It`s not a competition!
It always amazes me how someone with very little experience can totally dismiss someone else’s experience and strength thinking they can lift the same amount of weight as someone who has lots of experience, and happens to be twice their size, and especially when it’s me they happen to be not taking seriously!
But when they happen to personally know me and also know I’ve been a personal trainer for a number of years it makes it twice as bad, as it might have occurred to them that I might actually just know what I’m talking about! And maybe, just maybe they might realize I’m a little more advanced than what they are!
My experience with this issue
One such example was a guy I worked with named Roy. He was ex-army and full of himself, always telling me how he thought he could match me with the weights! The session was just meant to be an introduction into lifting weights, I told him I’d workout with him just so he can get a feel of weight training, but not to expect to lift the same weights as I’m lifting, after all, it’s not a competition between the two of us. Sadly, he couldn’t comprehend that little fact at all.
I was by no means the biggest and strongest in the gym, but that’s fine, as I fully understood my limitations and was happy with my size and strength, I explained I didn’t start off this big and strong, I was once his size with no experience and understand the importance of lifting safely and not trying to lift too much too soon, just got to give it time and progress steadily. I probably outweighed Roy by a good one hundred pounds and with no experience I knew he would have to start off very lightly, but Roy on the other hand had other ideas.
Know your limitations
Everything we did he would try and left the same weight! As we started with a few machines it wasn’t such a big deal as he simply couldn’t move the stack at all. Ten out of ten for effort but as his face was going bright red under the strain nothing was happening. I would reduce the weight around 70% so he could do his set, easy enough on the machines for two people to work out together even if they are miles apart in experience and strength, after all, it’s just a matter of removing a pin. Free weights are not quite as easy as you’re constantly having to take the weights on and off the bar, which gets really old fast!
Even though it was very evident Roy was frustrated with himself, he was actually doing pretty well, with a lot less weight than myself of course which he couldn’t quite get his head around. All was well until we used the smith machine for incline bench press, personally I warm up with 100lb which isn’t too difficult for this particular exercise. I did my set then it was Roy’s turn, I told him just give me a minute and I’ll reduce the weight a little for him to start with.
Injury can occur lifting too much
I took some weights off and left 20lb on the bar. Before I could get in position to spot him, he had already jumped on the bench and unhooked the bar off the rack and crash! The bar came straight down hitting him in the mouth! His arms had completely gone and had no strength left to work with this light weight.
I did manage to get a hand on the bar and stop it hitting him with full force, but even so it drew plenty of blood and gave him a nice fat lip in the process! He had no desire to carry on after that and went home immediately and never returned to the gym ever again. Afterwards he said “I guess I’m not as strong as you after all!” No shit! Whatever gave you that idea?
He must have been pretty embarrassed as he didn’t show up at work for a few days after, when he returned to work, he told everyone he was involved in a fight at the weekend and that’s how he got the fat lip! I went along with that story as I knew how embarrassed he must have been about the whole session, I kept asking him to come back but he just didn’t have the patience required to benefit from weight training, he claimed he was sore for a whole week after!
He also failed to inform me beforehand that he had some kind of metal plate fitted in his head after an injury he suffered while serving in the army, and he claimed when he got home this metal plate was pulsating in his head for hours! He also claimed it was so bad he thought he was going to die. Strange thing was though, he never went to the hospital or even called his doctor, surely if you think you’re in that kind of danger you would do one or the other, or both? I’d like to think I would have anyway. Sounds a little too serious just to do nothing.
He said this `old war wound` had prevented him from working out as hard as he could or wanted to in the past, and that he is way stronger than the workout he did with me suggested. Sounds like he still can’t accept his lack of strength and experience. Funny thing was, the session wasn’t bad at all, when you consider his size and strength levels he did pretty well.
You’re only in competition with yourself
Looking back, I’m pretty sure this was just another example of someone trying to do way too much too soon without even trying to understand or accept their limitations.
Bottom line really is this; you’re only in competition with yourself, don’t try and keep up with someone else that’s way stronger and more experienced. It`s not a sign of weakness at all to go at your own pace, you`ll get faster results by going one step at a time, don’t rush it.
Have you ever experienced this kind of training partner or client? Someone that feels necessary to try and keep up with you?