Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chasing 315

The quest began shortly after I entered the Powerhouse Gym in Highland Park almost 30 years ago.  It was the summer between high school and college.  A few friends were going to gym to stay ready for football when they went away to college.  They were all playing college ball someplace – I never played or had interest in football.  I just wanted to get into shape.  As I entered the gym, I was impressed by the massive amounts of weight lifted by massive men.  I was new to working out with weights and self conscious.  I was not a 95 pound weakling – I was a 200 pound weakling.

One exercise people like to use as a measure of strength is the bench press.  The folk I worked out with were lifting more than 225 pounds - 2 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar.  The strongest of the group was lifting 315 - 3 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar.  When it was my turn, they dropped the weight to 135 (one 45 pound plate on each side).  I gasped, squirmed and struggled. It was too heavy and I was embarrassed.  They assured me - everyone starts out with a low weight.  They lowered it to 95 pounds.  I struggled less and lifted the weight.

That was when I set a goal of lifting 315.  I worked hard that summer.  By the fall, I was benching 135.  The folk I worked out with emphasized form over amount of weight.  I was still embarrassed - but I kept working on it.  I decided to buy a lifetime membership (initial fee of $290.00 and a $50.00 renewal).

When the folk I worked out with went away to college, I kept going and worked out with a new group.  I made progress.  Over time, I improved and became more confident.  I realized that it is not important where you start - just that you start.

After a few years of hard work, I accomplished it - I was able to bench 315.  Now what?  I changed my goal to lift it with ease. Accomplished.  Now what?  I did not have a fitness goal - only a single exercise.  I lost focus and purpose in my workouts.  Without focus at the gym, I slacked off.  I stopped going for long  stretches of time.  The longer I was away, the easier it was to stay away.

I needed a proper goal. I needed a general fitness goal to go along with various specific goals. Setting a goal of benching 315 was limiting – it said nothing about health or fitness.  It was not part of an overall fitness goal.  Without a health and fitness goal, I gained weight – a lot of weight.  I topped out at 330.  While working toward my goal of benching 315, my over 6 foot frame stayed about 235.

The start of this year, I set a general fitness goal to go along with various specific strength goals.  Based on a TED talk by Derek Sivers, I’m going to keep these goals private.  They are written down and I hold myself accountable.  After I achieve them, I'll share them.

You can check out the TED Talk by Derek Sivers here: http://bit.ly/dgPwfg

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