(Continuation of the Candid Approach 6/7. To start from the beginning click here.)
6. Consistent Action for Incremental Growth- by Chaz
I love lifting weights. There is something about getting stronger, about making a training program, walking out to the gym, turning on some rock music, chalking up, and pushing a barbell that deeply satisfies a visceral human instinct.
As Mark Rippetoe says, “A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong.” I fully concur, from personal experience.
I arrived at the United States Military Academy at West Point back in the summer of 2001. I was a nervous 18 year old who may have weighed 135lbs soaking wet. Having grown up as a runner, the Army’s physical fitness assessment (APFT) events of push-ups, sit-ups, and 2 mile run came easy to me.
By my second year I was standing in front of the entire corps of cadets receiving recognition from the Superintendent. I had earned the highest APFT score out of my class of over a thousand cadets.
Then I found myself at the Army’s demolition school, SAPPER, and was paired with a 200lb opponent for combatives training.
Being swift of foot did me little good on the mats. My stronger, more muscular opponent folded me into a pretzel.
Something had to change.
I needed to get bigger.
Above all, I needed to get stronger.
(I’m the skinny guy in the middle)
Train Simple, Train Hard, Get Stronger
Over the next few years I dedicated myself to working out.
Despite missing the endorphins following a long run, I cut back on cardio and started lifting dumbells and barbells. Being a complete novice, first I followed advice from magazines and guys I saw at the gym, but made no noticeable progress. Then, I turned to the idol of all bodybuilders—Schwarzenegger—and bought his encyclopedia of bodybuilding.
I lifted weights almost every single day. After over a year of effort I looked a bit more shredded. All of my joints were sore. But I was not bigger.
Finally, years later, I ran into programs that brought me back to the fundamental barbell lifts: the squat, deadlift, press, and bench.
When I changed my paradigm from wanting a bodybuilder beach body to, instead, getting quantifiably STRONGER, everything changed.
I learned that simple training programs, predicated on sound training principles, were the answer.
Incremental and tenacious increases in weight on the bar and eating lots of quality calories led me to start gaining strength and overall size.
Now, 45 lbs heavier, I can squat, bench, and deadlift immensely more than my 130lb self could have ever dreamed (and I can still run a decent two-mile, albeit a tad slower).
Raising Children and Lifting Weights
The point of outlining my fitness journey to get stronger is to show that it took more than spasmodically tossing weights around, imitating pictures from magazines. Most of the guys in magazines are enhanced by HGH, ‘roids, and who knows what.
I only got stronger when I simplified, made a plan based on sound principles, paid attention to nutrition, and—above all—remained consistent.
Every family has room to improve.
No one is perfect.
Our family is trying to get better every day.
I will share one thing we are NOT doing. We are not trying to model a family we saw on television, or in a magazine.
We are putting some of the above lessons learned to use.
- Simple: We make small, simple changes. We take on simple challenges, like eating dinner together.
- Sound: We don’t look for a single quick fix. No whimsical parenting book will show us the yellow brick road to success. We focus on love, service, quality time, and other tried and proven principles.
- Consistent: When we challenge ourselves, we are not looking for a single day of mad-scientist intensity. We want to develop habits, honed over at least 30 days, that become part of our lifestyle.
Raising children and building muscles both take dedication, both will make you sweat, and both will leave you feeling exhausted—but rewarded for your efforts.
***Update*** Click here to see how I have built our home gyms. And click here to see why our family loves powerlifting so much and how to start. We’ve tried to put together informative blog posts to help you and your family get bigger and stronger. Click here to take the family challenge and add fitness to your family lifestyle!
What is your favorite piece of parenting advice that you have received over the years?
Mine is that children mimic their parents! For better or worse!