Apr 25

Be Perfect Today: Part XXVI – There’s Only One Way…The RIGHT Way

michael-jordan-dribbling ball upcourt“The minute you get away from fundamentals, whether it’s proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation, the bottom can fall out of your game, you schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.” Michael Jordan.

“Your first rep should be as perfect as your last rep.” David Patterson.

Years ago I had the privilege and honor to work with two national-caliber bodybuilders named Rocky and Terry Edwards out of Oregon. They were Bill Pearl disciples. Bill Pearl was known for his philosophy on doing everything exactly the same way every rep, every set, every workout. Like others before him, and others after him, he learned at an early age that the fundamentals were paramount to achieving success. I agree with that.

Bill Pearl sitting on bench pressAfter my second bodybuilding show, in which I placed a dismal 11th place out of 22 competitors (I took dead last my very first show as I didn’t have a clue as to what this sport was all about at this time), Terry, who was working at the gym I trained at in Portland, OR, came up to me that Monday and said, “Dave, you looked okay up there, but there’s so much more you need to learn about how to train, pose, and stuff. Do you want to join me and my brother, Rocky, at our workout gym tomorrow and train together?”

“Sure, I replied! I’d seen Rocky the year before at an Oregon show as he qualified for the Nationals and was blown away by his size and conditioning. Terry wasn’t far behind.

“Okay. Meet us tomorrow at McIntyre’s Gym in Gresham at 4:15. We stretch for a few minutes and start working out at exactly 4:30.”

“Okay, I replied.” “Tomorrow afternoon at 4:15 it is…” I was excited as I was about to learn from two of the best at that time.

“No. We train at 4:30 AM, Dave. Be there at 4:15 AM.”

“Oh…okay,” I mumbled. First lesson I learned. When you train with someone BETTER than you, you bow to THEM. Think of a Martial Arts studio. You don’t walk in and tell the Grand Master when YOU want to train. You train when HE says you train. If that’s at 4:30 am, then 4:30 am is when you train.

I showed up the next morning at 4:20. “You’re late,” Rocky growled.

“Uh, Terry told me the workout didn’t start until 4:30…”

“We’re on the FLOOR at 4:15. We do 15 minutes of stretching. We start training at 4:30,” he snarled again. Right then I knew I was in for a brand new experience. And it scared me. But in a good way. Years later I appreciated the discipline I learned from them, which they’d learned from Bill Pearl. Second lesson – Be. On. Time. When it’s time to train, it’s time to train.

First exercise – Bench Press. Rocky lies down. 225 is on the bar. Off it comes. 1, 2, 3…up to 20 reps without a hitch. Perfect form. Terry lies down on the bench, same weight. 1, 2, 3…up to 15 reps perfect form. My turn. They look at me. “Uhhh, 135…,” as I quickly realized these guys were WAAAAY outta my league. Without a word they stripped the weight. Lesson #3. The gym training time is for training, not for talking. These two said hardly anything once the workout started outside of asking me what I wanted or offering suggestions.

Bench Press raising butt off bench archFourth and most important lesson that day – don’t use bad form. I lay on the bench, grabbed the bar and lifted it off. I wanted to impress these guys so I started ripping off reps quickly, thereby initiating a slight bounce off my chest. On the 3rd rep Rocky stopped me.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m benching.”

“No you’re not. You’re bouncing.”

“Yeah, but it’s just my warmup set…”

Rocky almost yelled, “Every Rep Is done exactly the same way, from the first rep to the last! There’s not a your way, my way, or our way. There’s only ONE way…the RIGHT way!” Now clean your form up;”  Terry chipped in, “Dave, more accidents happen during warmups than any other time as people aren’t locked in mentally. They’re just tossing weight around (sidebar…I learned that exact same thing in Biomechanics and Kinesiology almost 20 years later, and learned the reason why).

I started over, this time with perfect form. “Much better,’ Rocky said after the set. The rest of the workout he never had to say another word to me. I got it.

To this day I still execute perfect form on every single rep and set, including warmups. Even with a cheat set, which I seldom do anymore, it’s a controlled cheat, and I’m locked into the proper form of the ‘cheat’. My warmups prepare the mind and body for work. More importantly, they establish neuromuscular patterning that facilitates proper form at the higher loads. To quote Michael Jordan once again, “There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything else you do will rise.”

Be perfect in your mental discipline. Be perfect in your cardio. Be perfect in your training. Be perfect in your nutrition. And be perfect in your fundamentals of everything. In essence, Be Perfect Today.

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