A FUTURE CHAMPION?
I was resting between sets of Hack Squats when I noticed a kid on the platform practicing his Clean and Jerk. No heavy loads, just practicing form.
I’m no power lifting expert but as far as I could tell this kid’s form was near perfect.
As he increased the load on the bar his form never varied and never wavered. I admired his work ethic for a minute and went back to my own workout.
A little while later, I noticed the same kid beginning to work on the Dead Lift. Using the same routine he’d used on the Clean and Jerk, he worked steadily on form for multiple reps as he slowly increased the load on the bar. Again, I’m no power lifting expert but I do know a little about the dead lift and dead lift form. It’s my favorite lift. Maintaining strict form while doing multiple reps in the dead lift is an accomplishment in itself. Form almost always breaks down while doing the dead lift for reps. Not this kid.
I estimated the kid to be around 20 years old and about 170-175 pounds. So, as the load on the bar moved past 350 pounds ( 2x his body weight), I stopped what I was doing and watched. At 425 pounds (2.5 x his body weight) he did a set of 3 reps and his form was still near perfect!
He stopped at 425 pounds and started to unload the bar and rack his plates. I couldn’t resist. I approached to give him a hand and introduced myself. He said he was 20 years old and his weight was 177. I asked about his 1RM (one rep max). He replied that he hadn’t done a 1RM for about 5 weeks, choosing instead to groove his form. Few people, myself included, have that kind of discipline. And especially 20 year olds.
I told him his “calculated” 1RM would be in the range of 450 pounds. He said he was determined to not try a 1RM until he had worked on his form for another 3 weeks.
It is almost unheard to see a 20 year old working this hard on form unless he has a very, very strict coach. Most 20 year olds would be going for a new PR every week!
It takes a lot of dedication to work on form for weeks at a time and forgo the challenge of a new PR. He has a plan (and a good plan) and he’s sticking to it. As you lift heavier and heavier form gets harder and harder to maintain. The almost inevitable outcome of poor form is injury.
If he avoids serious injury, this kid has another 10 to 15 years of strength growth ahead of him.
I told him the dead lift was my favorite lift. He asked about my PR (Personal Record). I replied it was 505 pounds but that was 15 years ago on my 50th birthday.
“505 is pretty good for a 50 year old” he said.
“Not bad”, I replied. “But my weight at the time was 222.5 pounds (45.5 pounds more than his current weight) and I was carrying about 40 more pounds of lean muscle than I do now.”
“I’ll make you a deal”, I said. “Meet me back here in 30 years when you're 50 and we’ll go head to head”
He smiled.“So you’ll be 95?” he said.
He smiled even bigger and held out his hand. “Deal”, he said.
Today was a good day.
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