3/14/2010 7:34:05 PM -
The End of The Unlikely Powerlifter- Retiring from Powerlifting
To most of you, this will probably come as a surprise, as I haven't discussed it with many people. This whole thing may come out a bit jumbled, but I hope it makes sense.
My time as a competitive powerlifter has officially come to an end. Whether or not I pick it up again in the future is really something that I can't say, but I tend to think that it would be unlikely.
As with any big life decision, the reasons are many. Those of you who read my log regularly probably remember that I had recently decided to give up the squat and bench and to compete exclusively in the deadlift. I think this unconsciously served as the beginning of the end.
My main limiting factor in powerlifting (within my control) has always been being undersized. Because I have a great love for acting and comedy and I want to allow it to move forward, I've had to stay somewhere within "normal guy" range in regards to my size and bodyweight. Being 5'10 and competing in the 181lb class is not exactly ideal for having a good squat or bench. Due to my biomechanical leverages, I've been able to build a pretty decent deadlift, but I still remain to thin to reach my full potential at 181 or 198.
With several of my best friends recently having some very exciting developments in their acting careers, it reminded me of how much I truly love the art, but how much I've been slighting my potential and growth in this realm in exchange for my development as a lifter. Not only have a taken focus from acting, but I feel that, my focus on competition and my own training has been holding back my personal training business as well.
Don't get me wrong, my experiences in powerlifting have taught me some amazing life lessons and has given me a unique outlook on training my clients. But, I also feel that I've gotten to the point where my increased knowledge in this realm will most likely not further my clients' progress. I don't train any competitive powerlifters, and learning how to raise my deadlift from 550lb to 560lb over 3 months will have very limited application to most of my clients' goals.
During my four years of training for powerlifting, it has played an enormous role in my life. It honestly demanded more of my mental focus than anything else in this period, even when I was outside of the gym. I remember being in acting classes in college thinking about my next training cycle and I opted to not take place in any theater productions (despite being a theater major) because I was worried that it would interfere with my training and eating schedule. Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but that's how I operate. I suppose it's not all that different from Dave's "Blast and Dust" model.
That brings me to the new direction of my training. There are many areas of my physical development that have been neglected for the last few years due to efforts to increase the competitive squat, bench and deadlift. Unilateral upper body work, unilateral lower body work, overhead work, shouler-girdle stability, energy systems training and explosiveness have all taken a back seat. I have torn labrums in both shoulders, and whether or not the barbell bench has been partly to blame is not something that I can be sure of. But, taking a break from it in favor of more stability exercises will probably help keep me more protected in the future. I'll work with different squat variations that don't necessarily include the competition-form back squat and I'll probably transition into some more trap-bar deadlifting and other variations that keep me out of lumbar flexion. My lifting sessions will become more of a combination of metabolic and strength work than purely strength.
There is no doubt that powerlifting tends to break people down in the long run. Any sport will do this if you stay in it long enough and push it hard enough. It's simply a matter of whether or not the risk is worth the reward. One of the things that I love about powerlifting is that despite all the bullshit politics over federations and gear usage, it's truly a pure sport. Noone goes into powerlifting for the money, fame, or because it will get you laid. Anyone who is a part of it is truly in love with the sport and the quest to get stronger.
For the last few years, it was well worth the risk to me. Rather than giving up powerlifting, I considered trying to take a few steps back and simply not competing, but still training the lifts to try and maintain them. However, I know myself, and I know that seeing my lifts slowly travel backwards would defeat the purpose of being able to devote more attention to other areas of my life. It would undoubtedly eat me up inside and consume me. Sometimes, the only way out of a relationship is time apart. Yes, that sounds a bit fruity since we're talking about lifting heavy shit, but I think it's true. If you and your girlfriend of four years break up, sometimes it's best just to take some time off from one another rather than seeing each other a few times a week instead of every day. Slowly backing off just won't let you move on with your life.
As a result, my new outlook on training will be seeking more "well-rounded" development. I know that I won't be as strong in the powerlifts, but I'll also end up being a lot stronger in some of my many neglected areas of physical development. Right now, there are some remedial things that I really suck at, and bringing them up can't be a bad thing.
My love of lifting as a whole hasn't gone anywhere, and I'm sure that it never will. I first stepped into the gym when I was 14 years old, and since then my experiences there have taught me so many lessons that have carried over to every area of my life. It taught me to not worry about what everyone else and their rate of progress but to focus on myself, that I was the only one responsible for my outcome, that dedicated education and aggressive application of that knowledge will always result in success, and that no situation is permanent...you can change anything and everything if you want.
A big reason for this departure from powerlifting is to throw me outside of my comfort zone. For years, powerlifting was one of the biggest parts of how I defined myself, and by stepping away from this, I'll leave myself no choice but to pick up the slack in the other areas of my life that have been lagging behind. My ultimate potential as a competitive powerlifter is much less than as an actor, comedian, and trainer/business owner. I think I owe it to myself to explore the other areas a bit more.
Tate and I discussed this over email and he thinks that my decision makes sense. While I will no longer have a powerlifting training log on the site, I will remain a member of the Q&A staff to answer questions, and will occasionally post training and other videos. If people want to see me doing squats on swiss balls while curling pink dumbells and waving the Body Blade, then I will post some videos. Just kidding...I would never do the Body Blade AND the pink dumbells in the same workout.
Going back, I remember how unbelievably excited I was to first have a log up on this site. There are many things that I've done in the last year and a half or two years that I really couldn't have imagined myself doing. I have to thank everyone who helped me do those things, and who believed in and reminded me of my abilities. I have the tendency to doubt myself in many ways, and as a result, I adopted the policy that I would take as truth, the outlook that the people I respected had of me. Since that sentence was a complete clusterfuck, I will try to explain. Over the last year or so, if I came across a situation where I didn't believe that I could do something, but someone that I trusted thought I could, I would take it as truth that I could do it. Basically, I stopped listening to the self-doubt in my own head, and trusted those who I respected. (Fuck, that took way too much to explain) I mention this because there mere thought of applying for a sponsorship and then mentioning it to Dave in person wouldn't have come about if I hadn't stepped outside myself and just taken the chance. There's that cliche quote, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I would advise taking a second to think about that...it's a really powerful thought.
I'd like to thank Dave for giving me the chance to be a part of the EFS staff and to represent this great company, the Angry Coach for vouching for my abilities (that's all I'll say, he doesn't like it when things get too emotional), Eric Cressey for first introducing me to the sport of powerlifting and teaching me an unbelievable amount about training business and many other things, Jim Wendler for his guidance and sense of humor, Nate Green for setting the bar high in life and business for young punks like myself, Joe Dowdell for close to ten year of guidance as a lifter and trainer, Shelby Starnes for his expertise and awesome commitment to myself and our mutual clients, Matt Gary for his friendship and passion to help others excel, Dave Bates and Eric Talmant for opening my eyes to new ways of training, Hartley Sawyer for great memories in the gym and out over the years, as well as every other training partner that I've had for days, weeks, months, or years. I've met so many awesome people at meets and in gyms, and this is a huge part of what makes this sport so great. I can't leave out the readers...I owe a huge thanks to all of you who read my log, watched my videos, showed your support and stayed with me as I've been a part of this site. These "thank you's" are all specific to powerlifting and my work with EFS, and it's obviously an incomplete list in regards to my training and life as a whole. This isn't my obituary, after all.
I'd like to leave off with this video that Dave posted just the other day. Perhaps this is strange to say, but this really put my mind to rest when I doubted my decision to leave powerlifting. If you love something, you need to give it everything you have, not go at it half-assed because you're afraid that it might not work.
Feel free to write in to me here or get in contact with me through my website; www.MattMcGTraining.com
The Angry Coach uses ladies' de-ouderint., Matt McGorry
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