Professional athletes and bodybuilders have extremely specific goals – performing well in competitions, beating their own or world records, etc. But if you’re someone who doesn’t give a damn what you lift as long as you’re able to play football with your kids or look good for the person you love, keeping up a hard workout pace isn’t as necessary as it used to be a few years ago.
When Do People Start Obsessing About Maximum Strength?
People usually start obsessing about strength between the ages of 16 and 24, when testosterone starts doing its thing. They just want to be strong and don’t care about being athletic. This is all right to an extent, because strength is the basis for getting bigger, faster, and more athletic. However, in order to maximize muscular development and eventually have a great body, the approach should be more balanced. Having tons of workout gear and using all the supplements available won’t make you more athletic. It will probably boost your ego and make you feel like that shredded guy from a protein shake commercial, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss.
What about the flexibility and functionality of your body? Ok, you can deadlift, squat, and bench heavy, but on the other hand you may have trouble jumping in a coordinated manner or performing a one-foot stand without losing balance.
So, What Are You Training for?
Do you avoid playing a game of pick-up basketball or football with your friends because it will interfere with your workout the next day? What older, experienced athletes, lifters and coaches will tell you is that maximizing your strength isn’t the only thing out there. If you plan to do this for a long time, you’ll need to change your way of thinking.
Perhaps you started training some time ago for completely different reasons, had certain goals that aren’t that important today. Maybe you found heavy training to be therapeutic before, but find other things more important now, such as building your career, playing sports with your friends, or going hiking with your spouse.
If you feel that things aren’t what they used to be, then it’s the right time to ask yourself – what am I training for? It’s time to rework your goals and training preferences, and to open up to all the different training variables. What are you getting from your training and is that what you really want?
Will an athlete be better if he adds 50 pounds to his squat or bench? You have pursued maximum strength above all, but did you lose relative strength or gain mass? It is harder for an athlete to change direction or decelerate due to additional mass, right? Coaches do value maximum strength in training, but to a certain extent. We all have our physical limitations, so constantly chasing strength simply means a bad allocation of workout resources. As for training supplements, filling up with proteins, carbs, creatine, steroids and other chemicals will most certainly do you more harm than good. Supplements are a great addition to workouts, but only when you know what and how to consume. For example, proteins like optimum nutrition gold standard whey are popular, but also tested safe to be used as pre- or post-workout supplementation. Performance enhancing drugs such as steroids have numerous negative side-effects like developing dependence, psychiatric disorders (depression or aggressive behavior), heart problems, infertility, impotence, and many other health issues.
Other Things in Life
If you’re not a competitive athlete and want to do other things in life, then you certainly should be able to do them. Once you’re in the playing field of the real world, it doesn’t matter what amount of weight you can lift without your health. Also, when you’re younger, your body can handle much heavier work. Take a turn and focus to train other qualities, reduce the number of your heavy days, and drop your training to 80-90% of what you max.
You should know that you can get more from less. Learn to auto-regulate, even though you track your workouts and have a plan. If you woke up feeling fantastic, then play your favorite workout music playlist and train like there’s no tomorrow. On the other hand, don’t go to the extreme, ditching the gym completely or going as heavy as you can, but warm-up first and see how things are going.