As we ease into the 2nd week of 2018, I contemplate my upcoming workout. Rotator cuff issues mean that I still can’t low or high bar squat so my workout today will feature safety bar box squats and the Wenning belt squat station for a reasonable amount of weight and volume as well as working up to some heavy triples on bench. On the bright side of the injury report, my hamstring seems to healed to an extent that I can start easing into some more meaningful lower body training. 2 days ago I did my first deadlift training in 7 weeks for light to light/medium weight as the objective was to see how the hamstring felt and above all concentrate on form, form and more form. I did snatch grip DLs, conventional DLs and then high rack pulls and barbell shrugs with a bit more weight. I also did glute ham raises and some farmers carries. The surprising result is that my legs feel fine (perhaps because I have been training them continuously with light weights and/or body weight) but my upper back and traps are feeling it. My rotator cuff injury means that a lot of back/shoulder exercises are out of the question for now which makes exercise selection a bit of a challenge.
Two simultaneous injuries suck, but powerlifting is life so off I go to the powerlifting gym. It’s a bit of a hike from my house but I will go there today primarily because it has the specialized bars and stations I need to do the exercises listed above. Also, we can blast music at improbable volumes and use healthy amounts of chalk all in a pleasantly mirror free environment. The best things about this gym, though, are the people and overall vibe. It’s overwhelmingly positive (much of this is thanks to M, the gym’s inimitable owner and head coach) and it’s a blast to be surrounded by motivated, like-minded people. It’s sort of like Cheers, everybody knows your name.
As I’ve said in previous posts, I still go to a commercial gym about half the time as it’s close where I live and work and therefore convenient. One of my team-mates recently told that she avoids this (commercial) gym like the plague because, even though it’s very well equipped, because it’s awash in negativity and gym haters. She’s not wrong. Many commercial gyms, and this place is no exception, have the social dynamics of a middle school playground – cliques, rampant gossip, dirty looks, the works.
In a weird way I enjoy the dysfunctional ambiance which is useful as I’m obliged to train there so often. It’s a dose of Yang to balance out the Yin of the other gym. There are a lot of type A personalities and some inflated senses of entitlement, both in the locker room and out on the floor. It’s a struggle to stay Zen sometimes. I find that it’s almost a form of moving meditation as I try to block out the extraneous foolishness and focus on training. I just navigate around the gym in my ratty t-shirt, Chuck Taylors and track suit bottoms with the tell-tale heavy-duty wrist-wraps and chalk bag in my pockets. (Chalk is sort of frowned on but to the gym’s credit, they haven’t hassled me about it.). And, yeah, there are the odd fun moments when you quietly install yourself on a bench next to a bench being used by some Instagramming, lycra clad bros and, slowly but surely, use their 1RM for paused-rep triples.
A certain amount of stress is required as a catalyst for growth. This is the underlying principle of strength training, of course, as well as one of life’s greater truths. As the French say, to make great wine the grapes must suffer. As a man, you will not meet quality women or do anything else of note if you fear rejection. You have to really embrace rejection or failure before you can see that it’s your fear, and not failure itself, that is holding you back. Fear is the mind-killer, the gains-killer and the get me some of that fine booty-killer.
So, boo-hoo, I’ve got 2 simultaneous injuries that are the direct result of me having enough time and resources to train in an activity I really enjoy and – gasp – I sometimes have to do such training in a big well equipped gym surrounded by the terminally shallow. First world problems, to say the least. If confronting your fears is important, so is gratitude.