Speaking on the podcast yesterday was a very surreal experience for me. I was on as usual with my co-host Glenn Pendlay as we caught up with ex Cal Strength/MDUSA athlete Kevin Cornell. I grew up in the sport watching these guys. I used to watch Kevin in awe of his speed and Glenn in awe of his coaching and the teams he had managed to create. And so yesterday as I sat with my laptop recording all three of us I became very aware of the situation I was in. I did my best to simply act as a mediator while the other two chatted about the good old days and their current projects…

As the three of us spoke the topic of atmosphere came up and how important it is in cultivating a blossoming team. Glenn of course used his teams with Kevin as an examples, but then drew upon my experience when training out in Kansas with him and the competitive atmosphere we managed to create. What I realised in that moment was that irregardless of recovery, diet, and the ‘perfect program’, competition was most important.

I like to think to myself that I am doing everything I can to be the best weightlifter. There are times where due to an injury or a particularly busy spell at work I am well aware that training is sub par, but generally I know that I sleep enough, I eat well, and I train really hard. It is a nice thing to think, that you are doing as well as you can, but it isn’t true. Deep down I know that it isn’t true, and Kevin and Glenn’s conversation really reminded me about that. So on the podcast I explained to the two of them and the hundreds of listeners we now have that really I know deep inside that if I truly wanted to be the best I would fly out to Kansas or wherever and train in a more competitive environment.

It is almost upsetting to know that if I had remained in Kansas training two sessions a day with the guys I met out there, that I would now without a shadow of a doubt be lifting more than I currently am. It doesn’t matter how good my program is here, or how well I manage my time and recovery, the fact remains that should I have stayed in Kansas I would be a better athlete.

I flew out there with several other weightlifters and I can say with absolute certainty that we would all be better lifters right now had we never flown home.

This is not to say that the right choice is to stay, it really comes down to what you prioritise most: family nearby, your girlfriend, a familiar town, your job etc. I think however it is time to realise that for those of us, the majority of us who do not ditch everything to chase the atmosphere, that perhaps succeeding in weightlifting is not as much of a priority as we like to believe it is, and that however much we profess to others that we are doing everything we can to be the best, we most definitely are not.

If you want to be the best, pack up and go.