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Ben Pollack is one of this generation’s greatest lifters and geniuses, a physical culture expert, world record holder and US Open powerlifting champion. Know as “PhDeadlift” on social media, Ben is currently wrapping up his PhD and is one of the most educated and insightful competitors to grace the platform. Check out his site at phdeadlift.com.Confession time: I’m a preworkout junkie.  The adrenaline rush from lifting alone is great, but combine that with a boatload of caffeine and every other stimulant under the sun, and even light training days can feel more exciting.  Plus, all that extra energy obviously has a performance-enhancing effect, as well.Or does it?In reality, as fun and useful as stimulants can be for lifting, they can be really detrimental, too — especially if you tend to rely on them too much, or find that you can’t lift well without them.  The problem is compounded by most of the preworkout products on the market, which are loaded not only with caffeine, but also with a bunch of other new-wave stimulating compounds that can enhance both the benefits and drawbacks of more common pick-me-ups like caffeine.Dave Tate has explained why preworkouts don’t work for him, and I strongly suggest you take a look at his thoughts on the matter.  Chris Duffin and Chad Wesley Smith agree.  And I also suggest that, if you’re using lots of stimulants, that you pay careful attention to a few particular areas of your training: Regulating EffortOne of the most important parts of making long-term progress involves learning to regulate your effort when you train.  On some days, or at certain times during a training cycle, you’ll want to push yourself close to your limits, in order to create the necessary stimulus to build strength and muscle.  At other times, you’ll want to train less intensely...

Ben Pollack is one of this generation’s greatest lifters and geniuses, a physical culture expert, world record holder and US Open powerlifting champion. Know as “PhDeadlift” on social media, Ben is currently wrapping up his PhD and is one of the most educated and insightful competitors to grace the platform. Check out his site at phdeadlift.com. I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat with Chris Duffin about training recently.  It was a great conversation because we both have a similar mental approach to training: if we’re going to make it worthwhile, we need to go into the gym with a very concrete goal in mind.  And the more frequently we do that, the better.  While light days have their place in any sound training program, they’re just not fun.But as Chris pointed out, training doesn’t always have to be fun.  He put it really simply: training is your job.  I love that analogy, because I think it captures the essence of what makes a successful program and a successful lifter.  In the rest of this article, and in the video below, I’ll go into more detail about what that means, and how you can apply it to your own plan. Staying Consistent Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to strength, and just like you can’t skip work because you’re “not feeling it,” you can’t skip training without a good reason, either.  Of course, just like you might take the occasional sick day from work when you have the flu, there are legitimate reasons to pass on the gym.  If you’re sick, injured, or you have a really significant life event that precludes you from following your plan, you’re not going to help yourself by trying somehow to train anyway.But for the most part, you should take steps to...