They say, whoever ‘they’ are, that variety is the spice of life but then ‘they’ also say humans crave routine. I guess if you do the same thing differently that might count as a spicy routine. Who knows. I do like to ponder these things and with training I have definitely enjoyed the splendour of strength sports in all their glory.
I’ve competed in many for them and toyed with most of them. I love them all. They are like timelines in my history. Much like the movies I’ve been involved with, I can, even with my diminished memory, remember my life through eventful times in the gym and on film sets. When I say eventful, I kinda mean when I fucked up.
I remember doing Vertical Bar Lifts in the garden with my friends David and Darryl and the bar slipped, tearing the whole palm off my hand. I should have gone to hospital but I was young and tough (read stupid) and so I super glued it back on and carried on with the other hand.
I remember dropping a 50kg/110lbs plate on my foot at The Gallery in Windsor, UK (no longer there) and not making a sound (not a peep) as I was so pissed off with myself and then going home thinking I’d squashed my toe and when I eventually took my weightlifting shoe off I had indeed squashed my toe. It was a bloody mess that Wes Craven would have been proud of. That’s the same toe that was fully surgically fused together in 2016.
I remember dropping 90kg/200lbs on my face on a Smith machine in Sydney, Australia at Vince and Roz’s Gym (also sadly no longer there) and stubbornly continuing my workout in 100 degree heat. My gym towel looked like an O.J. Simpson crime scene exhibit by the end. Never mind, another scar.
All three of these occasions I was training but each time I was training something completely different. Vertical Bar Lifting was a thing in the ‘grip world’ at the time and my training was very grip heavy then. The 50kg plate I dropped because I was being casual with it lifting it by the rim and training was for Strongman. The Smith bar drop came during a time I was playing with Dave Draper bodybuilding style routines.
I can’t think of much that involves lifting weights I haven’t tried and mostly enjoyed. I even did Crossfit (shhhhh) for a short while. I first heard about it online and even conversed with Greg Glassman about it. This was when there was no Crossfit boxes or gyms (Circa. 2002). At the time I thought it had great promise but I soon realised that it was very limited and that the lack of programming was a problem. Mind you I do kick myself (not really) as I had the opportunity to start the first ever Crossfit gym in Australia and turned it down. Ce la vie.
Right now, in 2022 (making me well over half a century old) I’m toying with arm wrestling and bench pressing again among a multitude of other things. Building up the elbow conditioning for AW is brutal so I don’t expect too much but it is at least a strength sport that can be done in later years so I’m pursuing it for now. You would think that decades of grip training would help and it does to a degree but the truth is AW is an extremely sport specific game. Plus I have carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome in both hands and elbows but let’s not talk about that.
As for bench pressing. It was never a forte of mine but the volume training over the last few years seems to have paid dividends in my pressing strength. I’ve been training at World Record Bench Pressing King Scot Mendelson’s gym in Los Angeles (Mendy’s Gym in Van Nuys) on and off for a while now and seeing him move 1000lbs week in week out got my benching juices flowing I guess. So I tested my bench press having not touched the lift for a few years or more. I worked up to a mere 300lbs and Scot asked me if I wanted a spot. Hah!
The greatest bencher of all time wants to spot me on 300lbs. Scot and I are the same age but we are not built the same clearly (Scot is also a hell of an arm wrestler). Anyway, I pressed the weight easy. “You got 400 in you, that 325 flew” Scot said. I’d been using a 25kg barbell so the weight was heavier than I thought (always a good thing). So 400lbs it is!
I’ll give you a tip. Get a Mace or a Macebell or a 10-15lbs Sledgehammer and start learning 360’s. Swinging a mace has improved my shoulder health like nothing else. If it wasn’t for this I certainly wouldn’t be benching as my shoulders are ‘crunchy’ with multiple tears but the addition of swinging the mace at the end of a training session has worked wonders.
AW and Benching and mace swinging. Who’d have thought.
There’s more of course (curling goals, pronation goals, pullup goals, hand strength goals, fitness goals and probably summer goals too) and it’ll change, it always does.
And it always should.