Built by SOUTH

This past June, I went to Russia for the IPF raw world championships.  I met one of the Austrian lifters in the 120kg class — Alex.  He was a real nice guy and we had a good chat about training and such.  Fast forward until a few weeks ago.  Alex emailed me to let me know he would be on a road trip and they would be passing through my neighborhood.  So they stopped by yesterday and we trained.  It was really cool to have a training partner, even if we did tend to chat too much between sets.

One of the things we talked about was the feeling you get after going to a big competition.  For both of us, it’s this imperative feeling that you MUST train more.  You MUST find a way to get better.  In lots of ways, it makes the obsession deeper.  It’s a reality check of sorts.  “Hey, there are plenty of other strong folks out there.  I better get back to work!”  Speaking for myself, it makes me want to train more, train harder, and basically pour more effort into perfecting this craft.

Sure, there are other things in life that are also important.  For me, family is more important than lifting.  I have other goals, other aspirations and other priorities in life.  But Strength doesn’t care.

It’s too easy to make excuses.  I’m not talking about excuses not to train, because for the people reading this, it doesn’t happen often.  We all like to point to other people as the ones who are not committed.  It’s easy to look at the weekend warrior who finds excuses to not go to the gym.  But I’m not talking about them.  I’m talking about you and me.  I’m talking about the reasons we have.  If you have a crappy session or fail to show progress at the end of the cycle… why?

“I didn’t get much sleep this week.”

“My nutrition has been off”

“My training volumes have been too low”

“I’ve been sick”

“I’ve been injured”

But strength doesn’t care about any of that.  You don’t get cut any breaks because you have adversity to deal with.  Some or all of those could be valid reasons why a person might not progress.  And there might be a good reason why it happened.  Maybe a guy has a new baby at home and that’s why he hasn’t been getting any sleep.

Mike Tuchscherer Squat 2

Guess what… Strength still doesn’t care.  I’m not saying it isn’t a good reason.  In the case of the above example, it’s a damn good reason in my opinion.  But I’m saying that strength and your ability to display it is a callused [lady] and she doesn’t care about anything other than you doing the things required to make progress.  And if that’s important to you, then that’s the nature of what you’re dealing with.

Most of us are already marginally obsessed with being strong (and some more than others).  But if you’re like me and have other priorities in life too, then that’s fine.  Just understand the full view of where you stand.  Strength will not care about your priorities.  And if you care about strength, then there is only one recourse.  Find a way.  Make a way.  Get the work done.  Do what you have to do to see progress.  Other priorities?  That’s fine.  But it’s very simple.  Either you do what you need to do to improve or you don’t.

To me, the first step is having a realistic view of yourself.  Sure, you have reasons why you didn’t do what was required for improvement.  But everybody has reasons.  Even they people who skip the gym altogether.  The critical thing is to understand that it’s a simple matter of doing what is required.

This isn’t about self-judgment either.  Just because you don’t do what’s required doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, that you’re “uncommitted” or anything else.  I don’t advocate beating yourself up over something like this.  It’s simply a fact.  Whether it’s a good or a bad thing depends on how you look at it.  Guess what else… Strength doesn’t care how you look at it.  It’s not about whether you feel good or bad about your reasons.  It’s simply about doing the work.  So if you feel bad (or good), beat yourself up, or anything else, that just causes harm in the long term.  So don’t do it.  There will always be some point when Strength will require more from you than you’re willing to give.  The best way to deal with it is to look honestly at what you need to do to make progress versus what you’re willing to do.

This no-self-judgment thing is hard for some people to get and they don’t understand why it’s important.  We naturally want to see ourselves as heroes.  We want to think of ourselves in a positive way.  If we frame the reasons as “excuses” or otherwise have evidence of not measuring up to our own ideal, that’s painful for us emotionally.  Pain isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but everybody has limits.  If you deal yourself enough punishment, then eventually you start breaking down under the pressure – pressure you put on yourself with the words you chose to use.

It’s much better to see it how Strength sees it.  Did you do what was required?  Yes or no?  Okay, then next time do what’s required.  That’s it.  It doesn’t have to be an emotional endeavor.

It’s interesting that all of us acknowledge how much of our performance is mental, yet many will skip this article because it isn’t dealing with exercise selection or sets and reps.  If you learn to read the signs that Strength sends to you and not be derailed by your own emotions, you’ll be further ahead of your peers when it comes to your mental game.  And all of us admit that this is a big leg up in terms of making progress in the strength game.

Mike Tuchscherer is the founder of Reactive Training Systems as well as a competitive powerlifter.  In his own powerlifting career, Mike has racked up wins all over the world including national titles, world records, and IPF world championships.  In 2009, Mike went to Taiwan and became the first American male in history to win the gold medal for Powerlifting at the World Games.  Since, he has been pursuing raw competitions where he has continued to set records and compete among the best on the planet.  Professionally, Mike has coached 12 national champions, 2 IPF world record holders, national record holders in countries throughout the world, pro level multi ply lifters, strongmen, and literally hundreds of lifters who have set incredible personal bests following Mike’s coaching advice
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9 Responses to “Strength Doesn’t Care”

August 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm, Travis said:

Great article, just what I needed to hear today.

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August 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm, Mark said:

If Mike Tuchscherer is the author, then the article will definitely be read to the end regardless of topic!
I hadn’t given much thought to the topic the way Mike had framed it but it definitely seems like a sound approach. At present, my job and the rest of my life outside the gym allows me the time to put in the effort required to make progess. So I really haven’t had to deal with a situation where I’d beat myself up emotionally for missing training. I have thought a bit about saving for a home gym and moving from my current apartment to have room for that home gym, so that when a kid possibly comes my way in the next few years that I will be able to devote the same time to training as I do now by travelling to the gym.

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August 20, 2013 at 1:41 am, Andy said:

Well written article and wonderful timing. Have our first home and only 8 days old. Am struggling with enough sleep to maintain training but as mentioned, this new little guy is a wonderfully fulfilling “excuse” to have when the day’s goal weight isn’t reached.

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August 20, 2013 at 2:43 am, JOCO said:

I am not a power lifter, to say the least really, but wanted to leave a comment anyway. Like any good advice in life, this can be applied to many different aspects of life, those outside of lifting as well as those inside of lifting. It is a very human thing, as well as a very easy thing, to let our emotions dictate our reality. In that way it is very easy to become overly emotional about something and instead of that being a benefit, which it sometimes will be, it becomes a hindrance. I thought this was a very well-written piece and I appreciate the advice and even though the direct application does not apply to me, it does apply to me when used as an analogy for other situations in my life. Good wisdom, as well as true intelligence, are born from experience, not age or opinion. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and I hope people take the time to read the article.

JOCO

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August 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm, Terri said:

Bingo! thanks!

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August 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm, Nico said:

this is awesome! I needed this. I just switched gyms and was pulling way faster and better at the old gym, then at the new gym weights felt heavy as all hell, and slower than ever. oh well, I see it as a new challenge and motivation

gotta keep the PMA!!! (positive mental attitude)

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August 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm, Willy Montano said:

Fantastic article Mike!

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August 23, 2013 at 1:51 am, Zenon said:

to the point, simple, yet brilliantly true, applies to anything you want to be good at.

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August 24, 2013 at 4:58 am, Strength Doesn’t Care » BiggerBeast.com said:

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