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A Day in the Life of Dave Tate
The alarm goes off signaling for me to get my ass up and moving. Today is dynamic squat day and I have to be in the gym by 8:15 to begin the session by 8:30. As I roll over I feel the tightness in my lower back and think I should just stay in bed and forget training for the day.
Plus I did not sleep well; causing me to wake up at least three times through the night with my right shoulder feeling like it is being pounded with a heavy spike. Twice I could barely move it and had to use my other hand to pull it to a comfortable position.
Fifteen minutes goes by and I am still debating in my head if I should stay in bed or go to the gym. I finally decide to get up and move to the hot tub to loosen up.
As I sit up the tightness in my back become more intense. Then as I sit on the edge of the bed I notice my neck is killing me. I must have slept wrong on it again. I try to adjust it but the muscles are too tight to get it to move where I want it. My next challenge will be standing up. The best way I have found to accomplish this is to rock back and then forward as I move into a standing position. The act of standing up builds enough pressure in my head to cause a killer headache. I try to crack my neck again with little luck.
As I make my way to the stairs I notice my calves and hamstring are sore as hell from something. What did I do to cause these muscles to be sore? My last lower body training day was last Monday. Now it’s Friday and I still am tight. But, I was not tight yesterday. Now I am thinking there is no way I will be able to squat today. With the use of the hand rails I make my way down the stairs and out to the hot tub. Still half asleep I walk out into 30 degree weather and remove the top cover and drop my ass in the tub. I know from past experience than 15 minutes will be the maximum amount of time I can spend in the tub without having ill effects on my squat session.
After five minutes my body begins to feel better. The pain is still there but I am getting some of the movement back. After another 5 minutes I finally get my neck to crack. Finally the headache disappears and I can move my head from side to side. 15 minutes passes and I make my way back inside to shower off and get ready.
While in the shower I am still telling myself the training day could not do anything good for me. I feel too damn beat up. Training could only make me feel worse. I notice the time.
I realize I better get my ass moving if I am going to make it to the gym on time. I grab my gym bag and head to the door. I do not have time to make something to eat and will have to stop on the way and pick something up. 20 minutes later I find myself at McDonald’s getting a large coffee and a few breakfast sandwiches. I am trying to figure out what I will do in the gym. I still feel drained and beat up and maybe if I just go in and do some light reverse hypers, glute hams, and ab work I will feel good enough to make it through the rest of the day.
It then hits me that I also have a ton of work to get done when I get back to the office. More work then I would be able to get down in 8 hours let alone spending the first half of the day in the gym. As I get back on the road all I can think about are all the deadlines I have to make, the work to do, the meeting I have to go to. This along with two weeks of low sales begins to stress me out to the point I think I should turn the car around and get my ass to work. I see the next exit and am convinced that I better pull off hear and turn around so I can begin my day at the office.
Then I think of the guys in the gym that may be counting on me being there. I have missed too many sessions because of work so far this year and the guilt takes over. I pass the exit and tell myself I will get in begin my training and be out of the gym by 9:15 at the latest. This will get me back to work by 10:00 if I do not shower and go straight from the gym.
The next ten minutes if filled with the tasks I can move around to a different day and time so I can still get my training session in. Ten minutes from the gym I realize I really do not want to train today and have to find some way to get motivated. I toss in an old Black Sabbath CD and turn it up as loud as I can. This begins to make me feel somewhat better but I tell myself who cares if I am only going to go light for the day.
I finally roll into Westside. I sit in my truck a few extra minutes still debating if I should leave and go to work or get out and head in the gym. I know I can’t leave, I am already here. So I open the car door and step out onto the pavement. As I step out I feel some crazy stuff in my right hip flexor and think, great! This is all I need. I grab my bag and head into the gym.
Chuck Vogelpohl, Big Tim Harold, Jim Wendler, Louie Simmons, Jeremiah Myers, JL Holdsworth, Chicken hawk, Will Ramsey and Mike Ruggeria are already there and seem to be excited to train. Right away I feel left out. I am not ready to train and do not plan on doing anything hard. My plan is to just do some light hypers, and abs. I then decided it would not hurt to do a few sets of squats as long as I keep it easy and keep the weight down. I decide to squat with Will and we will be the first to go. This way I will be able to get out of the gym by 9:00 or 9:15.
I begin to go through a series of mobility movements to help me get loosened up for the squat. After 10 minutes or so I begin to put on my squat suit and make my way to the mono-lift. It takes me a few more minutes to be able to get under the bar. My shoulder is still lacking the flexibility from the last surgery to get under t he bar without stretching first. After a few sets with the bar and 135 we are ready to go. Today we are using a straight bar without bands and chains. I have been using the SS Bar for my dynamic work for the past few months to let my back and shoulder heal up and have not tried to use a straight bar in many months.
We begin with 135 and I knock out three reps. My hips and back still feel tight so I make may way over to the 45 degree back raise to stretch out a bit more before the next set. 225 is loaded to the bar and I knock out another 2 reps. My plan is to go up to 315 and do 5 sets of 2 reps. This is not much weight and would be a good introduction back to the straight bar and most defiantly would not beat me up that much. 315 is loaded and I perform 2 easy reps. I notice that my motivation is coming back and I am fired up to finally be back under a straight bar.
Screw it! We are training today! 405 and the 495 is loaded to the bar. We knock out 2 sets of 2 reps with 495 and it wasn’t that bad. I can’t believe how strong the SS bar made my squat. I feel the aggression building and feel like ripping the bar in half. Two more sets are completed and I feel like the bar is empty. I am blasting the weights up. My form is a bit off but this is to be expected as I have not used a straight bar for the past few months.
A few corrections are suggested to me from Chuck and Louie and I begin to feel like my old self. It has been along time but I finally feel like I am getting back on par. We finish 4 more sets without much problem and I can honesty say that next to my family, it’s these kind of squat sessions are what I live for.
To use 495 for my sets three years ago when I was not beat up was a great training session. Here I am doing it today and I know my squat is nowhere close to 100%. For the last set we toss a light band on the bar and rip out 2 more reps. This was one of the best squat sessions I have had in the past three years!
I go onto sumo pulls against bands, Glute Ham Raises, Straight Leg sit ups, 45 degree back raises and Reverse Hypers. During my supplemental work I also helped run the mono lift and coach the other guys the same way they did for me. The next thing I know it is 10:30am. Screw it, so I won’t get to the office when I wanted to. There will be much time for work later, times like these last a life time. Work is over when the task is completed.
As I drive from the gym I realize that I still have a way to go to get back to where I was before but now I feel that I am back on the right path. It has been a very hard few years for my squat and dead lift training. I have a million excuses from a growing business, multiple injuries and the birth of my two sons. All and all I would not change anything but it would have been nice to avoid all the training injuries and set backs but that would not be how the world works. I used to take training sessions like this for granted because I was too focused on the outcome and did not take the time to enjoy the process.
For the rest of my drive I contemplate what adjustments I will need to make to my training to keep moving forward. I go through at least thee different training plans before decided on what the best plan of action will be. I also know this will change many more time before the next squat workout. Part of the process is learning how to adjust your training program from session to session. If you set out on a prescribed plan you will not be able to adjust for the good sessions and bad sessions. You have to work from a general template and let your training determine the rest.
I arrive back at work jacked up from my training session and find I am able to knock the work out at twice the speed I would normally be able to do. Within the next three hours I have completed what I thought would have been 8 hours worth of work. If I would have blown the session off I would never have been able to get the same amount of work done. I know this for a fact because there are many days where I decided it would be better to skip the session. The key is to know when you can press on and when you need to take it easy or skip the session. This is more an art than a science and there is now way to tell you when one is right or wrong.
This is something we all have to learn from trial and error. I am sure there have been any sessions I have missed that would have been great sessions if I had decided to train. I also know there are many sessions that I have trained when I should have taken it easy. I have the injuries to prove for these mistakes. Maybe someday I will figure this all out but until then I am sure I will make many more mistakes. I chalk this up as being part of the game.
If you are a lifter you all know what I mean about getting the call. You always have that small network of friends you keep in touch with that call you every few days or once a week to check in with you to see how your training is going. The call may be more for the caller to let you know what they have just done, but either way the call is coming. On this day I received such a call around 1:30 in the afternoon. “So how your squat workout go?” I proceed to outline the highlights of my squat session and explain that I finally feel like I am back on track and should be ready to begin training for another meet soon. I then asked how his session went. He told me he had to take the day off as his hips are bothering him. All I can think is what a sissy!
The law of training states that I have to rag him about skipping a session. So I lay it out how he is scared to lift the heavy weights and on and on. This is the funny thing about the call. You just about skipped your session but you can never tell anyone else about it. It just would not be the “strong” thing to do. You have to pretend that you are this hard core dedicated lifter that will suffer through it all to gain one more pound, while the other guy is weak and does not have the courage to press on. That is unless you are the one that took the day off. Then the wise thing to do is to not make the call, or avoid taking the call in the first place. This is why it is so hard to reach other lifters after bad meets or bad training sessions.
By this time my body begins to tighten up again and I make my way back to the hot tub to loosen enough to be able to fall asleep and with any luck make it through the night without waking up in pain. While in the tub I ask myself the same question I have been asking for years. I have asked this question thousands of times and even wrote an article about it. Why is the hell do I keep doing this? Why do I beat my body to hell? Why do I take so much time out of my day? What effects will this have on my body in the future? Will I be able to move when I am 60 years old? Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back?
There is the big one. Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back? Will what I do in one specific day at work matter when I am on my death bed? NO, Will my PR’s really matter when I look back? NO, Will how much money I make really matter at this time? NO, Will the training partners I have had over the years matter? NO, Will the final set of squats matter?
NO, The things that really matter will be the time spent with your family and friends, what you have done to make the world a better place, the positive effects you had had on the life of others and WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO!
This is what I love to do. I do this so the world will not change me.
Written by Dave Tate
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