I remember we had this big anatomy test coming up and I asked Danny if he wanted to study with me. He said that he wanted to but he just didn't have the time. He had to attend a retreat for his church. I warned him that he better study because the test was going to be a real killer. He assured me he would be totally prepared when it came time for the test. That weekend I spent every waking hour studying anatomy. I really got into it. By the time Monday rolled around I was ready. I met Danny right before class and asked him if he had studied for the test. Amazingly, he told me that he hadn't even opened the book. I asked him what he was going to do. Do you know what he told me? He said "l am putting this test in the Lord's hands. He will take care of me." He then gave me this bright eyed look and said. "Trust in the Lord and all things will be possible to you." I was right, the test was a real nightmare. The kind that separates the men from the boys. I was ready, though, and as a result I got a 97, the highest grade in the room. How did Reverend Danny do? Well, he didn't even qualify as a fetus, he got a 23, the lowest grade on the test. Here is the point, the Lord helps those who help themselves. There is no free ride in life. You reap what you sow. If you're not willing to work no one is going to help you, not even the Lord.
We all want to believe that there is some easy way to the end of the rainbow. That there is some magic formula for success. In fact, most athletes and non-athletes are looking for a magic elixir that will transform them into a superman over night. Well the magic elixir is a nasty little lie that can linger for a lifetime, a fantasy substitute for the reality that we have to work for what we get in life. I would love to tell you that one day I ate a big bowl of Magic Flutie Flakes, went to the gym, and turned into a world class powerlifter. If I had such a magic formula that by-passed the hard work phase, I would be instantly rich and I wouldn't have the body of an eleven year old stamp collector. I would also be a fraud and a storyteller. The fact is there are no shortcuts in life. Over the past two decades I have researched just about every ergogenic aid known to man. I've read just about every book on human performance and I have visited just about every Olympic training center in the world. With the exception of dangerous and/or illegal drugs there is no alternative to hard work. And even if you are using such drugs, you still have to work. Nothing worth having in life is for free.
Let me tell you about this study that was conducted in the early sixties. It is a rather revealing investigation. A team of biomechanical experts went to the York Barbell Club in York, Pennsylvania in order to study a human phenomenon named Paul Anderson. At the time, Anderson was considered the strongest man ever to have walked the face of the earth. There was strong evidence for this claim. For starters, Anderson held all of the world records in both Olympic and powerlifting -- a feat unequaled before and since. Consider this for a moment: At a time when the world's strongest men were struggling to master 700 pounds in the squat, Anderson had already managed a 1200 pound squat. Even today, close to three decades later and with the aid of drugs and sophisticated equipment, no man has come close to cracking the 1100 pound barrier. Let me put that into perspective for you: that record would be analogous to Bob Beamon long jumping 40 feet, or Mark McGwire hitting 90 home runs in a year. It's mindboggling just to think about it. Just for the record, Anderson is still the only human being to back lift over 6000 pounds, one arm press over 300 pounds, and neck lift over 800 pounds.
Not surprisingly, the research team was hoping that by studying Anderson they could find a physiological substructure or some characteristic that was responsible for Anderson's awesome strength and power. They assumed that if there were a biological, anatomical, or psychological center of strength, then surely it would be found in Paul Anderson.
After considerable testing, they concluded that Anderson was indeed different from other lifters he had studied. From a biomechanical standpoint, Anderson's body was almost perfectly constructed to lift heavy weights. However, they found that Anderson's superior biomechanical structure was more the result of strength training - muscle and body mass have been shown to increase biomechanical efficiency - than good genetics. They thus considered that strength performance may be nothing more than a product of strength training - a process available to every athlete. In short, HARD WORK!
Although the study conducted on Anderson left a lot to be desired from a scientific standpoint, it did act as a catalyst for similar but more scientifically sound experiments. In fact, afterwards, a prolific number of studies were conducted to ascertain what variables correlated with world class performance. Interestingly, most of the research that was conducted supported the earlier theory.
Now here's something you need to stick in your notebook: A series of studies conducted by John Lawther a researcher from Michigan, found that the number one variable related to elite performance was time spent in training - not genetics. According to Lawther, elite performance was due more to quality training than to exceptional inborn capacities. Lawther estimated that twenty hours of quality training per week for a period of eight years appears to be the amount of work required to reach a world-class level. That's approximately ten thousand total hours. Apparently, a certain time is needed for an athlete to learn the most efficient methods and skills for enhancing performance. Even a would-be world-class athlete must learn the basics of the sport to build a firm foundation. To train twenty hours a week is, to say the least, very difficult. Yet, as Lawther emphasizes, it is twenty hours of quality training - with great intensity, not just twenty hours of training -- that is required for elite performance.
I'll go one step further and say that even prodigies have to work hard to be successful. You could be the greatest physical specimen to ever walk the face of the earth, but if you don't eat, sleep, and train right, you won't be around long. l don't care how much talent you have, if you're going to be successful - you have to work. You could be potentially the brightest person ever born, but if you don't get the proper inputs, or don't use them correctly, you're not going to function very well. The same is true physically. If you want to be great you have to pay a price. You have to jump in there and get your hands dirty. There is just no other way. I believe it was May Smith who said "The only place you find success before work is in the dictionary."
Larry Pacifico, arguably the greatest powerlifter of all time was once asked, "What is the secret to your great strength?" Pacifico fumed to his questioner in surprise that he had asked such an elementary question and replied. 'There is no secret. Hard work ... that's what it takes, there is nothing else. Hard work does it every time.
SOME KEYS TO SUCCESS
* Don't waste your time looking for shortcuts. Get it in your mind right now that in life there is no free ride.
* If you want to be great expect to work hard and long. Nothing worth having in life comes easy.
* Focus on what you're doing. Don't worry about the past or the future. Only the moment counts.
* Every day do something that will get you a little closer to your goals.
* Get a training log (preferably the one I published) and record your workouts as you perform them.
* Roll your sleeves up and get to work. It is the only way to reach stardom.
Yours in strength,