Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Time to Train and a Time to Live - Jim Halliday

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David Rigert

A Time to Train and a Time to Live
by Jim Halliday (1956)

Progressing as a lifter does not depend solely on correct training, but is a combination of many things, some natural and some cultivated. Happy is the man who has all the essentials in his make-up. He is the one who progresses with a seemingly relaxed approach while the less fortunately endowed train harder, longer and more enthusiastically, but with less success.

It is obvious to me, and to anyone who would give thought to the subject, that a man’s everyday existence plays a major role in determining how successful training efforts are. It is useless to go through a strict training routine during the evening and neglect the rest of the time. If you want to successful then you must devote every hour of every day in the attempt to reach the goal you’ve set for yourself.

I do not imply that you should become a hermit, shut yourself off from everything but weight training, deny yourself simple pleasures; but before doing anything at all you should visualize its possible effects on your ambitions and be willing to accept the consequences.

As I have mentioned, some men can do everything randomly and seemingly wrong yet still succeed repeatedly. But unless you are one of this select band, it will pay you to think first. Far from preaching a sermon on the way you should live, I’m only asking you to consider your present living habits and see if you are willing to alter or modify some parts to increase your chances of success in lifting.

Since lifting is in the main an amateur sport, we must work for a living and consider the effects or our respective jobs on training progress. By this I mean that a lifter should work out a routine to work in with the nature of his livelihood. You must consider energy expenditure, fresh air, correct diet and several other necessary factors.

You job is the means by which you earn the means of existence, and lifting is a hobby, a directed form of relaxation. You cannot always change your job to fit in with your training, but it is always possible to arrange your training to fit in with the work you do.

For example, I have worked on changing shifts for the past eight years. 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. – 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. – 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. This you will admit is not conducive under ordinary circumstances to good training, and yet I manage well because I experimented until I found not only a system of training to suit each shift, but also a way of living that ensured correct eating and sleeping. In this way I was still able to obtain every possible benefit.

I tried many approaches but found only one that met every demand. For those who are placed the same with regard to shift work I give it here.

6 am to 2 pm shift – Breakfast at 5 am. Lunch at 10 am. Light meal at 2:30 pm. Dinner at 7:30 pm. I train at 4 in the afternoon, allowing two hours for training and giving me the necessary rest before and after training, with still some time for 8 hours sleep. I train 5 days on this shift and lay off on Wednesday and Saturday, thus breaking up the training suitably.

2 pm to 10 pm shift – Arise 8:30 am. Breakfast at 9 am. Training from 10:30 to 12:30. Lunch (heaviest meal) at 1 pm. Very light supper at 10:30 pm. Relax until midnight, ensuring 8½ hours sleep. Since I don’t like heavy lifting early in the morning, I press on three workdays along with assistance movements, and perform my heavy lifts on the two days off from work.

10 pm to 6 am shift – Bed after a light meal at 7 am. Rise at 3 pm and have a substantial meal. Training from 6 pm to 8 pm. Heavy meal at 9 pm. For the meal at work I have something very light. I train 5 days on these weeks, 3 on the lifts and 2 on assistance movements. And as I have the weekends off, on one of these days I try limit lifts.

This system is, I admit, nothing elaborate. A little thought and organization can improve your living and training conditions and thus assist your endeavors in life and lifting. For instance, I have a change of shift each week and actually have found I go stale less often than when I was employed at a job with the more stable hours. Each week I look forward to my training as though the timing made it something new and not the same old grind week in and week out, as opposed to looking at the changing patterns as a hindrance to my lifting.

Let’s talk about the type of work now. When you refer to a job you usually say it is either sedentary or manual. These are broad terms and describe either laboring or office work. I feel you can go much deeper. There are outdoor jobs that can be classed as sedentary and indoor ones that require the hardest labor that is detrimental to increasing strength. For the moment, let’s deal with the two direct opposites – the man who works with his muscles, and the man who let’s assume work with his brain. Who has the job most suited to athletic participation? Most people would say the office worker since he should have energy to spare, but they can’t convince me. The manual laborer does use a lot of energy during the day, but after a time his job becomes more or less semi-automatic and naturally, if he does not make much conscious effort he does not deplete his energy as much as if his efforts were more deliberate.

His body is naturally “tuned up” by his work and should help him to formulate the type of training he should undertake. A short, heavy schedule is best for this man and he must keep in mind that his recuperation will be done while he sleeps – so maximum sleeping time must be assured. He must plan his training so that he has a period to completely relax before going to bed after a hard lifting session. It’s hard to settle down after a heavy workout, and good book or a couple of beers before bed assist in relaxing the mind . . . an essential thing if sleep is to be full and deep.

The sedentary worker must tune up his body considerably before any strenuous lifting can be indulged in. Because he expends less energy, physically, than his opposite, this does not mean that he is more vigorous. More often than not the opposite is the case.

Concentrated mental effort is oftentimes more tiring than physical effort, and due to not being called upon to make deliberate physical effort during his work. When he does have to force his body into movement the effort draws further on his already much depleted mind . . . simply because such efforts follow his usual pattern . . . they are mental rather than physical.

Far too little has attention has been paid to the mental aspects of weightlifting. The mind plays an important part in training, and a tired brain that cannot concentrate on the task of bringing the body to peak of condition is just as bad as a body depleted of physical energy.

Every job, simply because it is a job, has its detrimental properties. A large proportion of your day is spent earning your daily bread, and a lot of people seem to feel that leisure is meant to be spent in pleasures that require little or no effort.

What actually constitutes pleasure? I like to think it is the pursuit of happiness, doing something in your spare time that gives you satisfaction and a sense of relaxation, mentally as well as physically.

Everyone has different tastes and ideas as to what is or isn’t happiness. But I sum it up in a single world – contentment. I feel that an endless round of social pleasures do not give contentment, not for some.

Satisfaction leads to contentment which is the very basis of happiness, and satisfaction often comes from achievement. You do not necessarily have to be a champion to be contented. If you have certain ambitions and utilize your existence in the pursuit of these ambitions, then you are living with a purpose and may be satisfied.

You can plan your life so as to ensure you get the utmost from it. I realize that a working man has only a certain amount of time to spare, and that is why I am saying the less free time you have, the greater the need for planning each day. By so doing you can work hard, train hard, and still have time for relaxing pleasures you consider essential.

Everything you do, every movement you make, every thought that passes through your mind has a bearing on your life as a whole. On your training, your job, your home life, the way you eat, breathe, walk – all these must play an important part, and all must be considered in the pattern of your existence.

I am not by any means saying you should set yourself on a pedestal and make a little tin god of yourself. But you must consider these things if you wish your training to be successful.

Your life is your own to do with what you will. Do not allow anyone to plan it for you. There is but one way to live and that is to plan YOUR OWN LIFE, to decide what it is that you want, and get it. If by chance your ambitions elude you, then you still have the satisfaction of knowing within yourself that you did try. Whatever you see as your purpose in life, only a wholehearted attempt gives the more complete satisfaction. Half measures will not get you very far in work . . . play . . . training.

Actually, it is easier to plan each day’s happenings than meander along haphazardly. If you know what you have to do to get what you want, then you not only do it with greater ease but much better. A little thought, a little planning, a little common sense can make all the difference in the world.

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