Speaking Truth to Power

I know that golf is supposed to be the sport most metaphorically applicable to life. But I’d like to mention this bit of insight that came from my coach of youth soccer: A ball rolling slowly towards the goal has a much greater chance of scoring than a fast wild shot that is off the mark. This wisdom is clearly applicable to something like financial planning, and also to the gym.

I used to deadlift extremely heavy – my best sets were 335 lbs for six reps, with no belt on. I’m also proud to say that my form was perfect. However, the only way I could get out of a car for one week following was to open the door and roll out onto the ground.

Today, as I watched an average-sized guy load up a barbell with four plates on a side, my amusement was tempered by empathy.

For a regular guy, a 405 lb deadlift is preposterous. To be sure, I’d never before seen a person deadlift with a spotter, getting pulled upright at the top of each rep. I did, however, recognize the noise this guy made bouncing his barbell as a grocery cart being pushed down the stairs. Regardless, when this fellow added another 25 lb plate between sets, I didn’t even bother to continue watching. I just turned away and waited for the sound of splintering low back ligaments.

Nowadays, I do my sets of deadlifts at about 225 lbs for eight or nine reps. I’m no longer the man to call to lift a car off some unfortunate soul, but I’m also not missing bunches of workouts due to a wrecked low back.  I figure it’s better to be at the gym making slow but regular progress, than to engage in one fast wild workout and spend the next several days in bed.

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  1. Hey man. I used to lift insane amounts of weight and would be hurting for so many days afterward it totally sucked.

    I agree slow and stead wins the race. I guess not if you’re a girl and want to lose 10lbs by the weekend or something crazy like that.

    Awesome post.


  2. Yeah I agree, it’s tough to break the habit of going big or going full speed going full etc. all the time, even though it may be for the best.

  3. If most people actually used proper form, they could probably drop about a third of the weight they’re lifting, see better results while keeping their joints and ligaments intact. Its tempting to go heavy but i’ve learnt my lesson after ndisabling myself for several days at a time due to overlifting.

  4. I agree with your initial analogy of using less speed and force for better precision. With practice however once can improve and provide both accuracy and force. Happy golfin!

  5. Slow but sure- I couldn’t agree more. I remember pushing myself hard after over a month of not being able to hit the gym in the efforts of trying to make-up for lost time. I end up with severe muscle pains the day after- keeping me from going back to they gym and doing more exercise. The whole point of working-out is progress and we can’t achieve that by staying in bed with muscle pains for a week.

  6. Actually more people commit the same mistake as you did David. In their exuberance to lose belly fat and get flat abs, they dive into their workouts only to miss a week’s worth of gym time after. The key is moderation and of course, proper form. Free online exercise videos work wonders for the latter- you can save them on your iPod and have your own electronic fitness trainer with you wherever you go without paying hefty fees.

  7. Bodybuilding is not about how heavy you lift. It’s all about how you lift. I mean with good form and high intensity you can achieve your goal without showing off that you are strong.

  8. Good form as the other poster said is the key here. Lifting less bkut with more good form will do you better in the long run and you will get better results. There are so many ways you can get it wrong. Thanks for great post.

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