Without competition, there is no progression” – This was a line from August Burns Red song “The First Step” (from their rather awesome album Rescue & Restore). As that line blared through my headphones at the gym and I had to stop my workout for a bit and start taking stock of the line. Without competition, there is no progression. I put the societal, corporate and capitalist ramifications of the line aside and considered it purely from a sports point of view.
Nowadays at the gym, I prefer to workout alone. I used to enjoy working out with a good friend of mine, but since he’s moved to Canada, those workouts are quite difficult. For me working out on my own is a release and I can focus on my own goals and objectives and keep to my tight regimen as opposed to having to wait for a workout partner to finish their set before I get to have a go. After a hard day, all my stress and everything is taken away by the iron. But as my workouts are geared towards hockey, a competitive team sport, how do I progress as a lone wolf at the gym?
In the main, I compete with myself at the gym. I normally suck at math and avoid anything to do with numbers like the plague, but when it comes to working out, my competition is to better what I’ve done the week before, the month before or even the year before. What I also do – and this is going to make me sound like an utter dickwad – is to compete against other hockey players I know that use the gym.
I may not know the players personally, but I know them from having played against them or having watched them play. Now, I’m fully aware that different people work to different programs at different paces and I respect that. I have my areas of focus, where another player has their own. But, by and large, the exercises and lifts that we do are the same. The way I compete (and this is without even them knowing that I’m competing with them), is to check how much they are lifting and make sure that I lift more than they do. I want to make sure that the conditioning work that I’m doing is ahead of what they do, whether they play in the same league, a higher league or lower. For me this level of competition has allowed me to push myself further. If it is a player that I know plays in the same league as I do, it is about sending a message. A message that I will out work you in the gym and I will outwork you on the ice.
Also, there is some sort of glee and I guess a dick headed alpha-male attitude in knowing that you can do deadlifts for more reps with higher weight than a pro player.
But where I’ve perhaps had the competition/progress relationship wrong is in on ice training. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I am out there, I go hard till I have nothing left in the tank, but maybe I don’t pick similar competitions as I do in the gym when in training and perhaps that is what I should start seeking to do. Whether it is to outskate certain players in drills that focus on speed or start keeping score on who has scored more goals in training, me or another randomly selected player.
It’s all well and good to play to my strengths on the ice in trainings and keep bringing high energy and intensity, but what if I ‘competed’ with my team mates in the same sense that I do in the gym with other lifters. Perhaps, I should start looking to bring more of my gym mentality to the ice as well and see whether that works. The only thing that I worry about is whether or not my competitiveness and being a sore-loser will eat away at my overall progress. But I think it is worth a shot. To start pushing myself even more and to achieve some of the goals that I’ve set for myself.
It is also said that satisfaction is the death of progress and in many ways I live by this ethos. However, I think I need to add more to the mix to start making more on ice gains and to evolve myself as a player.
As the last line in ABR’s First step says:
Evolve, or die.