by Eric Todd
It has been quite obvious that a number of you on here are very interested in the science behind weight training. I tried to go down that road once. I had been competing a few years, won some meets, won a strongman nationals and placed well in others, and had won my pro card in strongman. I heard other guys who would talk about the science behind what we were doing. I began to think that if I was more knowledgeable in this arena, it may lend itself to further success. So I delved in. I ordered some books on programming, read some online articles about the science between diet and nutrition, and so on and so forth. It was about 10 minutes into this venture that I realized I may better enjoy myself (and understand what I am doing) if I were to go watch the grass grow or possibly find a recently painted wall somewhere that I could enjoy watching dry. I guess it is for some, but not for everybody. As luck would have it, I have surrounded myself with some very knowledgeable people in that area that I can go to if I have a question. I just bring a translator along to decipher what they are saying.
No, what fascinates me the most about strength training/competition is the psychology involved. I love the concept of man against immoveable object. I love facing the worthy adversary and conquering it with a successful lift, or coming back to defeat the iron a different day. Falling down, but coming back again, and again, and again. Even if George Kennedy is standing over you telling you “Stay down. You’re beat.”
My way at looking at weightlifting, strongman (or any physical conquest for that matter) is a rather primordial one. When attacking a top end or PR type weight, I am often able to go inside my head, and establish a fight or flight frame of mind, if only for a moment or two. Shoot, there have been times when I came back out of my head to attack the iron, I found I had tears in my eyes and a rage in my heart. That heap of scrap didn’t stand a chance! When I set myself up for a heavy lift I sell my soul to the devil. Did the same thing when stepping on a wrestling mat, a football field, or preparing to run a 400m dash. I throw everything I have into it, and when it is said and done, I will have won or I would have lost, but there would be no doubt either way. No excuses. Now for the disclaimer. This methodology has often left me with injury, and has left me a crippled, hobbled old man at 38. But I wouldn’t do it any other way.
I will have to say, that seeing a big lift gets me going. But what really jacks me up, almost to the point of swinging at the fences my adrenaline is running so, has nothing to do with the amount of weight moved. It is when you see somebody who sells themselves out on a lift. One of those deadlifts that takes 15 second to complete. Or the yoke walk that was so slow and arduous that the individual never had a chance of a decent placing, but they never set it down, never gave up on it, all the way to the end. That kind of effort is a real inspiration. Where it is cool to see someone make a lift look easy, what really shows the do or die attitude I am talking about is when the lift is not easy, as a matter of fact, there are a few times when there is grave doubt about the lifter completing it. But they dig in, they grind it out. They exhaust themselves physically. And most importantly, they exhaust themselves mentally.
Now, this article was not written in an effort to make me seem like a bad ass. It is just an effort to explain the mentality that has been engrained in me through where I came from. Everything you got, you earned, and there was no place for excuses. If you were not tough, you were going to get tough. Nor is it in an effort to slam those who enjoy the science behind it. I know it has its place, and I seek help from those smarter than me all the time. My point is that science does not have an answer for everything. And sometimes when George Kennedy is standing above you, you have to get up one more time, and reply “You’re gonna have to kill me.”