This mantra is one that I learned back in Basic Training. One of my drill sergeants was reaming us all good one day as he was instructing us in the procedure of how to break and enter a building, to then clear a room. We were all struggling, trying to essentially panic through the movements, not working cohesively as a team either. Needlessly to say, our drill sergeant was becoming rather infuriated. He put a halt to the training exercise where he then gathered us into a huddle where he continued yelling at us, but the mantra of, "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast," echoed from his mouth, tearing through my ears, situated itself firmly into my brain. Ever since, I have repeated this throughout many of my difficulties that I have faced thereafter.
The essence of, "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast," is that even when one lacks the knowledge of how to execute, one can always begin small, begin slow,. until such time that one obtains the knowledge necessary to execute, in which case, the smooth will become fast. It is the simplicity of the words equating to a novice building her/himself up to the point that she/he becomes an adept then a master at whatever needs to be executed. The foundations, the fundamentals are key to becoming great. Without the rudiments, the essentials of construction, one will never achieve the goals one sets for oneself. If one believes that she/he can merely waltz into something expecting to achieve and overcome, she/he will never amount to the greatness that spawns from the work that is put in to actually achieve and overcome.
Slow is smooth; smooth is fast can be extended to control, control of one's emotions, one's mentality, one's physicality, even one's psyche. Everyone goes through periods where one is absolutely lost, has entered an abyss where only fog awaits to ravage one completely. However, there is a way to escape this abyss. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. Begin with the basics of what needs to be overcome, work to master these basics, establish a foundation, then rebound to overcome the abyss. One will find her/himself into the light almost without realization, but when the realization does occur, one will smile in pure ecstasy as to how far one has traveled, how much one as overcome, how many goals have been achieved.
Control is indispensable as well with regards to training. One needs to have control over diet, over exercise, over motivation, all of which can be spawned from mastering the basics to become adept. Imagine that someone desires to lift 300 pounds, but has never lifted more than bodyweight. The basics of lifting require one to lift lighter than bodyweight to develop the joints and muscles that are required to execute the lift, such as the kinetic chain which is composed of the calves, quads, hamstrings, hips when executing a squat, deadlift, or clean. The majority of the Olympic and Power lifts are rather difficult to execute safely and effectively without the proper basic mechanics. One must perform these lifts with light weight, even just a broom stick, to be able to develop the mechanics efficiently so that when one begins to add heavier and heavier weight, the lift spawns directly from these basics to be able to lift the heavier and heavier weight. Thus, slow is smooth; smooth is fast.
Certain muscle groups actually benefit greatly from controlled, slow movements. The abdominals, one of the most desired well-chiseled section of the body for almost everybody, is greatly impacted by controlled, slow movements as these particular set of movements allow for all of the muscles of the abdominals to be affected as the abdominals are one of the largest muscle groups of the body, they can be trained more often, though still treated as other muscle groups. While performing abdominal or core exercises, the abdominals and core responds more efficiently to slow movements as it will recruit more and more muscle fibers which will greatly increase the impact the exercise will have upon the abdominals as the large muscle group can endure far more punishment than other muscle groups.
Motivation lies from within, though can be spawned from without. Internal and external motivation are the keys to being able to perform to the best of one's ability. What makes you want to fight? What gives you your drive? What sparks the fire within? Ponder this, that is what will motivate you.
Rise as a Phoenix; Strike as a Thunderbird
Cara here, Eric's sister! Eric trains me and provides me with different exercise routines based on what I am wanting to achieve. I enjoy changing up my workouts as I work towards various challenges. Eric and I spoke at length regarding what I deadlift and squat. He felt that I should be lifting far more. He wanted me to have the capability to lift 1.25 times my body weight. Thus began the challenge of increasing my strength for the next 4 months, my end goal being to lift 150lbs on deadlifts as well as squats, and 105lbs on bench.
I began my journey in May. I looked at my routine consisting of 6 exercises, 3 days a week. The routine called for increasing weight quite rapidly at 5 pound increments each week. I started at 90 lbs on deadlift and squat. It was easier at first with lower weight, but there were times I could tell I was deadlifting and squatting incorrectly. I would explain to Eric what I was doing and show him videos. He tweaked my technique slightly with different hand placement then voila! Like magic everything was much better! My hip no longer hurt and I could lift better. I am glad that I learned that on the lower weights as it would have been most unfortunate, if not dangerous, on the heavier lifts.
Given that the routine called for progression of 5 pounds each week, I felt slightly intimidated yet thrilled to see myself kill the weights each week. I could feel myself getting stronger and noticed the reps were even easier than they had been the previous week.
The deadlifts were my most challenging exercise - to get the form correct each time as well as the lifting of so much weight relative to my body. I had this mindset I had to overcome to be able to continue lifting heavier. For some reason putting a 45 pound plate on each side seemed rather heavy. Well for me, it was! 135lbs and well into my third month at this point, this was my first struggle to fully overcome. I remember when I placed those plates on each side. First, I was excited to finally be getting those plates on the bar, but second, was concerned I wouldn't be able to lift it. Boy, was I wrong! I killed those sets and was quite proud of myself. Those small feats helped along the way to achieving my ultimate goal.
At this point, I told myself, “Ok, it is only 15 more pounds now until I achieve my goal, no big deal whatsoever. Well, unfortunately, it was not as smooth a ride to increase those 15 pounds as I had hoped. I couldn't increase in weight as quickly anymore. There were days when I could only get a few reps in at 140 or 145lbs. Fatigue and frustration were setting in from working so much, wanting to hit that last goal, and accomplishing it. As the final week approached, I had already accomplished my squat and bench press goals, and had just one last goal to accomplish, deadlifts. I remember telling Eric, “This is the last week, Saturday is my last day. I'm going to deadlift that 150lbs whether it is all sets, 1 set or 1 rep. But I'm done. Hah.” I was a bit tired of this routine by now. Eric said, “You'll hit more than 1 rep.”
That last day I went in to the gym. Made sure it was a Saturday so that I could be rested longer than waking up at 4:30am (my normal gym time before work). Stacked the weight to 150 on the bar and BAM! Got 3 reps in before my mind said, “You're done.” Probably could have gotten in 1 more rep but mentally I was done and had achieved the goal! It was an amazing feeling, proving to myself that I could do it. Now for a little rest in between the next goals then on to the next challenge!
Check out our Instagram feed @10xcircuit for pictures/videos of progression.
When I first started training nearly a decade ago, I had no earthly idea of where to start or how to start. I merely replicated what I saw on television as well as what I thought could drive my body to exhaustion. I remember becoming enthralled with exercising in the summer of my ninth grade year of high school where I lost all of my "baby fat." I can recall biking, running, swimming, playing basketball (any sport really, especially when my friends and I were together), but only ever barely glancing at weights as I was frightened by the aspect of not knowing how to use them.
As the summer ended, possibly a month before my sophomore year of high school began, I recall being at the local Wal Mart with my father. We ventured into the fitness aisle, the aisle with all of the weights, fitness apparatus, and other various equipment, where I had the notion to discover if I could lift a twenty pound dumbbell.
I could not.
Even budge it.
It was a dreadful feeling.
Compounded by the fact when my father easily lifted the dumbbell without a thought, saying "What? You can't do this?"
Instantly though, I felt compelled to become stronger, much stronger. I thought back to the entire summer where I "worked out" but realized it was all aerobic training, with hardly even any body-weight resistance training.
This was my wake up call. From then on out, I became obsessed with not only exercising or working out, but training. I received a weight bench and set later during the school semester where I learned how to perform various lifts, my natural athletic prowess yielding the lifts to come rather easy to me, but merely revolving around the few core exercises that I knew of at the time (not very much, that is, which is good, but not great for explosive progression or "gainz").
I trained hard, researching all over the internet for good exercises, but still was rather blind to true training, until such time I took weightlifting in high school, later trying out for the weightlifting team. The first time I ever performed a clean was at this tryout, where I maxed out a 135 pounds, 5 pounds over my body-weight. I made the team then began truly training for strength. My strength expounded and expanded greatly in just a year where I was lifting 155 on clean and jerk and 165 on bench press. Good for a beginner, but not great.
Then, I joined the football team, trained over the summer, gained ten pounds, gained more strength, continued training, continued with weightlifting, going to districts, injured my shoulder, lost strength, built it back, ended high school with 180 pound clean and jerk and 195 pound bench press, continued training, developed my own training modality of 10XCircuit, whereby finally in November of last year, I maxed out at 350 pounds on squats, 335 pounds on deadlift, and 250 pounds on bench press. This past summer however, I was repping 300 on squat and deadlift as well as 200 on bench press. My strength has become, in some levels, elite strength. And I have never felt better.
Especially now that I can beat my dad in arm wrestling, a yearly tradition we perform since I began training so long ago and could not even push his arm before my hand was down.