Having worked with a client in a gym on Thursday and then done a session of my own, I got into a conversation with a personal trainer about what I do. I still find it hard to explain from time to time.

“Imagine you have a 500 brake horsepower car that is only putting out 200. Many people, recognising this loss of power, will go and buy a larger engine or throw some nitrous oxide tanks in. They add power on top of a sub-optimally functioning car. I don't do that. I get the car functioning more like it was originally intended to do. I clean up what it already has to improve its power. Putting extra power on top of well-organised power will take your car to places you'd never dreamed of.”

He got it.

Just before we spoke, I had just decided to test my one rep max (for anybody who doesn't lift weights, this is the maximal weight you can lift just once) back squat. Around two years ago, he had witnessed me lifting 170kg once. At this time, I was lifting weights six or seven days a week – I was extremely well prepared. Since then, the most I've lifted is 150kg.

This year, I have trained on average once a week. My training has not been organised like a training plan should be. My fitness is nowhere near what is was but my posture and movement are better from the work I have been doing over the past two years. I have been concentrating less on souping up my engine and more on getting my car working efficiently.

With very little training and very little in the way of a conventional warm-up, I stepped under the bar and easily squatted 150kg. The PT and the guy who owned the gym said I could have done more. I probably could have done 160. That would mean I have 94% of my previous maximal strength having only trained around 15% of my old volume. I like those ratios.

'Souping up your engine' without functioning well works to a certain extent but will often leave you broken down or robbed of your top speed. It doesn't matter how good your car is if it's broken down and you can't race it.

I think strength, speed, power and agility can all be better improved through 'sorting out our car' than 'souping up the engine'. If you function well, then conventional training will compound the effects.

You are more powerful than you know. Just tune up before you soup up.

 

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 Tuning up your athletic engine is a better way to improving strength, speed and agility than souping up an inefficient vehicle.

Tuning up your athletic engine is a better way to improving strength, speed and agility than souping up an inefficient vehicle.