This is one of those posts that I write because I find myself complaining, and then realise that I shouldn’t be. So I try to understand what got me to complain in the first place, and how to resolve the issue. This article is my answer. If you know Tony Robbins, a lot of concepts that are used in this article come from his RPM program which I highly recommend if you are a time-starved control freak that wants to do everything at the same time and is going crazy with his / her life right now.
The story that led to this :
About a moth ago, I overtrained myself… It was a 6 month process that piled up slowly but surely. I had been using bands to accommodate resistance on box squats, and had never really measured how much tension the bands actually held. I started getting really really tired, grumpy, losing energy, craving carbs, feeling unmotivated, my libido was going down, I was feeling depressed, the quality of my sleep started going down ( tracked with sleep cycle).
I decided to buy an industrial hand-held scale, and found out I was doing over 90% training in the squat twice a week for the past 9 weeks… yippee. (I’ll Write an article on the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method and add a table of band tension soon one else gets confused like I did).
In this “fabulous » state of mind, and before I actually understood what was going on, I went to the gym to find out the gym threw away about 2/3 of the bars, leaving only a fe for the whole gym. Needless to say there were none available. So I couldn’t train the way I wanted, and had to wait for 35 minutes while this asshole went to do his ridiculous 5 exercise circuit where he waited about 2:30s PER EXERCISE, giving us a whooping 10 min circuit, taking up half the freakin’ gym. The idea of a circuit is that you don’t take breaks and work different muscles groups to reduce training time… no make the sessions longer… I don’t know what the hell he was doing…
And this happened again, in another gym I go to. Only this time I was prepared. I had a plan B.
I figured that you can’t control everything. I tend to try and get everything perfect all the time. Which seldom happens. So I bail and then just walk away only to come back later, clean slate, and try again and fail again. Not a great strategy…
The good thing about that is that I realise I DO have perseverance. Not short term perseverance but long term perseverance. I will keep trying for 10 years in different bouts, here and there until I finally get things right. I’m a long term player. Unfortunately, I’m sure I would have much more success if I didn’t let the little things in life get in my way. Things like full gyms, a bad night of sleep, a day when I feel sad, times of no money, etc etc…
So I decided that whenever things don’t go as planned (because that is another issue, I procrastinate by over-planning things and then bail out. Took me about 15 years to figure that one out, maybe you’re like that too?) I would find a way to make them work anyway but working around them. Figuring out what the goal is and to find an equivalent way that will short circuit, or circumvent, the issue at hand. That way I stay on track, and I’m happy.
Because I get pissed off when things don’t go as planned. I get really really really mad. So I mitigate things by adding a security valve, an option in case things don’t go like I expect.
This is how you do this : If you have a plan for something you are about to do, let’s use training as the main example, figure out WHAT you want to get out of what you are doing. If all you are doing is following a plan that someone gave you, that you downloaded off the web, that you read in a book, then I have news for you… you’re in deep shit.
If you don’t know WHAT the goal of each exercise you are executing is providing, first of all you are probably not doing the exercise correctly.You have no clue what you are working on, you aren’t focusing on what muscles need to work, the posture you should be taking, the speed at which you should be working, and why the hell is this 20 reps instead of the usual 2? Secondly, if you can’t do exactly what you planned, how will you get the similar benefits if you don’t know what the benefits are? You have no plasticity, no improvisation possibility.
So THAT is the primary thing you have to focus on in a given session. The WHAT will allow you to work around anything that might come up to stop you from doing what you want.
This is the underlying thread that connects every session, every micro cycle, every macro cycle, in your training. It is things like “I want to be stronger”, “I want to have huge muscles”, “I want to know I can defend myself”, “Because I enjoy it”, “I want to be Numero Uno in the world”, “I promised my grandmother I’d become the strongest man in the world” (That was Eddie Halls WHY).
This is crucial because it will push you through hard times, or in other cases help you figure out what is important in the long run.
The HOW is the actual work. The steps to take now, the action you’re taking to get to your WHAT to fulfil your WHY. The HOW is both the most and the leas important brick of this whole layout It is the most important because if you don’t do anything you’ll never get anywhere, and it’s the least important because you can do several things to get to your WHAT. Still following?
So if the plan is going to shit (the HOW), if you don’t have the apparatus, if the gym is closed, if you wake up with a stiff neck, if you catch the flu, go back to the goal (The WHAT), and figure out another way to make it happen.
No squat bar and you need to do a 1 Rep Squat Max? What was the goad? To test your maximal strength in legs and back. Go and do a Leg Press Max. It might not be exactly the same, but compare it to an old leg press max and see if you got better. If you did you have increased your strength.
No benches for your bench press? No worries, lie on the floor and do a floor press. It’ll increase your bench by taking the legs and pecs out of the equation.
If there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY (and this is all in your head) for you to work around a bad day. Then you can go home and come back another day. Make it a rest day, go stretch, take care of your body. One postponed day won’t hurt your progress. It’s the compounded progress you make on a daily, weekly, monthly basis that will take you to where you need to go.
To break it down to y’all, you basically have a basic need (WHY) that drives you to a specific goal (WANT), and you make a plan (HOW), to get to it. The plan is only a means to and end. So how you get there isn’t as important as getting there. And getting there isn’t as important as why you went there. Because maybe your current goal isn’t what is going to fulfil you. But there’s only one way to find that out 😉 .
So do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and most important of all…
Take it easy.