Transitioning from a beginner lifter
Your training age, if you want to call it that, refers to the length of time you’ve been training (crazy, right?). In lifting terms, that can sometimes tell you how proficient or advanced a lifter might be. We have a number of ‘young’ lifters at Black Flag Barbell Club, which is always a pleasure. Having a blank or mostly blank slate from which to get started makes the job of coaching easier much of the time, as there are no bad habits to break.
Now, young lifters make quick progress. When you get started with strength training or powerlifting, the stimulus is new and your body is quick to figure some of these crazy new things out. You will improve motor pattern efficiency, muscle fibre recruitment, and add some muscle quite easily at first. This leads to quick PRs, and usually quite large ones.
But, all good things must come to an end. At a certain point, your ‘noobie’ gains will run out, and this is the stage where you might see people get frustrated or even quit the sport. This transition from beginner to intermediate, for lack of a better term, is an important one.
If you enjoy the process of training, and the meaning behind it (bettering yourself mentally and phyiscally), then slower progress is no issue. If you have built your training worth and self esteem around constant PR’s, then this period of time is likely to be a difficult one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier – progress often becomes harder to achieve the stronger and more advanced you become.
If you told me tomorrow that despite all my efforts, I would never break another PR – I would still be training. The process is important to me, and it provides a mental and physical meditation. Now, that is an extreme example – but what if I told you that in the next six months, you would only add 5kg to your bench press? What if your deadlift stalled for a year or two?
If you enjoy the process of training – the grind, the analysis of technique, the challenge behind programming, the community of lifters and the family you develop – then you will never stop. PR’s or no PR’s. You might drift every now and then, life has a habit of screwing up even the best made plans. But you will always have the barbell, the process and the friends you make along the way.