Often to begin with we tend to follow what others who have been successful have done. Modeling the success of others is a fantastic way to get started. However eventually we all hit a plateau of some sort. Be it in terms of strength gains, improving your health, building a business or some other pursuit.

To break through that plateau demands a courageous step out from under the shadow of “authorities” and those who have gone before to find what works for you according to your own unique situation. To be successful in strength and health you must learn about your own body and learn what works best for it.

So for example, scientific research, my blog and so forth represent the very beginning of the journey. Not the final destination. When it comes to your health, quite simply, anecdotal evidence (your own personal experience of what works best for you) trumps published research and the beliefs of “authorities” every time.

Finally, strength and fitness training is closely connected with mental strength. Self-discipline, being able to motivate yourself, and pure will developed by hard work can be a great source of confidence. Overcoming adversity and achieving goals in one aspect of life has fantastic carryover into many other aspects of life. It develops the confidence to overcome obstacles, whatever they may be.

The Deadlift
I’ve been talking a lot about the deadlift recently as part of The Balanced Existence Challenge. I’m using the workout from Pavel’s Power to the People! which calls for a very short deadlift session of 2 sets of 5 reps, five days a week, Monday to Friday. After the first set of five reps you enjoy a rest of 3 – 5 minutes, drop the weight down by 10% and then complete the second set of five reps at the lower weight.

This week was just the second full week of following this program. I started out on Monday the week before with a light 90kg (198lbs) at a body weight of 80kg (176lbs). It had been a long time since I’d deadlifted. Building a safe lifting grove with proper technique is very important if one wants to enjoy the rewards of persistent strength training. Get injured and all one’s effort can come to nothing.

Today, being the Friday of the second week of following Pavel’s Power to the People! program I deadlifted 115kg (253lbs) for five reps and then 100kg (220lbs) for 5 reps. My short term goal is to hit 120kg (264lbs) x 5 by Friday next week. My longer term goals are to deadlift 140kg (308lbs) x 5 and to lift twice my body weight (160kg or 352lbs) for 1 rep.

For those interested, here is an overview of safe and effective conventional deadlift technique:

  1. Stand upright before the barbell and adjust your foot position.
  2. Fold over without rounding your back and grip the bar with the alternate grip, one palm facing forward and the other back. Secure your grip, don’t hurry, your grip must be 100%. The bar should be touching your legs now.
  3. Now go into your starting position and start to building up tension. Breathe in a slow and concentrated manner.
  4. Lock your arms, tense your triceps, contract your shoulder blades, lift your glutes slightly upward, than lower your butt slowly
  5. Take a deep breath and hold it. Pull your head back and look up at the ceiling for the duration of the lift.
  6. Push your feet into the floor, tense your abs, and start to pull. The bar is always touching your legs.
  7. Your back must always held be in an arched position. The lower back works only statically; the pulling strength comes from the hips, glutes, and the legs.
  8. Pull hard and with determination. When bar is 4 inches below your knees, your lower back muscles must contract forcefully to pull the bar to the mid thigh.
  9. Now shift your pelvis forward, pull your shoulders back, and lock your knees in one smooth movement. The knees and hips must lock out at the same time. This is very important!

Within the next couple of days I’ll be putting up some photos so you can check out my progress so far. I’ve not done any cardio since well before I started this program. I’ve focused completely on lifting heavier and heavier with the aim of becoming much stronger without gaining weight. I think you’ll find the results interesting and a good demonstration of why diet is most important when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Make sure you subscribe!

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