James Pligge (Harms Way); Powerlifting Road Warrior

My name is James Pligge and I am the vocalist for the band Harms Way. I have been involved in weight lifting for around 15 years. Throughout that time I have learned many important things about my body as well as made many mistakes in regards to lifting weights. Early on I concentrated strictly on body building and in the last 6 years I have strictly concentrated on power lifting. I have competed 3 times in the organizations NASA and UPA. My best lifts in a meet to date are Bench 325, Deadlift 601, and Squat 470 lbs. In the gym my best lifts are pretty close and they are Bench 345, Deadlift 600, and Squat  505 lbs.

    One of the biggest obstacles when it comes to lifting weights for me is constantly being on the road. The inconsistency of a schedule and the poor dietary choices on the road make it very difficult to maintain and even more difficult to make any progress. However, it can be possible with good planning and strong discipline. One of the things that I try to do on the road is plan when my next lift is going to be. This is important because on tour some drives are 10 hours long and some are 4. I always try and organize my workout schedule based upon drive time so I am able to be ready to lift when the day comes. My goal each week is to lift one heavy lower body day and one heavy upper body day. Any other days I can get into the gym are a bonus, but I find being able to lift heavy allows me to maintain my strength and make a little progress as well. I basically follow a Conjugate Method style of lifting when I am at home, so on tour I use the same scheduling. For those who are not familiar with that, you have one heavy leg day either squat or deadlift and one heavy bench press day. Those days are then followed by two speed or repetition days for the squat, deadlift, and bench press which are used for lighter weights. As far as accessory lifts go, depending on how I feel each day I pick 3 or 4 of my weak points and concentrate on hitting those each week.

    Another obstacle that makes lifting on the road a challenge is finding a gym. There are thousands of gyms, however some are not powerlifting or bodybuilding friendly. One of the options you have is to buy a national membership at a place like Golds Gym or 24 Fitness, which allows you to go to any location throughout the USA. However, that can be expensive and not worth it depending on who you are and your availability to lift. Another option you have is to look up local gyms using Powerlifting Watch. They have a list of all the underground and powerlifting friendly gyms for that area. That is usually my best bet because the guest passes are cheap and I am not committed to any one gym throughout the country. Another option is find a YMCA. YMCA is a great place to work out because they really don’t give a shit what you do in there. It is always cheap and a lot of times even free. They have good enough equipment to get a workout in and you can basically do whatever you’d like without being scolded for slamming weights or using chalk.

    The last obstacle I will address on tour is diet. Now anyone who has toured knows that diet can be a nightmare on tour. This goes from eating very unhealthy to not eating enough.  You are constantly bombarded with snacks, fast food, and sodas that will not really help your body, lifting or not.  Now fortunately I have great genetics and my diet does not affect how I look at this point in my life. However, I still try to eat the best I can when I am on tour. One of the best places to eat in my opinion is Chipotle. Chipotle has lean meats, vegetables and brown rice which makes it a complete meal that is filling and nutritious.  If you make sure you get a burrito bowl instead of a burrito, it makes it even more of a nutritious meal.  Now my band sometimes gets sick of going there, but I can eat it every day and not get sick of it haha. Obviously another good way is to bring boxes of protein bars, protein powder, and pre-made protein drinks. All of those things will help you in staying away from all the horrible snacks that are around you constantly at gas stations.  Another good idea on tour is to try and keep track of your macronutrients. This allows you to stretch your diet to a lot of different choices, but still keeps you in the correct protein, fat, and carbohydrate range. This way you have more flexibility on your diet, but are still able to watch your caloric intake to maintain or lose weight.  Now if you are trying to gain weight or mass my recommendation is to eat as many quality calories as possible on tour because calories are your friend and sometimes you are only taking in one or two meals per day.

    Overall working out on tour is not easy. There is many times where you feel like just taking a day off or just waiting until you get home. If you are serious about lifting and gaining strength, you have to find a way to make it work on tour. Flexibility is important and you have to be willing to work out at a Planet Fitness if that is the only option available. Make sure you have a gym bag all packed up with your chalk, supplements, belt and any wraps you may use. That way at any time you’re ready to go. Lifting isn’t easy to begin with and on tour it is even harder, however if you make it part of tour just like it’s part of your life then you will have no problem continuing to make progress as a weight lifter.