This Sunday marked exactly one year to the day since I started strength training with a purpose. That sounds odd, I know. Surely the purpose of strength training is always strength?
Well yes, but Guildspeople don’t really train uni-directionally or for specific purposes. We cultivate an ambient level of power, such that we can perform feats as and when the need/desire arises.
Dash 22km to hitch a ride before sunset? Fine..
Whimsically climb the highest mountain in Spain? Fine..
Conquer the most brutal obstacle course in mid-winter whilst head to toe in cotton? Fine.
Sign up for and crush competition at the Superhuman Games with two broken feet? Fine.
Drink all the beer in a Polish mountain hostel? Fine.
Out-lift any and all challengers? Fine.
Sing for your dinner? Fine.
Fight for your dinner? Also fine.
These activities are not part of a structured training programme; they are side effects of being an agent of chaos in what is generally considered to be a predictable world. For this reason, my lifelong strength training has always been somewhat whimsical. See something heavy, heft it – hurl it – haul it, whatever. Thus, I live.
Yet this time last year I decided to see what would happen if I actually set my mind (and body) to getting strong. Not at the expense of everything else, mind you. Strength is fun, but so is being able to tie your shoelaces, leap a charging moose, and deliver a solid spin kick after three and a half bottles of mead.
So I created a rough plan (very, very rough) and stuck to it (to the best of my mercurial ability) for an entire year, tracking my progress the entire time. Obviously I fucked it up about a jillion times in the process, but I somehow still managed to perform exactly 156 strength workouts in 52 weeks, which works out at an average of bang on 3 per week.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Victory THRUST!
So yeah I made progress. My numbers have improved, as you’d expect from doing something three times a week for a year. But the numbers are sort of lame: I’m impressed when people can heft huge weights, but the difference between 200kg and 250kg isn’t exactly exciting.
What is exciting (for me) is the application of strength, as at England’s Strongest Man Under 80kg back in June and at Champion Strength Gym’s Strongman contest this Sunday:
Both occasions gave me the opportunity to test and stretch my strength in ‘meaningful’ ways – head to head with other people, either the same size as me (at England’s) or considerably bigger than me (at Champion’s).
I must be doing something right, because I’m happy to say I came out on top in both. NOW the trick is getting back to training after about two months of ‘peaking’ (reducing my training to ensure I’m not too fatigued to compete effectively).
So. One year down, 80 or so left.
COME AT ME, GAINZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!