First let me start off by saying how good it is to be back writing some stuff again, it's been a long time since I have written so bear with me as I knock the rust off. Second I'd like to lay out my disclaimer that my articles/blog posts are not scientific articles....they are opinion pieces and generally just my ramblings. That being said I will try to periodically put something out that I hope ya'll will enjoy, sometimes it won't be a full article, it may just be a blurb from my brain or just a few thoughts I want to share, but hopefully that will be the beauty of doing this with Black Legion, the openess and freedom will allow me to be more expressive. Thanks for reading and I'll get started now.
The other day I put up a post on Facebook stating something to the effect of "If I were to tell you exactly what it took to be an elite level strength athlete you'd probably quickly realize that is not the life you want to live" or something like that. There were quite a few comments of people inquiring as to what these things were and what does it exactly take so I want to lay out a few of these things here for you. I do want to mention I'm not going to get into the "juicy" or "dark" side of sports....I have no intention of pissing people off and the reality of it is....I don't know that much about that side.
A long time ago I decided to become an elite strength athlete, hell at 22 years old (10 years ago) I thought for sure I'd win WSM by the time I was 25 or so and I set my mind and my heart on becoming everything I wanted to be. I got actively involved in competing in powerlifting, and strongman and surrounded myself with guys of the highest caliber and tried to suck up as much knowledge as I possibly could. As I look back now I realize that very few of those guys really talked about the impact choosing this lifestyle was having on their personal lives. One person in particular had a candid conversation with me at an early age and I remember it very clearly but I think at the time I didn't pay attention to what was said like I should have. Jesse Marunde told me one day as we were barbecueing in his back yard "Dub, I've modified my entire life to accomplish one goal...I want to be the strongest man in the world....and everything in my life revolves around that one goal.". At the time I kind of blew it off, but as time goes on I realize how true that statement is more and more.
You see, being an elite strength athlete isn't like being a badass swimmer or runner or even football player, it's different, it's much harder. Take a look at the millions of swimmers, runners or football players in the world, look at how many have reached a high level in these very respectable sports. Now let's take a look at how many men have deadlifted 900+ under powerlifting standards in competition, the number is still under 25. Yes, a lot of strongmen have pulled 900+ because the ability to hitch, use straps and so on is helpful but the reality is the number of strongmen deadlifting 900+ is still very low compared to the number of people that have run a marathon or a done a triathalon. 2 men in history have ever snatched triple bodyweight., and the list goes on. Not that these 2 lifts are the only lifts indicative of an elite strength athlete but what this tells me is that getting stupid strong is hard, really really hard and takes tons of dedication and sacrifice.
To become elite you have to do exactly what Jesse said, you have to make your entire life revolve around that one single goal. I've NEVER been on a vacation in my life, because if I had the time and money to travel I was going to spend it on going to train with someone better than myself or go to a competition. When I choose a vehicle I choose one based on, size for myself obviously, but also how much equipment it can carry, if the seat will absorb too much sweat or not, and other things like is the sound system good enough that I can hear it when I leave the doors open while I'm training outside. The reality is, whether it suits my kids is actually one of the last deciding factors. Up until the point I had kids I MAYBE missed 10 training sessions in a period of 8 years....training came before everything....church, weddings, funerals, etc etc. I literally missed out on major life events of friends and family because I was sweating and grinding in a dusty barn somewhere flipping tires. The pain you will endure will be tremendous, you will ALWAYS have some sort of injury or be unbearably sore so you can forget about Saturday or Sunday hikes with the family, you're going to be laid up on your couch with ice on your knees, only getting up to eat. You will lose friends and your family will shun you and call you "selfish" because you bring your own food to family functions or you didn't show up at all because "your press needs work". Your job will suffer because you're too sore to perform some of your duties, you're taking time off regularly to fly to some random country to compete and come back so exhausted you can barely move. Not to mention, everyone at your job will very clearly know that you'd rather be lifting than being at your job.
Here's the lovely part, your romantic relationships (if you even have the time to get into one) will suffer tremendously, even if she lifts too. I am divorced and while I don't contribute the whole thing to being a strongman I will say she often came second to strongman and forcing someone else to make their life revolve around your dreams can be strenuous as hell on a relationship. To my knowledge there has only been one man to win WSM that had a wife and kids at the time of his winning. I'm not saying you can't reach a super high level with a family but the fact is you should spend almost every minute of what little free time you have trying to meet their needs and you better hope they are extremely understanding
I realize I paint a negative picture of this sport and really what is my life, but that is not my intention. I love my life, I am happy with every decision I have made and I have no regrets, I don't live in the past but I do wish someone had told me these things prior to me diving into this head first. I probably would've still made most of the same decisions but at least then I would have had all the information up front. So that is what I am hopefully giving you. I have reached a high level in strength sports but in all honesty my performance in the past 4 years has slowed down a little. I had kids and I often times make the decision to spend time with them rather than train. I put my family first these days and I am very content with that
My advice to anyone that is looking to "take it to the next level" is to really evaluate what is important in your life, not only now but also what you want in the future. It is hard to "have your cake and eat it too" in strength sports because of the demands they place on an individual. If you choose to push forward do so with every intention to be the best at what you do BUT if you choose not to, learn to be happy with where you're at. It is perfectly ok to treat lifting as a "life enhancement" and not an all consuming activity that you must spend every waking moment focusing on. I hope this helps some of you or that you at least enjoyed it and as always I love hearing your feedback
Note: statistics are always changing in the strength world so some of the above numbers may be off but hopefully you get the point that being deisel strong is hard as fuck.