Planning: This could possibly be one of the most important factors of your training and is maybe one of the least utilized.  I think most of the top performers in athletics have a very detailed and comprehensive workout plan before they ever start training in a cycle.  This can be as detailed as including outside obligations and how they could affect training (i.e. vacations, work obligations), your diet and when and how you eat, and so forth.  They can also simply be a detailed plan of attack that you would call your workout.  I am not as well planned as many but, I have my workouts set from the day after a meet until the next one.  I leave enough flexibility within the plan to allow for good days and bad days and unexpected missed workouts.  I know exactly where I am going when I start and throw in testers along the way to insure I am on track or maybe I need to modify.  Point is that when I get to meet I know exactly where I am and all that is left is to do it (this is actually the easy part but, Murphy must rear his head and sometimes things don’t follow the prescribed plan).  The more variables you can eliminate the more control you can exert over your training.  This equates to more knowledge and that turns into better gains.   I think that a plan to reach a certain point in your training is needed.  Even if you don’t compete you should have your long term goals and short term ones.  The short term ones can be the evolution of your training plans.  Make the training regimen for each of these short term goals and then stick to it and achieve it.  If you come a little short then adjust your plan the next time around.  See what was working and implement that and also address were you are weak.  The more mini-cycles you get behind you the more feedback you can get about what is working for you.  This is more knowledge and we already know what that means.  You have to have some consistency to evaluate what your training is doing.  If you are changing your routine every month then you are constantly adding new variables and you can’t decipher all that information (unless of course you are “special”).  Simply put, get a plan and stick to it.  Modify what little things you need to along the way but, stick to the principles that work for you.  Once you are done then you can evaluate how it worked and see if you are accomplishing what you set out to do.
 An important point to remember when setting your honest (there is that ego thing again, pops up in the darndest of places, eh?) with what you are trying to achieve.  Unreal expectations will blast your training like nothing else.  You set yourself up for some heady falls and the resultant loss of confidence and motivation are devastating (trust me on this one...I have been down this road maaaaannnyyyy times).  I talked earlier about not thinking so much in the gym (basically anyway...I know I am long winded-sorry).  When you are making your plans and evaluating this is the time to do your thinking.  Here is where you are evaluating and deciding the course of your training.  Not while you are in the gym...keep a training log and after your workouts you can go over your notes and evaluate the work at points within the cycle.  Don’t over evaluate but, check your progress a couple times throughout to see if things are working like they should.  When you get to the gym you have already planned the workout and the results...the actual workout is simply doing what you have already done in your mind.  Like me writing this article, I have already planned it out and know what I am going to say.  The typing is just the culmination of that planning.  That is how the workout needs to be.  It is the physical culmination of your pre-planning.  I like the phrase “nothin’ to it but to do it.”  Exactly! 
Alright, I know this is getting long and in reality I am only scratching at the surface of what is involved.  To overview you need to stay honest with yourself about your ability and why you are training.  What is the motivation for training and pursue that goal...not what some outside influence is trying to get you pursue.  Stay focused on the goal and the task at hand.  Perform the lifts because you know you can not because you are supercharging your system.  The latter method will eventually result in injury or stalemate.  Do not let yourself be drawn out of YOUR training or limit attempt.  Keep the goal fixed in your minds eye and simply do it!!  You don’t have to think about how you are going to do it, you have already taught yourself...let your body perform like it has been trained to do.  Do your thinking after the meet or prior to the training cycle.  This is the cerebral portion of it.  Plan the attack, evaluate what you know and apply it to benefit you then implement it and do the motions to achieve the desired goal.  Sounds a lot simpler in writing than it is in practice.  That is Murphy for ya’.
 One last point and then I’ll go away...promise.  Attitude.  You gotta’ have some to be successful with the heavy iron.  I don’t mean the idiot attitude of one upping people or the I look good ego trip.  I mean the conviction that you are going to achieve your goal and the weights will not stop you from doing so.  You need to believe that your planning is sound and that your workouts are culminating in the achievement of your goal.  This is the confidence that you need to have in your ability to direct your workouts and to actually do them...correctly.  You have to know that you can handle the stresses you are going to place on yourself and that you will overcome the trials that await you.  Sounds a lot like some motivational speaker, eh?  Its true, you can apply all those corny motivational aspects to your weigthlifting.  I like to think of my quest for strength as a war.  Each of my workouts is a skirmish and the meets are battles.  I go into my workouts knowing that I have to win these to get the momentum for that big battle coming up.  I attack the weights and always keep a focus on why I am there and what it is I am accomplishing.  I don’t let things around me affect my workout.  When I am ready to do my mind slips into gear and says it is time to go, I’ll walk away from a conversation to get it done.  Is it rude?  Maybe but, I didn’t bust my rear for all these years to stop for a conversation that can be done another time.  I know why I am there and I am going to accomplish the task at hand...slowly climbing the mountain one step at a time.  I like a description I heard once about strength (I think it was out of MILO).  Strength isn’t is cultivated.  To get strong you have to start and work for a long time to maximize it.  Lots of factors outside musculature involved in strength.  So be patient because the war will never end until you stop searching for more and more strength.  The culmination of your skirmishes will get you ready for a big battle.  Your meets...I doubt if there is anyone who goes into a meet and performs at top form without having planned for it.
The whole “war” analogy may be a little on the cheesy side but, it makes sense.  You are after a goal and there is an opposition.  I will hate and batter the weights until I stop training because they are the enemy.  They will continue to add reinforcements and I will continue to marshal my forces to combat them.  It is a never ending cycle and I love the whole blasted thing!  I refuse to let the weights win...some days they get the better of me but, the smarter and more focused I get the less those days happen and they continuously keep calling for more reinforcements.  So join the forces of good and righteousness in the ongoing struggle against........okay, sorry about that.  Got a little carried away there.  Watched Conan a couple too many times this weekend.  I concocted the whole war analogy to help me identify some principles and elements that need to be addressed to accomplish my goals.  So far the model has worked pretty good and my “battle” plan has been pretty sound.  The troops get a little battered at times but they seem to rise to the occasion when called upon.  I should give my recruiters a medal for the job they have been doing lately.  I could keep going with that whole train of thought but, I’ll spare you the agony. 
All you need is to get your mental training in order.  Set the plan for how you are going to get there then all that is left is journey.  The getting there is really the easiest part.  No thinking involved you go and lift the durned weights!  If you don’t get the mental side straightened out first then the journey is going to be fraught with potholes and u-turns.  Give some thought to the mental side of the game and see how it benefits your training.  I’ll bet that the best do...look what it has done for them.  I would welcome comments and further discussion on this aspect of lifting.  It is a very powerful and productive aspect and there are limitless possibilities to consider.  I hope maybe I have sparked an interest or touched on something productive for everyone.  If I haven’t then let me know and I got some questions for ya’ ;-).  I am always on the lookout for more knowledge and I encourage everyone to always look for more info.  Sometimes it comes in baskets and sometimes it comes in peapods but, it can all help.  Til’ next time, good liftin’.


Wade Hanna is a former High-School and Collegiate football player (Middle Linebacker and Nose guard) who was involved in Track & Field throwing events as well (Shot, Discus, Javelin).  After College he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he worked in Corrections.  A weightlifter since the age of 14 Wade is a recent addition to competitive Powerlifting.  Bitten by the competitive bug he competes in the #275 weight class with hopes of advancing to the #319.  Married and the father of one daughter Wade currently works for the Michigan Senate. 
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