Hail To The King

*The title of this post was taken from the Avenged Sevenfold song of the same name*

Last week, as Alex was preparing to hit a new max on the traplift (315×5), he was getting some extra motivation from John G. who is currently the strongest man in RevFit with his squat (300×5 lbs) and traplift (440×3 lbs) maxes. Someone (maybe me) mentioned that John could serve as his inspiration.

Alex, respectfully, said that John is great and all but Richard is the inspiration.

And if you have followed me for any length of time, you will know why this is.

Richard (“King Richard”) is our legendary 77-year young wonder.

Rather than rehash the details of Richard’s time here, I would reference you back to an article I wrote some time ago about how we met and what he has accomplished. You can read those things here.

What I would like to cover is a portion of how Richard’s training has evolved.

If you read the previous article, you’ll note that we worked on Richard’s traplift for quite some time. I used a lifting protocol called 5/3/1 (courtesy of Jim Wendler) to get Richard to a new max each month. His high after several months of dedicated training was 240 lbs for 3 reps.

We were preparing to get him to 250 lbs and he hit a wall. He just didn’t feel like he could push to a new high.

So, I decided to pull away from the maxes and just get Richard to lift lighter weights for more reps and get more volume in.

We backed him down all the way to 155 lbs and worked for 2 sets of 10. The next week, 160 lbs for 2 sets of 10. Followed by consecutive weeks of 165, 170, 175 at the same pace.

Then I switched his schemes up again and had him back down 155 lbs for 5 sets of 5, the following week for 160 for 5 sets of 5. Each week we followed this pattern until he was at 195 for 5 sets of 5.

At any given week, if Richard said he wasn’t feeling great. We would ditch the traplift altogether and wait until the following week.

Then we dropped his weight down again and went 150 for 3 sets of 10, followed by 155, 160, etc.

All of these changes were happening throughout the span of over a year and a half. I would continue to tinker with his set and rep schemes and kept him below 200lbs for many, many months.

Then I started pushing him up again. We’d scale up with sub-maximal weights in sets of 3 reps. Then Richard was easing past the 200lb mark again with ease.

And last week, he hit a new PR of 265×3.

Did I mention, he’s 77?

So, what does this all mean?

Maybe a lot.

Richard, for one, is extremely patient. He’s never chasing a goal when he’s in the gym. He puts his time in, we work on a lot of different things but each week (unless he doesn’t feel up to it) the traplift makes it’s appearance.

It’s not just about getting stronger. Over the last nearly two years that I’ve worked with him, Richard is seeing increases in most everything he does: an extra rep here, some extra pounds there, it adds up.

Most importantly, he knows to listen to his body and tell me if things aren’t up to snuff. It helps me to decide when to push and when to pull back.

It’s the same with Alex, John, and anyone else who’s aiming to see their numbers go up on some of these more physically taxing exercises.

Let me not leave out some incredibly strong ladies we have who are inspiring in their own right, like Megan W. with a max squat  at 180×3, Aly S. with a max traplift at 225×3 and Deb A. with a max bench at 120×2 (among many others.)

Not too shabby for a fitness facility that doesn’t specialize in competitive powerlifting.

Honestly, no matter what goal you’re chasing: higher maxes on lifts, lower body weight on the scale, etc. these things take time and patience. Success is rarely linear.

And just like with Richard, sometimes you have to step back for a while and get more comfortable in certain areas to reach new heights. It’s not glamorous, it’s not flashy.

But it works.

Hail to the “King.”

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