German Theological Training and German Volume Training
I am the first person who wishes for a quick fix. If I can honestly speak, I would say that crying babies are at the top of my list, closely followed by a quick fix for stubborn stomach fat. And yet, in my previous blog post asserts, Building Virtue and a 500 lb deadlift Volume, Intensity, and Frequency is really the only way to achieve that, and for that matter, anything worth achieving requires a blend of these things.
I think I’ve also mentioned how I’m blessed to have a weight set in my basement, and with that, an opportunity to see blaringly clear–records, raw numbers, personal bests and such. If someone breaks a record, the name goes up. As of this entry, my kid brother has been the only visitor to break one.
And my Pride.
Currently serving in the Navy, Brother visited in 2017, did about 10 pull-ups to beat my meager record and frankly would have easily done a few more but he didn’t want to embarrass me. Day after day, for the last year, it’s been up on the wall, a forever reminder to my own weakness in my physical fitness. Having my weight jump since college, I’ve chosen to avoid pull-ups. In focusing on benching, deadlifting, etc, I’ve been able to delude myself that I’m stronger/healthier, what have you, than I actually am without necessarily being holistically strong or healthy. Like all records, a person can only delude themselves for so long and I think I’m finally fed up.
Like most things, I’ve also needed a change in my prayer life as well as my physical routine. With all the recent happenings in the Church, lay faithful have been turned every which way. Deluded by the sentiment of the last 16 years of mostly scandal-free Catholic press, we have found the truth set free this summer and with it several dissenting stories and quick fixes. To know which one is which is boggling and to repeat Herod’s haunting take when looking Christ in the eye, “What is Truth?”.
My pride leads me to suggest a couple more solutions to add to the confusion, a dissertation of theories, a housecleaning.
Yet, we are called to humility. And with any sort of achievement, we require the volume, intensity, and frequency.
We can all agree on prayer as a solution, and might as well check in on how that’s going for me too.
Usually a smattering of different rotating private devotions and a healthy amount of scripture and catechism, I tend to pray every day. My middle school students will go through the entire catechism from 6-8th grade and a good portion of the bible so I read a lot for class. Every November, I instate a rat race of sorts for the middle school, pitting the classes to pray the St. Gertrude Prayer as many times as they devoutly can. I pray with my kids before meals and bedtime. It tends to be my job which allows for this sort of volume and frequency and of course, my fatherly vocation to instill some frequency of prayer for my children.
If I humbly consider my prayer life in these terms, I’ve been focusing on these outlets instead of a real need in our church for more, a greater rigor. Maybe I’ve been leaning too much on these tasks as a job in the same way I leaned on my brother’s physical successes. Like pull-ups, I was focusing more on what could make me appear strong and healthy and lapsing my commitment to praying for that holistic spiritual health. Let’s be honest- I need more intensity and more volume. Our church is desperate for it.
My main mentor in physical fitness is Charles Poliquin. The self-proclaimed Strength Sensai, this guy has coached Gold medalists in 17 different sports. This man is versatile and brilliant. I looked at an answer he gave regarding a strong back for the military, the principle drawn from German Volume Training.
German Volume Training- 10 sets of 10 reps of squats with the same weight, replacing squats for pull-ups; After 1 set of pull-ups, you “superset” with an exercise working the agonist muscles. (bench, incline, decline bench). Ideally switching agonist lift every two-three sets. If you complete all sets of pull-ups the next lift you try to increase the reps of each set by 1.
Example Week 1: 10 sets of 1. Week 2: 10 sets of 2.
There is more than one great spiritual mentor to choose from in our faith. What has been most compelling has been the call for the rosary, “The weapon of these times” (Padre Pio). Echoing the victory of Lepanto, I’m hopeful to do my part, humble as it may be, to reclaim a victory over evil with the power of our Blessed Mother’s intercession.
My solution is to pray the rosary every day as soon as the kids are asleep. In the same regimen of German Volume Training, I will increase, week 2, 2 rosaries, week 3, 3 rosaries;
In part 2 I will discuss the results of my training. It is my hope to show you real, proven, and actionable things to help improve your spiritual life and build virtue.
Happy Gains and Christ’s Peace.
Neal is a husband, father of 2 and 1 on the way, Middle School religion teacher, Youth Minister, Faith Formation Coordinator, nerd, weightlifter, and sports enthusiast.