MIND/BODY CONNECTION

Grinders

Randall Strossen

Train your mind to grind out gains

Page 1

The iron game has a dirty little secret—it’s the real key to most people’s progress. It alone will transform a bag of bones or a tub of lard into something approaching an authentic husky. The secret isn’t anything illegal, and it isn’t linked in any obvious way to your DNA patterns. For all its wondrous benefits, there’s no place you can buy more of it. It is, however, equally available to all, and it’s just as useful whether you’re a lifter or a bodybuilder. In fact, it transfers extremely well to all parts of your life. If you could put it in a bottle, you might think of it as something that enhances good fortune because the results that follow are nearly always positive and often so stunning that you would think the stuff should be banned.

We call the secret “grinders.”

To back up a little, it’s no secret that the movements that produce the most dramatic gains are the time-honored basic lifts. They’re done with free weights, the poundages are substantial, and they’re the types of exercises on which making your eyeballs pop out leads to another rep or two or 10. And that’s the essence—you grind out more than you comfortably can; you stretch beyond what’s easy; you stick doggedly with it way beyond what most people would consider reasonable. Grinders call for having a quit switch that’s set somewhere around the red line.

Grinders aren’t flashy, they’re never fashionable, and most people avoid them like the plague. Sure, they work like nothing else on earth, but at a price: You pay for grinders in the currency of hard work. If you want to succeed, you might as well learn about grinders as soon as possible so you can reap the benefits.

Consider the average person who lifts weights. For starters, he or she probably chooses a gym for all the wrong reasons. Maybe the aerobics class looks good, or all the machines are strictly the latest generation; maybe the color scheme makes it easier to coordinate training clothes. Once in the gym the person picks a training routine that offers the course of least resistance: lots of machine work; most movements done sitting down; training frequency and intensity reduced; multijoint, basic movements avoided. That’s not a good attitude for grinders.

Grinders tend to fit in places that are a bit primitive. It might be that primitive surroundings inspire brutal efforts, but at least your focus is locked on the rep you’re struggling to complete, not the color or condition of the vinyl. One of the most famous lifting gyms in the U.S. had holes in the floor and a locker room that was so disgusting, the municipal health department told the owner to redo the whole thing or be shut down. The lifters barely noticed the surroundings, and nothing they saw deterred them from training there. Down the street was a slick gym with a nice this and an even nicer that; the lifters there were strictly local and regional level. The lifters from the first gym frequented the Olympics and the world championships.

One of the best setups I’ve ever seen for grinders was in China. World-record holders, world champions and Olympic champions were more common there than 300-pound bench pressers in any chain gym. How could athletes of that caliber be expected to produce their world-class results in anything less than a world-class environment, right?

Consider the facts: For starters, the squat racks were the old-fashioned design that looks something like a pair of barstools. Many were made from wood, none were adjustable, and they were the wrong height for almost everyone. Short lifters had to pile up plates on the platform, under the bar, so they could reach it. Tall lifters had to stack plates on top of the rack and then balance the barbell on the stack to raise the bar enough to get under it. Some put plates under the legs of the racks to prop up the whole affair. The things were shaky at best, and more than once the bar fell off the racks or lifters nearly ate it going up and down from their improvised step under the bar. Even though the local lifters kept the lifting area neat and tidy, rats greeted me in the bathroom—not exactly an advertiser’s dream. Nonetheless, there was nary a whimper from the lifters.


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Young Jedi of Nutrition

Ron Harris

Young Jedi of Nutrition

In the Internet age, word spreads lightning-fast. In less than two years Justin Harris has gained a loyal following and earned a reputation as a man who can get anybody in shape. Just 26 years old and himself a national-level superheavyweight competitor, Harris has amassed a stable of athletes who have been consistently showing up shredded, from first-timers competing in local shows to seasoned veterans at the national level vying for professional status.

Histrionics Don’t Help

Randall Strossen, Ph.D.

Histrionics Don’t Help

Some years ago I trained in a gym that had a front room for the (big, carpeted, filled with machines and mirrors), a side room for the aerobics classes (spacious, light and airy) and a back room for the weightlifters (small, dank and stuffed with three lifting platforms). The front room was all spit and polish, and the gym owner was always doing one of two things: vacuuming the rug or polishing the mirrors. Occasionally he did a third thing: cursing whoever had sneaked in the chalk and sullied his janitorial jewel. By contrast, the back room was unkempt and always smelled of Tiger Balm or dirty socks, and if you’d forgotten your T-shirt or sweats, you could probably find something on the floor that would fit. As you might guess, people often dressed up to use the front room or the side room, but dressing down would have been more appropriate for the back room.

Muscle “In” Sites

Eric Broser’s

Muscle “In” Sites

If you find something on the Web that IM readers should know about, send the URL to Eric at bodyfx2@aol.com.

www.AmyLeeMartin.com

More than 100 ladies hold IFBB pro cards for figure, each with a beautiful look all her own. Of all the women I’ve reviewed in this column, however, I have to say that Amy Lee Martin fits the description of the “beautiful girl next door” more perfectly than any. With her blond hair, captivating blue eyes and engaging smile, she can grab your attention and have you wishing you could take her home to meet your mother—just ask her husband, Doug.

Cough Off

Becky Holman

Cough Off

According to the Bottom Line Health newsletter, “a compound found in cocoa was more effective at calming coughs than codeine, the active ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription cough medicines.”

Advice: When you have a cough, instead of rushing for a drug-laced cough syrup, you may want to try a cup of hot chocolate first—and do your darnedest not to cough when you’re sipping it.

www.X-tremeLean.com

The Content Life

Becky Holman

The Content Life

In the February ’06 Prevention, Martin E.P. Leligman, Ph.D., reveals the three routes to achieving happiness:

“One is the pleasant life, full of pleasure, joy and good times. The second is the engaged life, in which you lose yourself in some passion or activity, experiencing what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., calls flow. And the third is the meaningful life: It may not have many high moments or blissful immersions, but it is packed with purpose.”

Advice: Find something you’re passionate about, pursue it, and share it with others. You’ll be a happier person.

www.X-tremeLean.com