Training and ADD

This is one of my all-time favorite articles on training and something that I should probably read every week because I am more guilty than most when it comes to switching programs mid-stream. Just looking back I can tell you that anytime I stuck to the same program for more than a 3 months I hit PRs and did really well with it.
Here’s the article:

Powerlifting and ADD
By Chris Smith

Okay, so I was sitting there at work the other day, and I came up with a theory. I think for the most part, those starting out in powerlifting have ADD. I mean, think about it. How many times has a beginner/intermediate lifter to the sport visited the various forums looking for the holy grail, the ultimate program that is going to pack on muscle and pounds to the total only to come back a week later and say “program so and so sucks…it doesn’t work” or “this style of training is only for people on the juice?” I’m willing to bet at least 5–10 times a week, and that’s being conservative.

Personally, I know it wasn’t until I said, “Screw it. I’m gonna pick one powerlifting program and give it a good year of effort and see what turns up” that I started garnering the results I wanted. And guess what happened?

My total went up.
The muscle mass got packed on.
I’m stronger now than I was back in the days of three sets of ten and sipping energy drinks on the leg curl machine while pondering the secrets of the powerlifting universe.
The program I use is based on the Westside Barbell style of training. This style has worked for me. It keeps the iron game refreshing and new because the methodology is constantly changing and is open for experimentation. That’s not to say that Westside is the end-all be-all of powerlifting programs. It’s just that it has worked for me. There are other great programs out there including Sheiko, Smolov, and Coan/Phillipi. The key is to seek them out, study them, and make an honest judgment as to whether or not you think you can mold it to your needs.

Now back to the ADD side of things. ADD stands for attention deficit disorder, and yes I have it. Whoop-dee doo, don’t we all. ADD is a term commonly used to describe the neurological disorder attention deficit disorder. (See, I picked up that I repeated myself. Could it be ADD? Who knows? Who cares? This is a powerlifting article, right?)

Below are some of the symptoms:

Often doesn’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in day to day activities
Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks (daydreams)
Often doesn’t follow instructions and fails to finish projects and tasks (whoa, look at this new program, I think I’ll give it a go!!)
Often has trouble organizing activities (How many sets and reps do I need to do?)
Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take much mental effort for a long period of time (such as following a powerlifting program to completion)
Often can be easily distracted (and goes with the flavor of the week)
This isn’t a comprehensive list of symptoms, but there are definitely characteristics of many people starting this sport and others for that matter. Some blame their low totals, strength, and lack of follow through on “paralysis by analysis.” However, which came first—the chicken or the egg? Are you too scatterbrained to concentrate on one program at once? Or do you read a ton of articles, get paralyzed, implement pieces of five programs into one crappy routine, and then blame them all for your poor performance? Who knows?

So the question is this—what can you do to get around this powerlifting ADD thing? Well, there are many ways to address this. For me, it was just having a long talk with myself on what it is that I want to accomplish and deciding to quit using excuses for my pathetic strength levels. I quit saying that the only way to get strong is to go on the juice. I quit saying that I need a group of people to train with to get strong (I train alone by the way). I quit saying a whole host of other things and placing the blame on external forces instead of owning the responsibility.

Powerlifting is about being honest with yourself and testing yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally (I often cry when I miss a weight…just kidding). If you try and kid yourself or place the responsibility on someone else, you’re either going to get pancaked under a pathetic squat, choked by a dropped bench press, or move to the head of the line of the geriatric look-a-like contest because you chose to ignore the finer points of deadlifting and now have a “crick-in-yer-back” look to you. Congratulations! The universe succeeded in its master plan to sabotage your powerlifting dreams by not providing you with the holy grail that only elite lifters know the whereabouts of. Good for you.

Pick a program, give it time, and as Dave Tate states in his book, Under the Bar, have indicators in place to help you determine if you picked a winner of a program or a stinker. Keep your focus and get a partner or person to hold you to your goals. You’ll need someone who won’t let you pussyfoot around. The simple act of having somebody consistently ask you how your training is going will help to keep you honest. Well, that’s about it from my neck of the woods so until I surface again…keep it dark and keep it heavy!

Chris Smith has been an ISSA certified personal trainer and powerlifter for just under two years. He is also an aerospace technician, internet marketer, father of two, husband of one, and hell bent on getting strong. If you would like to read more about Chris or just give him a hard time, visit his blog where he logs his training and analyzes it at

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