So over at the T-nation website, I read a provocative article by Mike Mahler on sledgehammer/sandbag training. Although I like odd lifts, I was moved more by his observations on a new generation of lifters:
"I confess: I do not have a favorable impression of young men in the 16-to-24-year-old age group. I get emails from them on a daily basis, and in my experience they're looking to be spoon-fed free information. The free articles on my website (not to mention the thousands on T-Nation) aren't enough. Using them would require some research, God forbid, and that would eat into their PlayStation time. Instead they ask me questions like this:
"What's the best program in the world for building big guns?"
"What supplements should I be taking?" (Hint: If you don't have any money, the answer is none. Focus on food.)
"How can I get a six-pack in time for spring break?" (This is typically asked a week before spring break.)
"In the past I've made the mistake of answering emails like these, only to be bombarded with 15 follow-up emails asking increasingly moronic questions...
"Most of us under 40 are addicted to entertainment. The younger you are, the greater your need to be entertained at all times. That's why I call the kids who're 16 to 24 'Generation Entertainment' (or Gen Ent if you're into that whole brevity thing).
"When we aren't watching four hours of TV every night, we're surfing the Web or sending idiotic text messages to our friends laced with infuriating acronyms. As a result, we're getting fatter and weaker. Even worse, we've lost any semblance of mental toughness. We have no concept of sacrifice.
"Since we've screened out anything that isn't entertaining, few of us can slog through weeks and months of boring training. But the problem is even worse for Gen Ent. Unless training is fun and consistently stimulating, the dumbbells will gather dust long before any of it appears on the Game Cube."
As a 38 year old cop and trainer having dealt with trainees of all ages, I agree with a lot of what Mike says. But let me add a few spins to his article. For one thing, I don't think this wuss factor is exclusive just to the 16-24 year range. I see it in trainees as old as the early 40's.
Just last month, I came back from a Field Training Officer (FTO) update course. FTO's are patrol officers who train new officers out in the field. This very topic, Generation Wussy, came up. The older FTO's started bitchin' about how the new generation of recruits (Millenials) didn't have any life experiences or responsibilities that toughened them up for the demands of the street.
The funny thing is I heard this same argument about 6 years ago when I attended my first FTO course. The baby boomers were bitchin' about how every generation after them (Generation X and Millenials) were wussies who had no life experience (like war) to deal with the street.
The thing is that there will always be generational differences. You can't fault a generation for not having life experiences if they're just coming on to the scene. Some kids have never been drafted into war, dealt with racism and adversity, played sports, been in customer service, created a business, lived on their own, etc. They've never had to take care of others. Hell, some of them don't even know how to take care of themselves.
What we can fault these little brats for is when they have a poor attitude and feel entitled to everything. As a Gen X'er, my advice to the younger folk is to maintain a good attitude, work hard but smart, treat other people with respect, constantly grow and develop as a person, and understand that you will have to prove yourself out in the real world. You are not entitled to anything. You have to earn everything.
I majored in psychology prior to law enforcement, but I realized I didn't know crap about dealing with people until I became a cop. But you know what? I developed into the role just fine. Realize that although you may not have the life experiences yet, you will grow and develop into whatever role you choose.