Last year when I began working at Dynamic, I quickly realized that my fellow coach, Chris Martin, was a heavy metal connoisseur. Before I met Chris, I was pretty content with my knowledge of metal. If you looked at my music on iTunes, you would have found the likes of Mudvayne, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, and Sevendust, just to name a few. Now, since Chris has taken me under his wing, I’ve been introduced to metal powerhouses like Flotsam and Jetsam, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Killswitch Engage, and Eye Empire. Perhaps most importantly, Chris has helped me to comprehend the greatness, and truly discover my passion for, Pantera.
Some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering how on earth, as an iron enthusiast, Pantera was not a staple in my iTunes library. Before you go suggesting that I get my testosterone levels checked, I did buy their fifth major studio album, Reinventing the Steel, when it came out, and I was only a mere 3 years old when their first big album was released. So cut me some slack, okay?! And just for ya know (inside joke), I do own all five Pantera albums now, and they hold a permanent spot in my car for continued playing.
As Pantera has been a mainstay during car rides and training sessions for a while, I’ve come to believe that it’s not simply their angry, aggressive, in-your-face sound that’s conducive to training and lifting heavy things. In fact, and maybe to your surprise, you can learn a lot about weightlifting from Pantera just through some of their song titles. Let me take you album by album so you can see what I mean.
Cowboys From Hell (1990) – Track 6 – “Domination”
A large part of the iron game is mental, not physical. When you’re preparing for a heavy deadlift or getting ready for any max attempt, you have to believe that you will dominate the weight. Visualize yourself nailing the lift. As I’ve heard Tony Gentilcore say several times, “Lift with some purpose.” Don’t waste a ton of time setting up and over-thinking it. Too many times do I see people psych themselves out and miss a heavy lift. Missing a lift sucks and it really shouldn’t happen in the gym. So remember, lift with some passion and intensity and DOMINATE the weight!
Vulgar Display of Power (1992) – Track 4 – “F***ing Hostile”
Back when I played Pop Warner Football in the sixth and seventh grade (I was too big in eighth grade), I remember my dad telling me how football was a game of “controlled insanity.” I will never forget that phrase, especially since I’ve come to find out that what happens in the weight room is much the same. When you step on the football field or into the weight room, your mindset needs to immediately change. It’s time to get down to business and focus, not a time to mess around or go through the motions. That’s not to say that you can’t talk to anyone or crack a joke, but understand that things are different in the trenches. It’s the one place where you’re allowed to get HOSTILE.
Far Beyond Driven (1994) – Track 1 – “Strength Beyond Strength”
Socrates was quoted as saying, “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” I feel that it would do the average person a lot of good if they made it a priority to focus on increasing their strength levels. The benefits of getting stronger are too long to list here, but a few that quickly come to mind are an increase in lean muscle, increased bone density, and a lessened risk of injury. It’s important to build a solid foundation of strength and the typical gym go-er should continually strive to get stronger. As a powerlifter, I’m working hard to get stronger as well, but I don’t just want some “strength.” I want strength BEYOND strength. So in other words, keep lifting things up and putting them down.
The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) – Track 2 – “War Nerve”
I commonly think of my training sessions as, “Going to war against the iron,” or, “Fighting the war against gravity.” Similarly to what I said earlier about being hostile, when you step in the weight room and that war nerve is struck, it’s on. But don’t forget some important aspects of war. What would you do before a war to put yourself in the best position to come out victorious? You would prepare for it, right? So prepare yourself for what is going to transpire on the battlefield that is the weight room. Make sure you take time to warm up and do your foam rolling, mobility, movement prep, and corrective exercises. Get enough sleep and take care of your nutrition and hydration. Set yourself up for success when that nerve is struck, and win the WAR against the iron!
Reinventing the Steel (2000) – Track 3 – “Yesterday Don’t Mean Sh*t”
One of my favorite quotes of all-time is from former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. It goes as follows: “If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” Back in December, I competed in my first-ever powerlifting meet. I had specific goals going in, and I ended up achieving two out of three of them. I squatted 402 lbs., benched 281 lbs. (didn’t hit my goal of 300 lbs.), and deadlifted 524 lbs. All in all, I walked away with a smile on my face and was pretty happy. That’s all well and good, but come the next day, it was time to think of what I was going to do to make myself better and get stronger. My meet was in the past and preparations were already underway for my next meet this June. Achieving your goals and setting PRs are great, but the cool thing is that once this happens, you get to set new goals to work towards and you can push yourself even further. It’s important not to lose sight of what you’ve done, but if you continue to focus and dwell on these things, you’re missing out on future opportunities to improve. Ask yourself what you’ve done today, because YESTERDAY DON’T MEAN SH*T!
Hopefully now you realize some of the weightlifting lessons Pantera has taught us through their music. I encourage you to spread their message, and if you do, please spread it LOUDLY.
By the way, I want to adopt this kid…