Shared experience, Strength and Stoicism. Shared experience, Strength and Stoicism.

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Thread: Shared experience, Strength and Stoicism.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    325

    Default Shared experience, Strength and Stoicism.

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    Hi all.
    After reading all of the books by Rip & al, I thought I'd share my experience here. The intent is that maybe someone can relate and thus reinforce some of the positivity that they may have gained from lifting and especially from the specific attitude and input from this forum and the related material. Sorry if this is a long story, but it is supposed to convey the journey.

    I used to run. I wasn't very good at it, but I was addicted to it and did manage to improve my times to the point where I ran a half-marathon in 2013, in 1:47+ some seconds. I looked like a marathoner, to be sure. I still do (more about that late), but then, at 185cm (~6'1) I weighed at 64kg (~140lbs). I did Taekwondo in under 68kg class. And I had no problems with my physique, I thought I don't need strength. I was happy with all this, happy with being able to do 100 pushups and 15 chinups, virtually unlimited amount of situps -- easy with my frame at the time, and run 3K in under 12 minutes. The first thing that made me think that I may need more strength was when I was sparring with a 250lbs+ guy at my height -- a powerlifter -- who punched me in the side an broke my ribs. No hard feelings, no hostility, nothing, the guy was just hyooge and strong. His total (RAW) was something like 620kg (1365lbs) or something, I don't recall exactly. Not enormous but certainly impressive and certainly so much that I had no business on the mat with him.

    I had to stop running due to some specific ITB-problems, and this guy suggested I do squats. So I started on some HS-program that had some squats in them as I didn't know better. I played around with some other programs, and then I encountered the Stronglifts-program. Many of you know that, it is basically the rip-off of SS with 5 sets of 5 and rows instead of cleans. The app is just so damn good, and until recently I used it (you can customize if you pay, to make it look like SS novice program). So, I started on that in the beginning of 2015. Right about the same time as my wife of more than 10 years told me flat out she wanted a divorce. So there I was, with something of a program, my life seemed to be unraveling, everything I had worked so hard on, I was losing. I couldn't run more than 5K due to my ITBS. My ribs were broken three times in 2014 and I kind of was through with TKD; three weeks during which you don't want to laugh, coughing hurts like hell and sneezing is tantamount to opening the Lament Configuration, I had nothing to keep me sane, except lifting.

    So I did my first bout of what resembled the novice progression with this program. I hit the wall at 110kg squat and 130kg deadlift, 90kg bench and 50kg press (~240/285/195/110lbs). I gained about 20lbs during the couple of months. In retrospect I wasn't eating enough, but then again, I was in the middle of a divorce, selling my house, struggling with my work and basically an all out mess. But I was much less of a mess than I thought I would be -- this was the lifting. The sense that you can get stronger if you just grind your way into it. Then, in April of 2015, I fucked up my shoulder. It started with a subacromial bursitis. Layoff from bench and press did nothing -- in retrospect, again, should have read this forum, should have read the books, but I hadn't so I didn't realize -- went through physical therapists and the sorts, nothing seemed to help. Everytime I even looked at a bar with the idea of pushing it in any way, my shoulder would hurt. I kept squatting but I wasn't improving. I wasn't recovering either, I kept working out three times a week under the bar, but also running: Uphills like 380m with 70m elevation for time, weight vested 3K runs, some LSD-grinding even. And worried about my abs. A man of 39, in the middle of a divorce, with abs to show, you see how losing them seemed like a bad idea.

    It was then that a friend of mine told me about this guy Mark Rippetoe and his programs, peculiar style, idiosyncratic Texas Accent, libertarian/heinleinian views and a science geek-style take on many things. This hit a chord in me. Especially when he quoted: "Physical strength is the most important thing in life. This is true whether we want it to be or not." I had always been a fan of the idea that some things are true whether we want them to be or not. I had also read up on Stoicism at that time. I won't venture here to explain it in greater detail, but the idea is that things outside our control should not bother us and that it is our reactions to things rather than the things themselves that cause us misery. Needless to say, in my hour of darkness, this too was something I found comforting.

    So, I ventured to this forum and gobbled up on all material I could find. In January of 2016 I started my novice progression. Having rehabbed my shoulder for 9 months, I started doing The Program, cleans and all. I took things back so that I started the squat at 100kg and the deadlift at 110kg, the bench at 50 (shoulder) and the press at 40, cleans at 30kg. As a man of 40, I kind of thought that GOMAD is not really for me -- in retrospect, I was wrong, and I freely admit. Nevermind the constipation and gas, I would need the mass. At 71kg, I started on a diet of protein-fortified chocolate milk, quark, Whey protein, lasagna, Bic Macs, fried eggs and peanut butter. +4000kcal a day until this April, when I was at 79kg, squatting 130kg, pulling 140, pressing 55, and cleaning 70 (285/310/120/155). I had to stop benching yet again once I reached 85kg due to my shoulders not having any of it, so now I just press.

    I know from reading all the books and experiences that at this stage, especially if I was younger, I should still be able to milk the linear progression. At my height, usually guys have still +30kg to increase in the big lifts and +20kg of bodyweight to gain. But let's face it: I am 40 in a few weeks. I have never had a good appetite; in fact the moment I stop deliberately overeating, I start losing weight, and fast. Even my current diet causes me to have a full stomach virtually all my waking hours. I am still gaining, but now slower. My ability to recover was the limiting factor, so I switched to TM two weeks ago and my Friday's intensity lifts are now past my novice weights. I still have to eat like a madman.

    And, I am almost ashamed to admit this, I still have most of those abs to show. I still look like a marathoner, mostly. But the journey, I feel, is only now starting. My birthday is in a few weeks and if TM works like it's worked the last three weeks, I will be pulling 150kg before my 40th birthday. I have two kids, boys of 9 and 12. I have not pushed them in any way, but I do quote Rip whenever they have some issues where strength is a limiting factor.

    I find that lifting is something that is mine. Of course, injuries or illness can take that away from me, but still, when I am under the bar, that is something I own. For that few seconds I am focused and I am happy. 18 months ago I thought my life was coming to an end. With the end of my novice progression, I now feel, it has just started. Thanks for all the great stuff.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    337

    Default

    Thanks for sharing this story, Tiedemies. As someone who has been a runner, done Tae Kwon Do (I now train at Kickboxing instead), there was a lot here that I identified with (not including the difficulty keeping weight on lol).
    I have also found the ideas of the Stoics very useful. I suffer from depression and my counsellor got me reading them. But I have to say I find getting stronger to be the best anti-depressant!

    Anyway, all the best!

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