The Gifted, and The Rest of Us

We all know the type. The type of people that everything comes easy
to. Yeah, those people. I am not one of those people. For
instance, I was always awful at math when I was growing up. In fact,
I had to take math in summer school my senior year just to graduate.
I would hang in there for the first few weeks or so of each semester,
and then I would get behind in the teaching and there was no catching
up. I felt awfully stupid in math. Once I would lose my way in class,
I would bring in reading material, usually a sports or muscle
magazine. Everyone else would be working feverishly on their Algebra
problems, and I would be reading about how Mike Mentzer built his

I received straight Fs
in math all through junior high school and high school. It wasn’t
until that senior summer school year that I realized that in order to
understand math, I had to work twice as hard as everyone else. I had
to work that hard in order to just be decent at it. It was a eureka
moment for me. It hit me that I wasn’t a natural in math like some
others. And once I really buckled down, once I made myself just work
on it and keep working on it, spending a few hours each night
learning it, I made progress and actually began to enjoy math.
Believe it or not, I actually got a B in that summer school class.

I have seen it in
athletics. When I coached defensive line at Gardner-Webb University
in 1994, I coached a defensive end, Gabe Wilkins. He was 6’5″ and
over 300 pounds. He was a natural freak. He worked hard on the field
and in the weight room, but his genetics gave him a little head
start. He used to go over to guys who were dumbbell bench pressing
some heavy weights and he’d take the weights from them and begin
curling them. I could say to him in practice, “Gabe, run over that
guy,” and he could do it, no problem.

Pro scouts were coming
from far and wide to see Big Gabe. He was impressive. A Cleveland
Browns scout came and timed him in the 40-yard sprint on grass and
Gabe ran a 4.69, weighing 304 pounds. He’d had no coaching in running
the 40, didn’t work on perfecting his start or anything like that.
We stood there with our mouths open, double checking our stopwatches
and amazed by what we had just seen. He ended up starting on the
Green Bay Packers a few years later.

It’s the same in
strength training. I can remember when I was a freshman in high
school and there were seniors benching 315. I couldn’t wait to get
that old and be that strong. It never happened in high school. In my
haste to bench big weights, I benched too often and with terrible
form. All I got out of all that benching was a bad case of biceps
tendinitis. But I worked at it, studied it and my bench press
improved, although it never felt like a natural movement for me.

For others, it was a
different story. I remember when I first got to Gardner-Webb
University to play football in 1987, and we were testing our bench
max. There was a linebacker who was around 6’1″ and 245 pounds. Big
old arms like balloons. I believe that he benched close to 500 that
day, and he did it without breaking a sweat or acting like he was
worried one bit about making or missing the weight. Meanwhile, I was
over there struggling to bench 385 and he was warming up with 405 for
reps. I saw the same guy come in anytime that he wanted, and with
little or no warm up bench press 405 pounds. He would be laughing and
joking and then find a bench with 315 on it where someone else was
benching and slap a 45 on each side and rep it out, all the while
joking around. I wanted to choke him.

I was in the Maryland
Athletic Club one Monday evening in the late 90s and Kirk
Karwoski, another gifted strength athlete, was in there. We were
friends, so I went over and we began talking. He was retired from
powerlifting at the time, and he seemed much more relaxed than when
he was competing. He wasn’t acting like the Tasmanian Devil,
stomping around. He was smiling and friendly.

I noticed that there
was 585 pounds on the bar on the squat rack behind him. We were
telling stories and laughing and Kirk held up one finger and said,
“Gimme a minute here.” He then turned around, wearing only shorts
and a t-shirt, and squatted the weight 5 times. Then he put the bar
back on the rack and turned around to continue our conversation. I
remember his training partner saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice to squat
585 that easily, and so nonchalantly, anytime you wanted to?”

My former boss, Dr. Rob
Wagner at the University of Pennsylvania had some natural strength
talent. The first time that he ever deadlifted, which was as a
freshman in high school, he pulled 500 pounds. He was a world record
squatter (799 at 198) and a frequent winner in the squat at the IPF
Worlds. His squat stance was super close, inside shoulder width, and
he squatted dive bomb style; super fast. He would just drop down at
the start of the squat and rebound out of it. I saw him squat over
700 pounds numerous times at 198 pounds, and at 181 squat over 700 in
training and in meets.

He worked hard, don’t
get me wrong. But along with Karwoski, Wagner is the most natural
squatter that I have ever been around. I don’t think I ever saw him
miss a squat or really struggle during a set. I outweighed him by
almost 100 pounds at times back then, and it was truly humbling when
we were training partners and I was squatting in the mid 700s and
he was lifting more than I was at such a light bodyweight.

You may not be a
natural at lifting, at getting strong right away. That’s OK, don’t
worry about it. Because one of the great things about lifting weights
is that everyone can get stronger. With consistency, good
programming, proper nutrition, rest, and having the wherewithal to
make changes when needed, you can get strong. In fact, you can get
very strong. Keep plugging along, don’t miss training
sessions, and you will get there.

Or you may struggle
with one of the lifts that doesn’t feel natural to you. Everyone, I
think, has a lift that they struggle with. The deadlift always felt
comfortable to me, while I had to really break down the squat and
bench press in order to make progress. Think about it: which of the
Big 3 (squat, bench press, and deadlift) feels most natural for you
to perform? Get that lift as strong as possible by all means, but
don’t neglect those trouble lifts and don’t give up on them. You
may need to put your ego aside and drop the weights down some or
perfect your form. You could also train with someone who is much
stronger at the lift than you are to push yourself to bigger weights.

Training with weights
favors naturally strong folks, for sure. However, take heart; I have
seen plenty of people pass by the more gifted trainee on not much
more than dedication and perseverance. Weight training rewards those
two attributes mightily.

Credit : Source Post

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Shopping cart