Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Secrets That Bring Success - By Jim Duggan

     The Spring of 1953 was a significant time in America.  Dwight Eisenhower was several months into his presidency.  The New York Yankees were embarking on what would be their fifth consecutive world championship.  And in May of that year, Strength and Health magazine would put out an issue that that would have to rank among the very best ever published.

     A casual glance at the Table of Contents provides a glimpse of the vast amount of useful information contained within the pages of this particular issue.  “Training for the Squat Clean and Press,” “Basic Exercises are Musts,” “Improve Your Pressing Power,” are just a few of the gems offered for the perusal of the readers of Bob Hoffman’s flagship magazine.  My personal favorite article was written by John Grimek, “Secrets That Bring Success.”  

     In his article, Mr. Grimek makes it very clear that there are no secrets to lifting and building muscle, per se.  There are no secret exercises or training routines.  But there are, indeed, “secrets” when it comes to making progress and getting results.  Mr. Grimek mentions three secrets.  Persistence, Exercise Knowledge, and Mental Aspects of exercise.  “If ever there were any secrets in this game, there you have the three essentials, the application of which may mean the difference between success and failure.”

     Persistence is something that I’ve written about before.  Back in October 2016 I wrote an article titled “The Power of Persistence in Training.”  Persistence is one of the best qualities that any lifter can possess.  Especially for those just starting out in the Iron Game.  Progressive effort and hard work are crucial, yet at the same time it is important to recognize the signs of staleness, and to know when it is time to give your body time to recuperate.  This is especially important for drug-free lifters.

     “The knowledge of exercise properly applied” can have several meanings.  Applying one’s knowledge means to know your body and what works for you and, more importantly, what doesn’t.  Nobody knows your body like you do.  This is why it is so important to not try to imitate or copy other lifters.  Exercises or programs that work for some people may not necessarily work for you.  Determining the most effective training method is crucial for anyone who works out.  However, it is especially important to recognize when enough is enough and avoid overtraining.  Again, as drug-free lifters, we must avoid doing too much.  Sometimes it’s wiser to train smarter, not harder.  

     The last secret, “mental attitude,” is the least understood of the three mentioned in the original article from 1953.  It is often considered unimportant to most lifters, and therefore it is often overlooked by many people who would otherwise benefit from such advice.

     “If your mental attitude is definite and cheery, success can be achieved faster and with greater certainty than if your outlook is pessimistic and dull.”  I don’t think that Mr. Grimek meant that we should walk around the gym with a perpetual smile and whistling a happy tune all the time, but you should definitely be optimistic and expect success.  Naturally, it’s easier to be optimistic when your training is going well.  This is where persistence and a well-planned routine will be of great benefit.  When your workouts are going well, then it should be easy to have a positive mental attitude.     

     “Keep in mind your goal and always aim to achieve the pinnacle of success.”  In other words, keep your eyes on the prize.  Don’t lose sight of the reason you’re hoisting the steel.  Are you looking to gain muscle mass?  Are you trying to increase your lifts?  Never forget what you’re trying to accomplish.  Picture yourself being successful.  Then put forth the physical effort to achieve your goals.

     Obviously, your goals have to be realistic.  And just as obviously, as drug-free lifters, we have to be sensible.  Don’t try to emulate some steroid-bloated freak that you saw on Youtube.  If you are currently capable of a 300 Lb squat, it would be foolish to focus on 600 Lbs initially.  Work your way up to setting- and achieving- more reasonable goals.  Try to work up to 350 Lbs, then set your sights on 400 Lbs, and continue to keep your goals manageable.  It may sound trite, but slow and steady wins the race.  By setting small, realistic goals, you will be able to make consistent progress whie at the same time staying focused on the bigger picture.  As you keep working towards your goals, your confidence will increase and your chances of success will greatly improve.  Ambitious goals, combined with hard work, will keep you forging ahead and provide you with stronger motivation.  

     Towards the end of the article, the Monarch of Muscledom gave some timeless advice.  “Let me assure you, outside of the qualities I mentioned earlier in the article, there aren’t any super-secret exercises to produce miraculous results overnight.  One thing is true however, certain exercises are more favorable to some than others, primarily due to leverage and structure, but anything more than that is self-inflicted.”

     Yes, there are secrets in the Iron Game, but they don’t come in the form of a particular exercise or new piece of equipment.  Rather, it means that you must apply your knowledge to your advantage.  “Let your mental attitude be a force towards success and achievement.  It can be yours if you WANT to succeed.  Wise advice from the most legendary Iron Game figure of the twentieth century. 





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