If you’ve been training for some time you’ll be able to recall periods when your training was dialled in. You made great gains. You were strong. You looked great. And the results were almost expected.
This training phase is commonly referred to as ‘your twenties’. This is when you could eat whatever you wanted, have the most irregular sleep routine in existence, go out for beer and wings and still see good things happen as a result of your strength training.
But besides being young and having all the physical advantages that come with youth there were other reasons that training in my twenties was great for results. And a big part of that had to do with the fact I was training with my brother Jon.
If you know Jon you’re probably smiling right now as he’s a very funny guy that everyone can relate a memorable experience that involves him. And if you don’t know him than imagine someone that does quite well academically but is probably as good if not better at interacting with different people. In other words his IQ was matched, if not exceeded, by his EQ (intelligence emotional quotient).
Anyways at a certain point in our young lives Jon and I decided that we would both head off to Saskatchewan for university. And since we were both into training at the time it made for a natural and obvious training partner situation for the two of us.
We were both training to get as big and as strong as we could. So we would follow similar training programs. And we would eat similar meal plans. And we would invest, when we could afford them, in similar training supplements.
But while all these things were beneficial to achieving results there was one thing that more of an impact than anything else. And that was the competition that exists between brothers.
Whenever we would train together there was an unspoken truth of the fact that each last set of an exercise was a competition. Who would lift the most weight? Who would do the most reps?
Nothing else mattered. We were both completely aware of what the other achieved in terms of load and reps for his set. And there became a bit of sportsmanship, or lack of actually, in terms of who would go first? Because there was a definite advantage of going second. For example, I knew that if Jon got 11 reps at 235 lbs on bench I had two options.
If I wanted to compete with him head on I could slide under the bar at 235 lbs and get at least 12 reps. Or if I was feeling really good I might go 240 or 245 lbs and shoot for 10 or 11 reps as well. But that was risky so usually I would opt for the former and try and crush him with the same load on the bar.
Now if you’re thinking these types of competitions only happened when conditions were perfect, you’re wrong. I could have the flu, just woken up from a night of partying or any other reason to not ‘be feeling it’ on that day and would still go for it and try and beat my brother.
That’s jus the nature of a brotherly rivalry. And we would also do things to try and distract or throw each other off our game. When spotting one another on bench, we would stand over each other so our shorts were inconveniently brushing the other’s head. And although I could never generate enough sweat to do so, I do remember Jon positioning himself in just the right place when spotting me so that his sweat would drop on me when trying to beat his 11 reps. I quickly learned though that even though I couldn’t muster up any sweat to drop on him I did know how to spot the bar in a way that would break his concentration and momentarily distract him to limit optimal output.
And while we were both trying to distract the other and prevent setting records with our training it still lead to some great gains for both of us. Jon went on to the RCMP and set some lifting records during his time at depot. And he definitely pushed me to exceed what I would have achieved in training had he not been there.