Words of Wisdom w/ Gerald
Article Three: Come on man!
The “come on man” rant is finally here. We’re going to tackle body weight on this one with two topics! To dive right in, nothing pisses me off more than companies and trainers who brag about their client’s 30-60 day weight loss challenge results. I can’t think of a greater disservice to your client than putting them on a ridiculously low, temporary, crash diet. Now on the other side of things, if you’re new to powerlifting (training less than 5 years (yes, I fall into this category)) stop worrying about making a weight class! Yes, it’s a competition, yes, you want an advantage to win, but if you’re leaving pounds and pounds off your total by making drastic cuts or by limiting your body weight and/or muscle gains…you’re doing it wrong.
It’s in our nature to want quick fixes. How would a trainer tap into that emotion? Offer a seductive, expedited weight loss “solution” (pipe dream) to these misinformed clients. This is the same reason fit-teas, six shakes a day, and other insta-fad gimmicks work...people actually buy this stuff. And this is exactly what’s wrong with our industry when it comes to training clients in person with goals of weight loss. When you have people losing more than 1% body weight every week, or losing 20-30lbs in a month, they are losing more than just fat. Fat loss over a longer period MUST be the standard to make a true change in someone’s life. Weight loss and health are two very different things. Putting your average 200lb guy on a 1,000 calorie or sub 1,000 calorie diet is not on the health side of things. With crash diets like these, people are fucking up their metabolisms for the long term, messing up their hormones, and weakening their immune systems. I don’t have to even touch on the obvious fact that these programs are not sustainable, and the weight generally will creep or rush back on. Add in overly strenuous, weekly workouts that generally pair with these programs and your body has little to no nutrients left to recover with. All that this leaves them with are injuries and false hopes. Let's say you do complete one of these challenges and attempt to move towards a more livable program. Is the support there? Do you freak out when the scale jumps 3lbs because you have actually replenished some glycogen? Now what? Come on man…we need to do better as a whole.
To segue into the powerlifting side of things I’ll shed my irresponsible light into both topics. To back track to mid-January of this year, I competed in a local Detroit Barbell UPA meet in the 242lb weight class; it was the first time weighing in that heavy. I hit a 155lb meet personal best that day-very nice jump coming up from the 220s. Fast forward to the beginning of March to the APF Michigan State Meet (a meet I like to do every year), I had the bright idea to make the light weight day, so I could lift with some training partners in the Sunday session. Six weeks and 44lbs later I made the 198lb class. Did I win? Sure. Did I PR? Not even once…body weight PRs aren’t really a thing. So, with a 6-week keto, crash diet, I lost a considerable amount of muscle mass, an okay amount of fat, and to top it off after weighing in I put back on more weight than where I started the water cut at in the first place. While this was an awesome scenario for a powerlifting meet (stepping on the platform at 225lb in the 198lb class), it is an awful thought for people trying to come off these ridiculous low calorie, low carb, bullshit diets in real, everyday life. There’s two morals to this story; If your goal is to trim down, please lose fat the correct way, slowly over time. If your goal is to get stronger in powerlifting, don't be afraid to use weight gain as another tool in your toolbox.
I spoke with a lifting buddy just last week about where the biggest jump in strength over the last few years came from, and we agreed that the best progress was achieved when we stopped worrying about making a certain weight class. I would recommend to 99% of lifters, to not restrict your diet to the point of limiting your strength progress. I'm not saying to become a fat slob and to throw nutrition out of the window, but a few pounds of body weight could convert to a nice jump in your total. Weigh in at meets wherever your body is the strongest that it can possibly be. If you can maintain body weight relatively easily, and gain reasonable ground year after year, more power to you. But, if a lift or three has stalled out significantly maybe it’s time to build a bit more muscle or add a few lbs of body mass. The other 1% of these lifters would include those winning huge meets, breaking open world records, and those ranking at least top 20 in the world. For the rest of us, your body weight and weight class shouldn't matter…at all. Now it’s great if you need to maintain a lower body weight for health reasons, or hey maybe you want to look a certain way or whatever, but you’re accepting that getting stronger in powerlifting isn’t your #1 priority at this point in time. Be open to controlling what you can control, and using this as another variable in your arsenal.
Most of us lift heavy shit for fun (and/or to not commit homicide), so why worry about what body weight you are if you are lifting the most you absolutely can and enjoying doing it? I promise you that no one cares if you win your weight class or place at a local/state meet with the same petty numbers as always or with baby prs. I would much rather see a 50-100lb all time personal best out of a new lifter regardless of their place or weight class. As for the wannabe, weight loss gurus out there, please do us a favor and stop with the gimmicks! Provide your clients with real lasting value, long term manageable changes, and well thought out programming that works safely in conjunction with their nutrition plan and goals.
Take it for what it is…maybe I’m just bitter, and justifying my fat ass gaining more weight, but come on man!
Happy training as always RPG.
Upcoming Meets at Rochester Performance Gym:
*Raise the Bar II - Deadlift Only Meet
*UPA Winter Warfare Full Power Meet