If you’re reading this, you are probably as competitive as I expect you to be and you’re probably going to frown at some of my suggestions! Trust me; I get it. I am one of the most competitive people I know and even writing this I was getting sassy with myself, but I digress. In my opinion, there are specific tasks post-competition that will help you not only build longevity into your mindset and body, but also maintain a positive mindset going into another competition, or off-season. Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of keeping the engine revving on a red line post-competition because hey, let’s face it; it is tough to come down from that competitive high.
I find that both extremely great results or bad ones always lead the lifter to want to hit the gym running about a week after the comp. Of course, there are some of us who have felt our age or have grown in certain ways and stick to what the literature says about giving your body time off, and if you are one of those, then I hope this is a refresher course. For my other wild animals who can’t wait to hit a deadlift max 1-2 weeks after the comp, I have composed a list of to-do’s that may keep that mental and physical fire burning. I’ll be honest, many of these have been not only told to me by amazing coaches, but have also been forced on my body by making poor personal mistakes.
Keep in mind that everyone is different and the timeline of how long these ideas should be applied depends not only on the person’s lifting age, but also the sport being performed. To even things out, I biased this list towards the most common physical and mental mistakes I have seen not only in myself, great athletes but the general competitive population as a whole.
PUT TIME IN
Unfortunately, this is not what you think it is. Putting time into the sport you love is very important, but that takes sacrifices. The time, money and passion you are putting into what you “love” to do are being pulled from somewhere else. That “somewhere else” is typically your family, friends and personal goals outside of your sport. Of course, this is what it takes to reach the top of the mountain, but anyone at the peak of their game will tell you about the critical nature of balance during your off-season. The same friends, family, or even puppy that were there to cheer you along and send you those ‘heart’ DM’s is going to need some of your time back after your competition. Take these next few weeks to go out to dinner with your loved ones, go to a friends birthday party, or take your dog for a long walk around the lake. This isn’t a sob story about how you need to take time off your sport and to be more caring blah blah blah but rather, the absolute importance and results that stem from having a symbiotic relationship with those around you – your loved ones.
LET IT GO
Whether you dominated the competition, shit the bed or performed as expected, it is essential that you can let it go. I am not telling you to forget it, to destroy the memory of a fantastic competitive campaign, but rather to learn to place it on the back burner. I have seen too many accounts, myself included, where lifters cannot leave the competition mentally, and this often leads to abysmal decisions during the off-season. Whether it’s the heartbreak of a loss, the vengeance of losing to a rival, or the smugness of being a champion, a lifter has to take this with a grain of salt as they can blur the lines of excellent off-season programming or one that will wreck their body going forward. Take a few weeks to assess your performance objectively, or talk to your coach openly about what needs to be done. Make sure these questions and insight is not being driven by emotion and having let go of your performance highs and lows. More often than not, letting go of past performances emotionally can lead to proper programming for the future with less emphasis on emotionally driven training that can destroy an athlete.
TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS
Seriously, fucking stop it. Yes, we all get that you are highly motivated and going back to the gym to train hard partly describes your life and your ambition. It is also evident that going back to the gym early to train hard so quickly after a competition is often because of anxieties, or the inability to remain disciplined. How did I drop that line on you? Because I used to be guilty of this. Many times I needed to get back in the gym because I did not want to come off the high of being motivated to diet, lift heavy and give off the energy that I was preparing for something big. I get it, it is tough to be driving a Corvette at a 100 miles an hour and then being asked to drive a reliable yet much slower 2001 forest green accord. Most of the scientific evidence and experienced strength athletes will tell you it can take weeks for the body to recover after not only real competition but the months of work before it. I am not referring to bodybuilding where the metabolic and neuro decay rate is at a much different scale. For the strength athlete, the rest that we need is not always easy to feel but often rears its ugly head weeks into performance and or, with a nasty injury. Ease your foot off the pedal and take this time to let your body repair both physically and mentally. When your body and mind are going at a slower rate, it gives us the opportunity to dive deeper into our strengths and weaknesses. This takes DISCIPLINE. The discipline to slow down, take time off and reboot vastly supersedes any discipline you think it takes to get up and hit the gym. I learned this the hard way with a spine injury and was able to recover due to Brian’s insistence on the discipline of taking time off. It paid off big time, and it was something I will never forget. Take time to consider the last few sentences heavily.
As I said, some of these might rub some of you the wrong way not because we can’t apply them, but because we think we have been already. Hey, maybe some of you are, but if you are that person that just finished a meet and bounces back to heavy barbell, or implement work within two weeks of competing because this is “your grind,” then you need to tattoo these to your soul. Taking the time to mend the body, the mind and the connections with those around you will breed consistent habits that will have you in the game much longer and expose those around you to a great example of discipline and longevity.
“Never Stray from The Way”