Exhibit A: 20-rep squats
Did you know that it's awesome to barbell squat 315 lbs? That's a 45-lb barbell with three 45-lb plates loaded on each side. Merely the sight of it is something to behold.
Do you know what it feels like to squat 315-lbs? With good form? No knees buckling inward. No plia half reps or rounding of the spine or exaggerated forward trunk lean? I think that feeling is something like miseraspectacular.
Do you know what you can do in life if you can squat 315 with good form? Your posture is good. Your trunk and legs are strong and stable. Unless you're a huge meat head, you probably have a deep well from which to draw when jumping and sprinting and practicing various feats of athleticism to your hearts content.
Now imagine what it's like to squat 315-pounds for 20 repetitions in a row. With each effortful rep comes an additional heaping of misery and mental fortitude and awesomeness broad and wide. You don't need repeated death circuits or 45 minutes of running (though you probably could if you had to) because you just squatted 315-lbs for 20 freakin reps.
Why 20-reps? Well, because. If you care, read THIS IS 20-REP SQUATS.
Exhibit B: Kyle Kohler
Last week Kyle squatted 315 for 20*. He's fast. He can tuck jump close to 5 feet. From what I hear he's a force on the (hockey) ice.
My 1-year old daughter runs to him with open arms, which may be a larger accomplishment than all the rest.
I don't want to hear excuses. When I first met Kyle he had severe right hip pain that was possibly a torn hip labrum. He was weak in the hips and core. His ankle and hip mobility were terrible in all directions. He literally could not squat 20 reps with a broom stick over his head.
When many athletes and gym rats his age were fooling around with fads and high tech-looking gadgets, Kyle put his nose to the grindstone at square one. He worked on controlled mobility (flexibility and stability). I recall performing some manual hip "adjustments" but he probably did close to 1000 total reps in appropriate wimpy rehab type moves. He revised his training. He could run and ice skate and lift weights without hip pain.
He showed up to train in a little basement with a crappy ipod player and less than $1200 worth of gear. He didn't change his set and rep and exercise scheme every other week. When squatting 225 for twenty was brutal he took on 230 the next week. When the weights increased but his form dwindled he cut back. When butterflies and vertigo struck BEFORE going under the bar for 275, 280, ...300 X 20, he went there and got 'er done.
He listened. Well, he 80% listened, which is about 40% better than I could achieve at his age.
How do you get a person to define exactly what they want and actually listen and work hard at pursuing it for longer than 8 or 12 weeks? I'm not suggesting that these goals are the best goals for everyone or that my way of training is the only good way. But our ADD technology driven population sure could benefit from trying some consistent, basic, hard work done well.
These qualities seem too familiar and simple, but they cannot be bundled into a neat package. Hopefully there's value in the understanding gained from reading about it!
*Squats were technically 1/2 to 3/4 depth squats. Not butt-to-heels as required for an official powerlifting meet or whatever. Depth is sufficient to be miseraspectacular and safe given Kyles stature and slight impairments in hip and ankle ROM that he's still working through. I rarely advise heavy full squats due to patellofemoral damage that they usually do impose over time.
Kyle dead lifting 350X5: