Who Should I Be Competing Against In The Weight Room?

Who Should I Be Competing Against in the Weight Room? Another or Myself?



“The only thing that I see, that is distinctly different about me, is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill.  I will not be outworked. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me. But if we get on a treadmill together, there are two things, either you’re getting off first or I am going to die”.  It’s as simple as you are not going to outwork me…If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready” – Will Smith


Competition is a word that triggers a great deal of debate, especially in the US.  Why? Because in our society, we think of competition as WINNING and LOSING. We often forget that competition goes well beyond that.  


I have grown to especially dislike this phrase when it comes to athletes.  I don’t care whether you are playing a team sport or individual sport, you are competing against something or someone whether you realize it or not.  If you are not competing then it is impossible to sit there and say you gave every ounce of effort.


An even more spirited debate is the question of whether competition is genetic or learned.  There are certainly arguments for both views. With an open mind, think about competition as “Culturally Created.”  This means that the value of what competition represents is going to be different among different cultures. Old School mentalities believe competition is human nature.  But be careful with that thought process and without going down the path of Psychology. I suggest you be your own student and read what the literature has to say, however, I would like you to think about these questions first:

What is your purpose for training?

What Motivates you?

How good are your effort and attitude?  


The beautiful part about strength and conditioning is you get to compete against yourself.  You don’t need to view competition negatively or as just winning and losing. One can simply view competition as your motivation, goals, effort, and attitude.  One of the best examples I can give is when we pull out our laser timing systems for testing sprints. Often I pull them out because of the simple fact that it makes our athletes sprint all out even during an individual session.  No matter what the reading, the athlete sprints back to me just as fast, to find out the result. That is usually followed by, “was that a good time”, “am I slow”, “can we run one more” and “I know I can beat that”. That competition is automatically against one’s self.  Now knowing that scenario, imagine what happens when I bring lasers out to a small group of athletes. The whole session turns into a group of athletes giving everything they have in a sprint, simply because they want to be the fastest. That’s what being a competitive athlete is about, giving everything you have. How different were these two events?


If you know anything about Athletes Warehouse, you know that our culture is what makes this a special place.  We have an environment of athletes competing against themselves, against others in their group, even against athletes in other states that they don’t even know.  The best part is, it has nothing to do with weight on a barbell or a time on a 40. More importantly, it has absolutely nothing to do with WINNING OR LOSING. It has everything to do with your purpose for training, your motivation, your effort, and attitude.  How we view competition in the weight room is how we view everything that we do in our lives and that is what we want the main message to be to our young athletes.



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Matt June

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