My mind is obsessed with powerlifting and every aspect that goes into it. This haunts me. It can take focus away from other areas. But it also allows me to correlate random things to explain powerlifting in a better way. I was sitting in church and we were talking about vineyards and the growth of fruit (before you get all upset, I am not going to press my religious views on you). The Vine-keeper / gardener has many duties when tending to their crop for it to produce fruit. The more my pastor went into depth on the vine-keeper’s role, the more my mind was identifying the similarities with strength training.
Vineyards produce fruit which shows in the form of a grape. But what is fruit? Is it just the product of the vineyard that will always “just happen?” Fruit is actually a byproduct of “too much life (sap).” When the vine has this overflow it produces things that we want, fruit. If a plant is left to its own processes, it would rather grow more green leaves, shoots, branches, and vines All these are important features of growth without producing fruit. So what has to be done in order to produce and abundance of fruit on a vine, PRUNING!
This hit me like a dumbbell falling on my foot! So many people try and follow their favorite lifter’s style of training, make their own adjustments to a random program, never take helpful advice, or never ask for any. More often than not, people need to prune their objectives in training to produce more “gains” in the long run. I am not talking about small gains, I’m talking about the abundance of gains produced when grown properly, pruned properly, and cared for properly. The abundance of fruit produced at the end of a season in a vineyard correlates directly with the end-goal of training (a powerlifting meet, bodybuilding competition, etc).
So how do we go about pruning? Pruning needs to be done to both bad things and GOOD things in training. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to training. For instance, if you have a supplemental lift that you are good at, STOP DOING IT. Prune it out of your training and do something that does not come easy to you. Just like the vine, you have limited total resources. Channel them into things that produce fruit.
Prune out extra workouts when you are beat down from variables OUTSIDE OF THE GYM like WORK, RELATIONSHIPS, INJURIES, and LIFE! Some of the pruning that has helped me as an athlete over the past year is detaching myself from the gym and training. I think about this stuff all the time. Getting lost in a book or a movie has done wonders for me to distract from the mental stress and anxiety I GIVE myself over training. Naps are probably the greatest thing ever. I pruned two hours of my day to get at least a 20-60 minute nap in before training. I use the rest of the extra time to warm up slowly and efficiently prior to lifting. My energy, mood, and training have all drastically improved.
If you don’t tend your training like a farmer tends his crops, your time and effort won’t yield results. And complaining about it is like the farmer yelling at the vines to make fruit.
Most people blame their training when really they need to prune it and recover better by adjusting life variables to set themselves up for success in training.