Monday, May 28, 2018

Stay Away From That Sticking Point - Charles Smith III

Here's an article by Charles Smith III, the grandson of Charles A. Smith.
It's current, just in case you still have difficulty realizing
it's not the date of information that determines its usefulness or worth.
Not really, it's the great lifting author Charles A. Smith writing in early 1957.

Gioachino Rossini 

The famous composer Rossini once claimed he had cried but three times in his whole life. "On each occasion," he said, "the cause was sheer frustration."

He cried when he heard Paganini play; again when was his first opera was booed off the stage; once more at a picnic when a roast goose fell into the lake.

I can sympathize with him. There's nothing so disheartening than to work hard, reach a goal, and then see someone do what you've done with ten times less effort; to have your finest achievements remain unappreciated; have success finally within your grasp yet finally elude you.

Take the simple matter of becoming stale as an example. If there's anything calculated to frustrate a weightlifter more than a sticking point I've yet to see it. Show me the man who does not curse his fate, who remains unthwarted in the face of his inability to make progress, who isn't baffled when it comes to solving his problem, and I'll show you either a genius or a saint.

Of course there are some geezers who'll tell you there's only one cause of weightlifting staleness, and but one cure for it. To these you donate "do-it-yourself" brain surgery kits and allow them to trepan themselves out of existence.

The fact remains that there are two primary causes, and a host of minor ones arising out of them, which are responsible for a weightlifter reaching a sticking point.

Trying to solve the problem by applying a "cure-all" does little or nothing to remedy the condition, and will in all probability make it worse.

Just as surely as the signpost on the highway points to the town you are approaching, so there are signs or clues that indicate approaching staleness, or a sticking point, with amazing clarity. Lucky is the lifter who recognizes them for what they are.

The two main causes are mental and physical. One may even result in the other. Their parents may be inability to relax, spending too much time on one schedule of exercises, eating poorly planned meals, excessive use of tobacco and/or alcohol, working too hard, not enough sleep, worrying, and too many activities outside of weightlifting.

The signs are these. Lack of enthusiasm for training sessions, a constant nervous or irritable disposition, poor appetite, excuses made on the slightest pretext to skip workouts, inability to get a good night's sleep, waking up as tired as when retiring.

Take the fellow who lives, eats, sleeps and thinks about sport. On the surface these would appear admirable qualities for successful weightlifting. And so, in moderation, they are. But carried to extreme they can head a man into the worst case of staleness imaginable. Be enthusiastic, yes! Work hard when you must . . . but on your training days only! 

I know I've given this advice before, and I'll doubtless give it a thousand times in the future. On the days when you take your workouts, train with everything that's in you, with every ounce of your energy and enthusiasm.

On the days you are supposed to take a rest, do just that, REST. Forget that such things as barbells exist. Forget that an activity such as weightlifting plays any part in our life.

Now for the lifter who sticks to a schedule of exercises indefinitely. Here's another sure way of hitting a sticking point but fast. Just imagine if you were forbidden to eat anything but steak and French fries. "Wonderful," you say. And so it would be for the first few days. But give yourself a little time brother. Inside of two weeks you'd be hating the very sight, small and taste of your meals, and you'd be hollering for such appetizing victuals as crusts of bread and cold water.

The very same rule applies insofar as weightlifting is concerned. Select a schedule and start using it. You begin with the utmost enthusiasm. You enjoy every minute of your training -- for a time that is. Comes the dawn, the revolution, or what have you. Soon your enthusiasm is on the wane.

Not long after, you have swung right round to the other extreme. Once you were eager to take a workout. Now you're anxious to get it over and done with, and you tear through it as fast as you can.

Then you begin skipping training sessions for no good reason you can think of except that you're fed up to the teeth with the very sight of a barbell. Boredom has ruined more promising weightlifters than any other factor. Variety is not only the spice of life but the seasoning of lifting too.

You must learn to figure out for yourself when you should change your schedules. There's absolutely no reason on earth why you should stick to an exercise program once its usefulness has been exhausted. As soon as you stop making progress with any training routine, DROP IT and start another.

You can try working exclusively on your weakest lift and ending your program with simple basic exercises. You can even make a complete switch and use nothing but power or assistance movements for a couple of months. Some lifters have even beaten the problem by using just heavy deep knee bends for a month or two.

What about overwork? No one can deny that dedication to a task is necessary in order to bring success -- hard work and success walk hand in hand, but as in other things there's a limit here too.

Take a beginner for example. He walks into the gym, chalks up, then rips into presses, snatches, and clean and jerks as if he has only an hour to live and weightlifting is guaranteed to prolong his life by two hundred years. That goes fine for a couple of weeks. Then he begins dragging himself around with as much bounce to the ounce as concrete on concrete.

Don't let yourself get into a similar situation. Hard work never meant slavery. There are some individuals with an inexhaustible supply of energy. They can train every day in the week and never hit a sticking point. A few hours rest, a day spent at the beach and they're all ready to go. But the normal individual who has to work for a living should remain content with three or four training periods weekly. Work out hard more often than this and you'll soon be walking on your knees, wondering why your press or snatch or clean and jerk has suddenly dropped thirty pounds.

Another important cause of staleness is improper diet and living habits. No matter if others refuse to accept you as an athlete, YOU ARE JUST THAT. As much an athlete as any pro fighter in championship training. So behave as such. If you've got to smoke and drink, then smoke in moderation and never touch hard liquor. Stick to a glass or two of good beer and you won't go wrong.

And above all, avoid the athlete's UNHOLY THREE . . . COKE . . . CANDY . . . CAKE. If you don't then you are headed for training trouble. The sport you are in is most strenuous. It results in tissue broken down rapidly, tissue that must be replaced. The building blocks of your body are the proteins. See that your meals contain an adequate supply of these.

Don't turn your nose up at such meats as liver, kidneys, tripe and heart. These are not only the richest protein sources but are also extremely rich in vitamins, and if Mom knows her stuff in the kitchen, you'll eat them with relish and reap loads of benefit. Don't forget lots of fresh fruits, green vegetables, cooked as little as possible, and fresh green salads -- AND -- another must, a quart of milk daily.

Well, we've got you training within your energy bounds, eating right and living as you should. Now what about other activities? You're working out three or four times a week but on your "rest" days, you get in a game of football or hockey, depending on the time of year. Maybe you go to a Saturday night dance with the girl friend, do some killer M and don't get home till four in the morning. Then there's that late night TV viewing.

You're way off the beam if you think you can keep this up. You can't undertake a heavy weightlifting program, go without enough sleep and engage in every other type of athletic and social activity between workouts. Remember this -- weight training and weight training only! When you're not lifting . . . RELAX. 

Last but by no means least we have poor instruction and coaching as one of the foremost causes of the sticking point. Stay away from all institutions that employ "volunteer" instructors, or those gyms that allow bodybuilders to train there free in return for "looking after beginners."

A good coach doesn't waste your time nor his by trial and error. A five minute chat, twenty or thirty minutes watching your lifting style or exercise performance, and he knows just where you stand and can advise you accordingly.

The amateur or "volunteer" instructor can take you all over the world of weightlifting and get you no place. It's the only way he knows how to travel. All you wind up with is a good case of fatigue and frustration. Plenty of potential champions have been ruined by that dangerous "little knowledge."

Becoming a successful weightlifter and staying away from sticking points is so utterly simple. Use your common sense and you can't help but succeed. Don't go overboard for any theory until you complete evidence of what it can accomplish in the gym on real lifters in a real life lifting setting.

there is no reason on earth why you should ever go stale.      


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