Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Importance of Concentration - By Jim Duggan

One of the most prolific- and talented- writers ever to grace the pages of any muscle magazine was John McCallum. His "Keys to Progress" series appeared in "Strength and Health" magazine from 1965 to 1972. It was an extremely popular feature, and his articles had a positive influence on countless thousands of trainees. Although I was too young to be able to enjoy his writing during its original run- I was born in 1964- I have been able to benefit from John's words, thanks to the foresight of Ironmind Enterprises, Inc., which compiled his articles in a book. "The Complete Keys to Progress" is one of the finest books on training ever published. If you have not done so already, do yourself a tremendous favor and order a copy today.

Of course, when I refer to training, I mean sensible, productive, no-nonsense training. Certainly not the type of useless misinformation found in any of the "muscle comics" available at most newsstands. Common sense is timeless. It is also, I am sad to say, not very common at all. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of some of the best training articles ever written, you can't let it slip away.

There were about one hundred articles in the original Keys to Progress. The series covered everything from diet, to building bulk and power, to training for definition, and the all-time classic: Heavy breathing Squats. And while some articles may have become somewhat archaic (P.H.A. training, high protein-high set training), most of the information presented is as relevant today as it was nearly fifty years ago.

One of my favorite pieces was dedicated to the importance of concentration. Actually, he devoted three articles to the topic of concentration. One of his best quotes is as follows: " If you're not going to concentrate on your training, you may as well forget it." Which leads me to an amusing- or sad- incident that I had the pleasure of witnessing at the gym about a month ago. I was working out during the middle of the day. Now, the gym where I train has a Power Rack and two Squat Racks, all three are lined up side by side. On this particular day, all three pieces of equipment were being used at the same time. One trainee was doing standing Presses in the Power Rack, another was doing standing Presses in one of the Squat Racks, while the third guy was Squatting. The three trainees in question were all about twenty years-old or so. They were each about 5'10" - 6' tall, and they each looked to be around 200 Lbs..They were definitely not beginners. Which makes what I'm about to relate even more pathetic.

The guy who was doing standing presses in the Power Rack had the bar loaded to 95 Lbs.. The guy who was Squatting was using 135 Lbs..And last- and definitely least- the guy doing standing presses on the Squat Rack was using 75 Lbs.. Of course, they all used lifting belts to assist them in their massive poundages. But the other thing that they had in common, was that each one of them would pull out a cell phone and proceed to text after each and every set. Who or what they were texting is not important. How could they possibly be concentrating on their training? They were more concerned with playing with the phones than they were about lifting. And it showed. It's too bad that someone else couldn't take a picture of the distracted trio. The perfect caption would be: "This is why you are using baby weights!"

Now, in fairness, maybe all three of them are ER surgeons on call. But I doubt it. And the sad part is that they were not the only ones engaged in such nonsense. Go to any commercial gym and you will see the same sort of behavior. You'll be amazed. You will also become envious of every person who is lucky enough to lift in a garage or basement gym and thereby not have to be subjected to this sort of thing.

One of my favorite old quotes about lifting came from an old Soviet weightlifter from the 1970s. In response to a question about how he psyched himself up to lift heavy weights, he replied: "The weight must not be feared. It must fear you." Well, how is the weight ever going to fear you if you are not even paying attention to it?
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

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