Recently I decided to really narrow my focus towards a specific goal in the gym. That goal was to compete in the Scottish Highland Games to the best of my ability. To do that I decided that I would have to streamline my training to a few specific things to be done in conjunction with Games practice itself, which is rather unique given the odd implements. The other part of that was to gain about 20 lbs. Why the weight you ask? Well as Highland Games World Champion Larry Brock once so eloquently stated, “Mass moves mass”.
Now you also might be asking why I might want to do all of this in the first place. I would say two things; 1. Because to me, the Games are a brand new sport and challenge. 2. And probably most relevant, I am still competitive at 31. I can’t help it. Yes I have raced the girl I was dating on an agility ladder multiple times because for some reason she thought she was faster than me. She knows better now. Yes I have been accused of trying too hard and being a gym hero in the “old man beer league” as I like to call it, hockey league I currently play in. However, the gym hero to me is the guy that looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane. Not to be confused with the guy scoring goals and making your team look bad. Besides, after the weight gain I’m no Tarzan.
The end result was that I accomplished my goal. I performed to the level I had hoped, achieving some Personal Records and somehow placing 1st overall in two competitions. As happy as I am about the result it is also satisfying knowing that I was able to decide what I wanted and work toward it each day. As far as training, that meant I kept what was most important in the gym, plus the specific events practice. Likewise, I threw out other things I didn’t need such as any cardiovascular training, other than farmers walks, which are in fact brutal conditioning. Much like in other sports I analyzed the work to rest ratios required in Highland Games. I figured I would perform approximately 30-33 reps in an 8-9 hour period. Not much conditioning required, so I trained accordingly. Lastly, I frequently ate myself into a food coma and at long last gained the 20 lbs to see the scale tip at 250 lbs for the first and likely only time in my life. Now I can’t say for sure which exactly had the biggest impact on my performance, the practice, the gym time, or the weight gain but I feel they all contributed.
Now the main point. I don’t care what your goals are (not because I don’t like you, but because they are your goals, not mine). It may be to feel and move better 20 years from now. Maybe your goal is to simply look and feel better now. It could be that you want to regain some athleticism from your youth while losing a few pounds. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it’s just to have a bigger butt. All of these are fine goals. The point is I think having them is important regardless of what they are. Think about what it is you really want. What is going to make you happy and how are you going to get there? Having something to work toward and a focus each day in your training will help. It doesn’t matter that the person training next to you might want something a little different. Stay focused on where you want to go no matter what it may be, shorter term performance based or longevity and health.
– Mike Baltren