I'm not sure how many of you read T-Nation, but if you don't you owe it to yourself to check out the two part article series that they've recently posted by Dave Tate.
I've cut/pasted an excerpt here, as it was something I was thinking about myself just the other day.
Do the Stuff You Suck At
You ever wonder where your weak points come from? They're a combination of your strengths overpowering the rest of your skills, and you simply not doing the stuff you hate to do.
Think about it, if your abs and core stability are your weak points, is it because you're training them too hard or too often? Not on your life. Show me a weak point, and I'll show you a movement that isn't being trained because the athlete doesn't like to do it.
Is this something you hate to do? Then do it.
Let me tell you about how I discovered this secret.
It was at the IPA Worlds (a.k.a. the York Barbell Hall of Fame), my first meet after a nine-month hiatus. I had taken some time off to heal up, regroup, and push my bodyweight up higher. I was looking forward to this meet, because my training was going very well, and things seemed to be going my way. My warm-up for the squat attempts felt great, fast, and very explosive. I was definitely getting jacked up about the meet.
I was on deck, next up. My wraps were on, tight as hell, and I was ready. The moments right before I hit the chalk are the best moments of my life. The anticipation, the aggression, the work it took to get to this moment are unmatched.
Finally, over the loudspeaker came the words I'd waited nine months to hear, "Load the bar to 860 pounds for Dave Tate." It was a weight I'd squatted several times before, and it was to be my opening attempt. Full of rage, I began chalking my hands.
This is the moment with every big lift that I "detach" from myself, and go on autopilot. Rarely do I remember anything from the time I leave the chalk box until after the lift.
However, this lift I do remember, because I couldn't get it out of the rack.
I remember trying to stand up with the weight, but I couldn't budge it. It felt welded to the rack. I tried a few times and still nothing. This pissed me off to no end, so I stepped back and increased my rage as high as I could, got back under the rack, and nothing.
My helpers stepped in and pulled me from the rack. Needless to say, this was not a good moment for me. Nine months of training and I couldn't get my damn opener out of the rack.
Just then, I heard Louie Simmons call out, "Dave, you're done. Pull out." I glanced back at him, figuring he was just trying to piss me off. But he looked straight at me and said, "I'm serious, Dave. You're done. Pull out, and we'll talk later. It's not worth what could happen right now."
Now, Louie Simmons is one of the best coaches in the world, and I was part of his team, the Westside Barbell Club. This club is known to be the strongest gym in the world and I was one of Louie's boys. I respect this man and trust him with my life.
So I pulled out, and spent the rest of the meet watching the rest of my team lift well, sitting there eating hot dogs and wondering what the hell my problem was.
On the drive home, I told Louie, "I don't understand what happened today. My training went well. I was strong as hell on everything in the gym."
Just then he stopped me and said something I'll never forget: "That's exactly your problem."
As we turned onto the Interstate, I sat there thinking that Louie was out of his mind. How could being strong in the gym be a bad thing?
How can being strong as hell in the gym be a bad thing?
"You know what you need, Dave?" Louie continued. "You need to do those things you suck at. You're at a point where your weaknesses are killing you, and you're doing nothing to address them. Your legs and upper back can easily squat a grand, but your abs and lower back can't squat 860 pounds. Which do you think you'll squat, 1000 or 860? What you need to be doing is reverse hypers and standing ab work!"
The simple truth hit me like a half-ton of iron. Louie was exactly right. In training, I hated doing reverse hypers and standing ab work. As a matter of fact, I hated alllower back and ab work, so to be honest,I skipped it most of the time.
Once again: your weak points are caused by doing what you hate to do. And this is the difference between competitive athletics and "working out." You can always get into better shape by doing things that you like to do, but to excel at a sport, you have to master doing the things that you hate to do.
So, for the next six months I trained my lower back and abs four days a week: once at the beginning of every session, and at the end of each session. At the Nationals in November, I squatted 900 pounds for the first time. For the next meet, I increased my torso training to six days a week, with three days being very heavy and three days being light.
In July, I went back to the IPA Worlds, the same meet I had to pull out of the year before. I squatted 860 pounds, then 905 pounds, and onto an easy 935 pounds.
While training for the 935 pounds, my main gym lifts that I had bragged were so strong were actually down 15 percent from the previous year, however, my torso strength was the strongest that it had ever been.
Whether you're a powerlifter, Olympic lifter, strongman, physique competitor or just someone who wants to look and feel better, this is great advice. Quite often, the things we hate doing in training are the very things we need to do the most.
Start training your deficiencies now and you'll see what a difference it can make.
Stay strong and have a great 4th!