Several years back, before I got into coaching, my roots were firmly planted in the sport of Powerlifting. I experienced a good amount of success during that time of my life. Although I wanted to be as strong as humanly possible, illegal drug use was not an option for me. Instead I took the road less traveled in relation to others associated with the sport.
The Road Less Traveled
The road I took was educating myself through exhaustive research for the best in training material. I would literally tear into anything that offered the possibility of elevating my natural abilities. It wasn't all that uncommon for me to spend a Friday or Saturday night reading training literature.
I ate, slept, and lived to know more than the next guy so I could gain an advantage if the opportunity arised. Not to mention, I already knew I wanted to be involved in the strength and conditioning profession.
It's common knowledge that in the beginning most will experience astounding results from training, no matter what protocol they use. Plateaus or training ruts will rear their ugly head from time to time when you do hit the higher levels of fitness.
When a plateau strikes unfortunately they usually cling to you like some God-awful funk that cannot be shaken. You hit a wall. As one progresses to higher levels of advanced training, the little details cannot be overlooked and you need to make sure your plan of attack is sound.
Training plateaus used to drive me nuts, and they do even to this day. I can't stand it when you feel like you are doing everything right yet progress ceases. There has been many times where I could not get a particular lift to improve to save my life. The frustration of being in a standstill always motivated me to find an answer to my problem.
Fellow lifters would suggest the use of banned substances. They swore by them and would tell me of the many great things that it had done for their lifts. Well, you know what? I wasn't going to do them! Were there ever times I would ponder the thought of possibly trying them? Sure! Would it have been worth the risks to my long-term health? No!
Besides, in the gym in which I trained teenagers would admire my strength and size. I would be the one they would ask if they had a question about getting stronger or faster. I was living proof that great levels of strength could be attained naturally. I served was a role model and am to this day to my student athletes at the school I work.
I'm proud of the fact they feel comfortable in approaching me. I can look any athlete I train in the eye and tell him/her with proper training you can accomplish more than you could have ever dreamed of-if they are motivated and willing to pay the price.
I'll share something with you all. Hopefully this will not bore you to death. Adolescents are impressionable and a lot of times will hang on every word you say. It stays with them and comments or remarks can be positive and have a beneficial effect or they can be just the opposite. When I was 18-years old, I was told two things that would change my life forever:
- I was told by a gym manager that I would never bench press 500 pounds drug-free. He said it was simply impossible. At the time I weighed about 175 pounds and was throwing up 230 pounds.
- The other comment was from a counselor who shared his opinion that I wasn't cut out for college. Instead of offering words of encouragement he actually told me my grades were simply not good enough, and it didn't appear to him that I was the college type. He said it would be something I would just have to accept because some people just don't have what it takes.
Those two statements were the two most motivating things in my life. No one was going to tell me I couldn't do something. I set out each day to prove them wrong. I was simply going to find a way to prove them wrong or I was going to die trying. It took me 7 years to get through college with the juggling of working a job and raising a child.
When it was all said and done I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in the College of Education and earned National Honor Society Honors. Going after 500 pounds on the bench about killed me but was achieved after 9 years weighing 285 pounds. I was as wide as the broad side of a barn, but hey I was drug-free!
To The Point
Okay, it sounds like a cool story, but where in the heck are you getting at with this article? Last time I checked this is about coaching athletes and training for sport not the story of my life.
No matter what motivates you sometimes you can be so driven you will stop at nothing to accomplish a goal under your terms. During the course of my assault on 500, I stumbled on to an unbelievable wealth of information that I'd never ever been exposed to and I had been involved in athletics my whole life.
In my desire to excel drug-free I had to tear through an exhaustive amount of journals, books, and seek out advice of those more knowledgeable than myself. The information out there was foreign to me.
The reason it was foreign is because the training journals I was reading over were translated from Russian coaching manuals. They were Russian-based training protocols and they were extremely rare and hard to come by. I was taken back by the quality of information found in those texts. The Soviet Union poured so much money into sports research over the last 40-50 years they truly elevated themselves into the stratosphere in terms of knowledge and know-how when it came to athletic excellence.
Out In Front
Without a doubt, they were and still are in some aspects light years ahead of the West when it comes to the long-term development of athletes. Most especially in sports that require explosive power and speed. Their primary intention was to prove to the world that Communism was a superior government and athletics was one of the ways they would express that belief. The Olympic Games and World Track & Field Championships were their staging grounds.
The one area of their expertise I would like to concentrate on is the use of Soviet Restoration Techniques and beliefs. Many of their ideas and techniques helped me tremendously in my assault to reach a 500-pound bench and other training goals I have had for myself over the years. These methods were used extensively by their athletes to speed up the recovery process and allow for harder more frequent bouts of training and prevent injuries - in turn lengthening careers. It gave me a viable option to steroids and when these methods are used properly they can mimic the effects in terms of recovery and work capacity.
The Renegade Way
For those who follow Renegade Training, you know how hard we work and the crazy amount of volume we put our athletes through. If you cannot recover and heal your body from training there's a problem. There are built-in plans to help accelerate during the Renegade workouts too. This all ties into GPP and active means of restoration. This series should work extremely well running alongside weighted GPP.
Education = Improvement
Simply put, if the methods I discussed here in the future are used consistently, you'll be strides ahead of most of your competitors, who may have never been introduced to them. I'm surprised at how little research has been done in the field of restoration. It is a potential gold mine, and I would have never found it when I did if it wasn't for the fact that someone doubted my abilities. And in the process of improving myself physically, it changed me as an overall person and it carried over into other areas of my life.
I know this series will help a lot of people. For those who are in high school or coach high school sports, why not try the road less traveled. Find something that lights a fire inside you and use it to motivate yourself to new heights and hopefully the self-improvement will spread to other facets of your life like it did for me.
Not to mention, the fact you are reading this article on this website speaks volumes about how important it is for you to be the best coach or athlete YOU can be. And if we can help you achieve that, we are doing our job.