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Friday, September 28, 2012

A Year of Training at WST - By Michael Rhine

Originally posted on NaturalStrength.com on February 15, 2003

Bob, I wanted to write an E-mail thanking you for the last year at Whelan Strength Training.

As you know, I started off tipping the scales at a blob-like 320 pounds. I came to you wanting to lose fat and gain muscle. (Like a lot of people, I guess.) That was in early February of 2002, and since that time...sticking to your advice...I have dropped to a low weight of 275.

From where I started, dropping 45 pounds might not seem like much. Until I add that I have roughly doubled (or more) the poundage of all of my core exercises. So much for the "you can't lose fat and gain muscle at the same time" bit, right?

I can remember struggling to pump out a few reps at 180 pounds on the Hammer Strength Chest Press. At my last workout I did reps at 300 pounds for two sets.

I can remember having 0 -- yes, NOTHING -- on the Tru-Squat and not being able to finish my sets. My last workout was at 140 pounds, and I have gone as high as 165.

I can remember having 180 pounds on the Hammer Strength Deadlift. As a birthday "accomplishment", my last workout I got through 5 reps with 500 pounds loaded up. (I didn't think I was going to make it on that last rep, the encouragement you provide is key!)

I have learned a few important lessons in the time I have been working with you, Bob.

You know I keep records of my workout and non-workout days...how I feel, how much energy I have, how I am eating, my sleep hours, my mental state, and so on. Well, looking back over a year's worth, some clear patterns emerge. Here are four of the most important:

1. What I eat the day before my workout plays a huge role in my energy and strength levels. Keeping a log -- including energy and strength levels -- it becomes very easy to see what is working and what is not. If I didn't keep track of it, a low energy level might seem like "chance" or "just a fluke" instead of something I have done to myself, can take responsibility for, and can change.

2. I start thinking about my best workouts days ahead of time. I think about how I can't wait to rumble down the stairs of WST again, how strong I will feel as I get there, how every lift makes me feel stronger and more energetic, and how easy it will be and how great it will feel to break my records from the week before.

3. When I am lifting, it is important to "be here now." In other words, when it comes time to put my hands on the bar and lift a weight, it needs to be the only thing on my mind. Not the next set, or the next minute, or walking out the door. Think of a man in a life-or-death situation who has to act -- and act decisively -- in a 100% congruent manner to even have a chance of survival. That is the attitude that accompanies my best lifts. Literally nothing else exists for me at that time other than the weight and my will to overcome it.

4. There are moments in every workout where character is forged. Those moments where I think there is no strength left to do another rep, and still push through one more. Or when I do not feel good, am tired, or would rather be somewhere else...and still get through a workout and put every ounce of energy into it. In the beginning, there were many more "giving up" moments than there were "pushing through it" moments. And one of the most valuable things I have received in my time at WST is that pushing through pain, fatigue, or other distractions has become the norm. The kicker is, that benefit spreads throughout my entire life. Not just in the weight room.

Thanks for everything Bob. And here's looking at another year of you kicking my ass, and me loving it.

Michael Rhine Reston, VA

P.S. When I started at WST, I was wearing XXL or XXXL shirts. When clothes shopping, the thing I had to look out for was whether the shirt was big enough to accommodate my stomach. Nowadays, I still wear XXLs. But the problem is no longer my stomach. The shirts I used to wear when I was 320 -- and many XXL shirts now -- are loose around my stomach but look like I am wearing spandex on my shoulders and arms. Around the holidays, I even split the sleeve of what had been one of my favorites shirts because of how much muscle I have gained in my upper body. This is a good problem to have, I think. :-)


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