The 5 Factors that lead me to success at the American Masters
What does it take to achieve the big goals you’ve set? Here are 5 factors that lead to success at my first big weightlifting meet.
I recently competed in the American Masters weightlifting meet. It was my first major weightlifting competition, and the one I trained nearly 8 months for.
Prior to the meet — I established 2 goals for myself.
Goal 1: successfully total. This is weightlifting speak for having at least one successful snatch and one successful clean and jerk.
Goal 2: Total over 200kg (440lbs). Weightlifting competitions utilize metric units — kilograms specifically. To total over 200kg I would need the combined weights of my best snatch and best clean and jerk to add up to more than 200kg. My previous best was 191kg (421lbs).
When the meet finished I had successfully achieved both my goals, and even wound up with a third place finish in my age/weight class. I snatched 92kg (203lbs) and clean and jerked 112kg (247lbs) at a bodyweight of 77kg (170lbs). I’m still pumped about this accomplishment.
The 5 factors I’ll review below lead directly to this success.
Consistency (consistent training)
This is far and away the most important. It impacts three of the other factors and its importance cannot be overstated (it’s likely the most critical after #5)
From the time I started training in March to the day of the meet I didn’t miss a training session that was within my control. That meant waking at 4:20am most days and getting to the gym, no matter what. To be clear I did miss a day or two because of work travel. We also went hiking in the Adirondacks for a week, so I missed a few days there. Nonetheless, for nearly 8 months straight I put in 5 days of training per week. Not everyday was a triumph. Some days were pure struggle and frustration. However, when I stood on that platform staring at the 92kg snatch I was about to attempt , I knew I had those 8 months of solid training to lean on. And the lift was successful!
Consistency is crucial. Both physically (I had prepared my body and was ready to go) and mentally. I pushed and trained when it was time to train. I had essentially built a habit of getting the work done when it was time. The competition, for all the jitters, planning, and excitement, was just another training day. It was time to get after it — and I did.
Self care (Mobility work)
In order to consistently make it to the gym and be ready to train — my body needed to be ready to take on the work. This meant taking care of my body the rest of the day after training and on recovery days. Romwod played a big part in this effort. Beginning in January we had purchased a subscription to Romwod and started a practice of completing the 20min routine 5–7 times per week in the evenings before heading to bed.
I believe this consistent stretching and mobility work helped keep my joints, muscles, and tendons in good shape and ready to take on the next day of training. I also took time prior to every workout to warm up and then following each session to spend a few minutes stretching out. The practice of self-care benefited me physically as it helped keep me injury free. It also benefited me psychologically; the consistent commitment to taking care of myself helped boost my confidence that I was going to achieve success.
This was a factor which I did not realistically think i’d stick with for the long-term. I surprised myself. I ate in accordance with the nutrition plan I selected very consistently during the entire training period. After a month or so following an IIFYM diet, I purchased the diet templates from Renaissance Periodization and their eBook. Using the templates and the book together game me a chance to modulate my weight throughout the months. Doing so in response to where I was at in the training cycle. As the meet approached I cut down (from around 80kg to 75kg) at a very gradual pace and made weight with some room to spare — without any loss in strength.
This factor required a lot of difficult choices and a good deal of self-denial (especially early on). Beer, pizza, and snacks are just a few of the vices I enjoy, like everyone else. I was, however, able to resist these the vast majority of the time. I made exceptions during special occasions and during our vacation. Still, I was able to be consistent with my diet and felt healthy (I didn’t get sick at all!) throughout the training period. Keeping the larger goal of the American Masters in mind was the key in turning down those treats.
As noted earlier, on weekdays I trained at 5am so I awoke at 4:20. This time was non-negotiable. As I talked about in my morning routine post, this is the time that allows me to push on all my goals without sacrificing something important. Once I made the decision to train first thing in the morning, I needed to commit to the next decision to go to bed earlier than I might otherwise.
Furthermore, the research is clear — sleep is CRITICAL to success. In nearly every endeavor: be it physical (like weightlifting) or intellectual, being well rested is a necessary element.
Getting to bed earlier required managing my activities in the evening. I had to make time to get Romwod done, in addition to the chores around the house. Thankfully, this became a routine for Jolene and I. Once 9:30–10pm rolled around — I was READY to crash. I would force myself to leave Instagram for the evening or put the book down. Sleep is too important to trade for the other things I would have been doing.
This is the perfect bookend to the factors required to achieve success. Without the support of Jolene and my children — none of this would be possible. The support goes from the indirect, like ignoring my grumpiness when I had a bad training session or was cutting weight. To more direct support like making sure we had good, healthy food available, and agreeing that the money I spend on coaching and training is worthwhile. The kids even sat through the VERY boring meet on that saturday afternoon. Without a doubt — if I didn’t have their support, I would not have been able to sustain the other 4. I’m grateful for the love and support my family provides me.
One other element that runs through all of these factors.
I had to believe in myself.
I had to believe that I was worth making these sacrifices for. I had to believe that I was worth spending the time, energy, and money on. I had to be a little selfish. If I let the resistance and the negative self talk get too loud, I may have started doubting whether I had any chance at achieving these goals. I may have slipped, or worse, given up all together.
I realize these 5 factors are specific to me, and specific to my achieving a modest success at a weightlifting meet. Which may have no relevance for you. However — if you look closely — you may find a theme or two that stands out and is applicable to the goals that you’ll be setting for yourself in the year to come.