Q&A from the Blog Squad
The following is a collection of questions from Carter, Mark, and Austin that hopefully shed some light on what I bring to Jochum Strength. The main themes throughout this are mindset, struggle, and growing from your experiences. Enjoy!
1. How do you, and your athletes, stay motivated in a sport that requires long term commitment, and yet provides small relative growth? For example, it could take three years to take your max squat from 700 to 710lbs.
Mindset is a huge thing in powerlifting. It may sound odd but it’s quite common that dark events and down times in life truly cultivate who you are. I was “fortunate” to go through many of these times throughout my life. That is where your mindset is born, but you need to continue to feed it, cultivate it; shape it into what you want it to reflect. In lifting, I truly believe that many people have not learned to push themselves nearly hard enough. They see results and they think they are working hard enough. Then they stop seeing results and they blame external factors. It’s cyclical. But, powerlifting requires great discipline. Living a healthy lifestyle, consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and recovering adequately all require great discipline. Yet to truly be committed to something you need to fall in love with it – you need to fall in love with the process. I know that sounds cliché but the young 16-year olds you see deadlifting 700 lbs on Instagram fall into two categories. The first, being realistic to some degree, relies on performance enhancing drugs. However, the second, where I believe the true beauty lies, is the FACT that they have been working for YEARS already. They’ve probably been a closest psychopath for 4 years, inhaling ammonia before they could even legally drive a car. The beauty of it is, they have fallen deeply in love with the pursuit of their goals, with self-betterment, and stoke a fire deep in their belly to compete with the best.
I personally have fallen in love with helping others in fitness. I want others to succeed. I am a proud psychopath who screams after hitting PR’s and will black out for a set if it requires it. I am not here on this earth to half-ass anything. I try to instill that fire into my community. When I train with others, I want to push them to their limits – not to hurt them, but to show them how much harder they can go. Through this process, it weeds out those uncommitted to the long haul. Granted, there are multiple frustrating conversations to be had during stalls of progress, bouts of sickness, and poor recovery weeks. Yet though those down times, my mindset fuels itself from struggle. And adding increasingly smaller poundages to your total each block, month, or year in a world filled with social media pages posting PR’s on PR’s surely increases frustration and personal struggle.
1) Mindset – Fall in love with your goals and most importantly, self-betterment.
2) Discipline – It is okay to be a psychopath. You control your priorities in your life. Don’t half ass anything.
3) Fuel the Fire – Find your fuel. It gets cold in the winter.
2. How do you build representative environments for your athletes to try and expose them to similar stimuli they will experience on meet day?
Mock meets or SBD [Squat, Bench, and Deadlift] days can be used to mimic the amount of training stress they could experience in a meet. Some of the more difficult factors to control like nervousness, pre-meet recovery, competitive drive, can really only be tested in a meet so it is very beneficial for an athlete to test out a local meet without expectations (or limited ones) that could be causing them to be nervous or cause them to perform differently. Being in a meet environment is much different than most gyms can provide. It is also difficult to subject an athlete to a complete visualization with competition equipment and procedure due to the unique nature of a competition in comparison to how most newer athletes train. Nevertheless, utilizing SBD days to mimic meet-day training stress or encouraging the athlete to enter a meet without expectations and to gain experience is what I would suggest. 3. What’s the mental process like for limited opportunities you get to perform a lift in competition? How do you handle the pressure of not messing up on 2 or 3 chances to pull a weight?
I get pretty bad anxiety on meet day. It is very hard for me to consume solid food after weigh-ins. This usually lasts throughout the early morning and into my squat warm-ups. Many powerlifters attribute their early nervousness to the chance of absolute failure in a meet. That roadblock remains until you absolutely bury your opening squat and get your name on the scoreboard. Two or three white lights – it doesn’t matter. The lift passed. Now it is time to set some new records. However, it doesn’t always go that way. In the weeks leading up to the meet, a lifter and their coach will develop some form of attempt selection plan. Usually, that plan skips over failing your opener…dealing with anxiety can become an absolute monster if something like that happens. To combat this, a solid plan and significant confidence in your abilities is crucial. They say, “squat for a total and deadlift for the win.” Get solid numbers on the board, eliminate your anxiety, and have fun.
To round out the question, there have been significant experiences where I have missed a lift and had to retake it. Missing for commands makes you feel quite frustrated while missing a second attempt due to strength breeds anxiety. You will mess up. Its tough to have a perfect meet. Something almost always goes wrong, and I think that it is very important to try to have some contingency build into your preparation. Throughout training, will yourself to win. Never miss twice and build your training so that you always win. Fuel your fire and never lose.
4. What’s one life lesson that the sport of powerlifting has taught you?
You can work way harder than you have ever thought possible. And then you can work even harder. And then you can bleed out your nose from bracing too hard. That about sums it up.
I would also say that it has helped me to really grow and cultivate my mindset, “time to bleed”, which I talked about in a previous article here on the blog.
5. What are your keys to recovery and maintaining your health during such a demanding sport/training?
Again, I feel oddly “fortunate” to have broken myself and experienced many setbacks throughout my time clanging weights. I have learned many things about recovery, stretching, and soft tissue work. Some of my current favorites are Smooth Panther Stretching on YT by Nsima Inyang and muscle fascia scraping.
My top three keys would be:
1) Adequate Sleep and Stress Management
2) Stretching and Warm-Ups
3) Hydration and Supplementation
6. “You start raising a child 100 years before it’s born because that’s when you start building the environment in which it’ll live in.” How does this quote apply to your training and powerlifting?
I got into powerlifting purely through the love of strength training. I wanted to push myself harder and become stronger. When I graduated from high school, I was new to lifting and had recently gained some size. I lifted because I wanted people to notice me. It was about faux self-confidence and reassurance. Wrestling and football were over with and I was onto the next chapter of my life. College. I was weighing about 170 lbs at 7% bf. I didn’t squat much; it was all ego deadlifts and upper body. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on a train wreck trajectory. I wasn’t taking care of my body nor my mental health. I crashed. I needed a better attitude, a sustainable fuel source, community, and patience. Yet, that’s the beauty of my mindset, it feeds of the struggles and dark times I have been through. I turned self-resentment of my body and a brittle ego into true self-confidence, self-assurance, and a genuine drive to improve. From my need for community, Tommie Strength was born in my sophomore year of college at UST. I learned an incredibly amount from sharing my experiences to people unknowingly about to experience similar things that I went through. I believe that through fostering a proper mindset and learning about myself in my most raw form allowed me to evaluate the environment I was building for my future. I took absolute responsibility for all things within my control and I became the architect for my future.
With my environment now in control, I could focus on crushing goals. I became even more disciplined than before, I pushed myself even harder lifting, and I practiced self-awareness. Now, I can reflect on those years spend building the environment I currently inhabit, and I thank myself. But I am not done yet. It is a forever journey. I will continue to raise my goals, setting my sights on the next thing. Currently it is a national record bench press and a 700lb deadlift at 220lbs. I take time for myself. I hold myself to a high standard of excellence, which, at times I do not measure up to. I can get held up over it, but I do not hold my face over the coals because of it. Each day I focus on what I can control, and I aim to perform to the best of my abilities to foster the environment of success - because that’s where I want to live.
About the author:
Logan, 23, is currently a graduate student at the University of Dayton studying Aerospace Engineering and competes in drug-tested powerlifting in USPA/USAPL @ 220lbs/231lbs. He enjoys coaching powerlifting and helping people kick start their fitness careers. Check him out @schollafitness on instagram. He has his sights currently set on Ohio State Championships in April 2021 where he plans on competing for the junior national bench press record and possible total record as well, along the way taking numerous Ohio junior records.