A couple of months ago I mentioned to my GMN brother Nick that I was reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. “That’s great Chris” Nick said, “perhaps you could write a piece about it for GMN”! Objectivism in training – what a subject; I couldn’t wait.
Well that was the plan. Atlas Shrugged, written in 1957 is according to Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine in the US, one of the greatest works of philosophy of the 20th Century; I have a ton of respect for Shermer and if he says I should read something then I’m going to listen.
I knew a little of Rand, she was the poster girl of Objectivism, which philosophically is opposed to Immanuel Kant’s altruism. Rand believed that all human acts were fuelled by what was in it for them; an argument I’m not going to revisit here. But suffice it to say I decided to read this damn near 1200 page, very small font book and give Nick his piece for GMN.
That was 6 months ago and I’ve been having trouble, well more than trouble really, I’ve given up! What kind of mighty attitude is this Chris? You can’t even finish a damn book!
Allow me to explain; this is where I’m at after reading over 300 pages: the book is a love story, I hate love stories. The book is about a transcontinental railway network; I didn’t even like trains when I was 6! In short there’s nothing which appeals to me apart from the philosophical ideas, which I can get elsewhere.
I also found I was looking on my bookshelf and seeing a bunch of books by Christopher Hitchens which I bought a few months ago. Now when I read a Hitchens book I learn something, I am entertained, my rather limited vocabulary is expanded, and I feel as though I’m getting smarter. Strangely enough I seem to recall Christopher Hitchens being quite dismissive of Atlas Shrugged in his excellent autobiography “Hitch 22”.
So I’ve relegated Atlas Shrugged to a dusty bookcase, and brushed off “Letters to a Young Contrarian”.
You will not be surprised dear reader when I tell you that this got me thinking of a training routine I did a few years ago – it always comes back to training with me!
A few years ago I decided that it was time to give the Smolov routine a try. Rather like Atlas Shrugged I’d known about this for years but certain things had put me off. But now my Squat had been stuck for a while and I decided that the time was now.
After a short prep cycle I entered the 3 week Smolov base phase which called for Squatting 4 times a week! Monday was 4 sets of 9, Wednesday was 5 sets of 7, Friday 7 sets of 5, and Saturday 10 sets of 3.
I diligently worked through this for 3 weeks, my training partners laughing at my pain all the way. On the final week these were the loads I was attempting
- Monday 170kg
- Wednesday 180kg
- Friday 190kg
- Saturday 202.5kg
I didn’t quite get all my reps; on the Saturday session I got 7×3, 2×2, and 1×1 on the final set.
After this base cycle I was to re-test my max; as you can imagine I was anticipating a decent increase. Well it didn’t quite work out like that; my max went down 5kg, or maybe a little more. At the World’s 3 months previously I had done a smooth 220kg, and now I had half killed myself getting 215kg; not the outcome I’d planned.
As then as now with Atlas Shrugged, I was prepared to stop, cut my losses and move on. After ditching Smolov, a few months later I Squatted 230kg with just a belt, and was British Champion in the Squat.
Please notice that I didn’t read a few pages of Atlas Shrugged and give up, or perform 3 sessions of Smolov and say sod that, I’m not Squatting 4 times a week; no, I gave them both a good go, and I may do so again; sometimes things don’t work out for many reasons, this doesn’t necessarily mean that something should be dismissed permanently.
But if you have given something a good go and the outcome (results) aren’t what you expected then be prepared to change, so long as you have a good alternative plan in place.