Improvise Adapt and Overcome

Recently my training has been as intermittent as my disease. Any time I’ve written out a phenomenal plan with a thorough warm up, perfect exercise selection, and targeted mobility my body always has a different plan. After a few days of that the mounting frustration is enough to make you throw your hands up and take up competitive knitting. I’m unsure whether my body would allow that either. Thankfully I found a solution to my conundrum. Instead of focusing on the micro details of each day, I took a step back and chose a select few principles to adhere to. This allowed me to go in to train and feel my way through what exercises would be the most beneficial. 

First priority is you’ve got to determine what you are trying to do in the first place! What is the top of your mountain? For me it’s weightlifting (snatch and clean and jerk). Both involve pulling, squatting and an isometric hold over head but for simplicity we will just say pressing. And that was principle #1: pull, squat and press every day. I don’t need specific sets and rep schemes because I don’t know where my body will be in terms of inflammation or recovery day to day. Even if it was a squat to a box four inches below my ass, a pull from blocks and a static hold over head, the day is a plus because I touched a bar and that’s better than the alternative.

Because I can’t eat a lot of starchy carbs, I’m losing quite a bit of weight and I am not as strong as I was a couple weight classes ago. With this in mind principle #2 and #3 take this undesirable occurrence and find a way to capitalize.

Principle #2: a lot of horsepower without adequate handling is a sure way to get in a wreck. Instead of pushing max weight, max speed, max everything, the goal was now to build up precision and accuracy in my lifts and balance in my musculature. This means titrating volume in the competition lifts like doing 10 sets of singles at a specific percentage or doing bottoms up kettle bell presses. Slowly pushing the numbers in these exercises up will yield long term gains. Patience is key.

Principle #3 is not training related but very important in the sport of weightlifting: maximize body composition. When I started this eclectic training block I weighed 205 and was 18% body fat. Not a great place to be if you aren’t moving a lot of weight. So far I have managed to shed 25 pounds of weight. Most of that has been water but certainly a substantial amount of fat and some muscle. Besides the aesthetic side effects it has helped decrease the arthritic inflammation in my hips and spine. This goes back to principle #1 and slowly but surely the train moves along the tracks toward recovery.

When times get crazy sometimes the best thing to do is simplify. Keep the list short and the focus up. Strength is all about the long game. Train hard, recover harder and have fun. The specter of death is always right by our side whether we acknowledge it or not. Live accordingly.