Looks vs performance

I have been a little busy of late and honestly have been slacking off on doing these lately, so I apologize for my lack motivation. Let’s jump right into it though

Should we train for looks or performance? I would almost always say 100% without a doubt that you should always train for performance. In my opinion, training for performance allows you to set real concrete goals and work toward that goal.

I do believe there is a large problem with training for looks, well unless you are a legit body builder and are going to step on stage, that’s a different game. However, for the general public that wants to train, training for looks is a pretty depressing and fruitless indeavor, and it’s a mindset that can really suck you in. This way of training doesn’t produce anything but body dismorphea and an unhealthy eating disorder.

Let me explain, i do not think ever in my time doing this have I ever met somebody that is 100% happy with the way they look including myself. It’s always something, and in many instances it can vary from day to day. Which to me, means that it’s subjective, subjective on your mental state, subjective on other people’s opinions of what bodies are supposed to look like. The other thing is bodies vary so widely, genetically, on what they can look like. So, you see somebody that you want to look like in a magazine or on social media, and it may be absolutely impossible for you to look like that. That can really effect your mental state.

Instead though, training for performance, is the best, funnest and most engaging way to train in my opinion. It can vary widely on goals and can change and grow based on your interest. Maybe, your a guy that wants to hit a 225lbs bench press. Put a plan together and smash it. Once you get there, maybe it’s 20 strict pull ups, or a double body weight back squat. The ideas are almost infinite and in many cases can build off of each other making you increasingly better after reaching each goal.

Other great thing about training this way is that the body will just naturally come with it. If you focus on making your physique stronger then usually it will increasingly be a better physique. Feeling physically strong can be one of the most empowering things, and is a status symbol that can be powerful because it can never be bought, it just takes a lot of hard work.

Train hard, make less excuses.

We Are All Insignificant.

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote anything, and maybe that’s a good thing, but I have been thinking a lot lately and wanted to get some ideas out.

” We are all equally insignificant,” I don’t remember exactly where I heard this but I know it was not my original thought. However, I really believe this and it’s not a bad thing in my eyes or a demeaning thing. I think it is a really good mental exercise though.

I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with physical training out right, but it can definitely be used to establish a good mentality for training or any other venture in life. I try to think of the vastness of the people on the planet. So many people, doing so many things right, with different beliefs and different norms. Just about all of them have no idea I’m a person and if I was gone tomorrow it wouldn’t effect there life one bit. Now you could do this exercise with everyone on the planet and the answers almost always going to be the same right down to your next door neighbor or your best friend.

I know this is kind of morbid, but think about it, if you died tomorrow your neighbor might come to your house and pay their respects but other than that, they are going to go to work and raise their family and carry on with their lives and that’s not a bad thing, you would do the same thing if they died. I hope I’m not losing everybody yet, it gets better. This works with anyone, think about influential people that you hold in high regard, and if they die? Are things going to change drastically for you? I’ve done this exercise a lot, and almost always the answer is no if I really think about it.

Now I’m not talking about the emotional toll losing a loved one can have on a person, I’m merely talking about in the grand scheme of the world functioning, nobody really has anymore worth than anybody else.

This is my point, worth is not really relative, the only person it is relative to is ourselves when we get in our own heads. Whether we think we are worth more or less than other people, its all wrong.

Self worth is where it is at for me, and the more I work hard and fix my flaws the better I feel about myself. That can turn you into a contributor, our contributions are what last, it might just be to the people closest to us, but that’s okay with me.

This can also help in training, because if we are all insignificant then nobody has a leg up on anyone else it’s going to have to be all about hard work and dedication and no excuses. It’s also good to remember when you are at work, I always remind myself that I am replacable, somebody can definitely do my job, so I try to work hard to keep my job as secure as possible. It’s fuel to be better. Try it.

That’s all I got today.

Train hard, make less excuses.

What Do Genetics Do?

Do genetics matter when training? Of course they do! Kind of..

If that answer seems confusing I accomplished exactly what I was trying to. The line is blurred and it’s not always obvious what is genetic and what is hard work, but there are some things that are definitely genetic and some things that are definitely not. A good and obvious example of Genetic gifts would be what LeBron James was born with to play basketball vs. me. He’s 6’9ish ripped, fast, smart, great cardio. Is some of this because he trains hard, of course. But if anybody said I could work hard and play basketball as good as LeBron I would laugh in there face. Another example I once heard is that Bo Jackson could dunk a basketball when he was 12, I doubt Bo was doing much jump training in those days, and I could have spent my life training to dunk a basketball and it would have never happened when I was 12. So people do have some obvious gifts, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t train because of where are limits are, chances are we won’t reach those limits anyway.

So, first I would say, acknowledge that genetic gifts exist, understand that you are probably not going to be the best at everything or even one thing for most of us, but strive to push yourself to be the best you can be, and don’t use genetics as an excuse for why some people are better than you. I am going to beat a dead horse here, but excuses in general are not a productive way to approach your life. Even if you could argue that the excuse is valid. I bring the genetics argument up because so many guys that are regular lifters see a guy that is bigger, leaner, or just better and think that it’s because he has better genetics, or he’s on gear. When in reality maybe this person is just more disciplined. When you see somebody like that, you shouldn’t accuse them of cheating, you should ask yourself what you are doing. Are you sleeping enough? Hows your diet? How much alcohol do you drink? And the last question that everybody usually skips, are you actually training hard?

I think everyone should train for themselves and focus on meeting the top of their own genetic potential, it sounds cliche but if you constantly worry about what everybody else is doing you are probably always going to feel like you are never doing enough, because people hide the parts of their lives they are failing in or need lots of work at. I will tell you that for almost all of us we are never going to hit our genetic potential in most things, and it’s because we have lives that are busy and hectic and we don’t have time to consistently focus on thing, day in and day out.

Because of that there is a bright side, if we do the right things… Eat right, train hard, take care of our shit, we should be able to constantly improve over a long enough time line. We may have to adjust at times and refocus but life is a marathon and there is always time to kick it up a notch.

Train hard, make less excuses

Effective Training

We’ve all seen this, He/she walks in the gym, straight to the dumbbell rack, no warm up, right into bicep curls. Set those down for the next thing, calf raises, finishing off with tricep extensions. I want to shake these people and explain to them they are literally waisting their time. Now, look I know we all start somewhere, we all have to learn and it takes time. However, the internet is filled with a million different good workout routines, you can literally type in what you are trying to accomplish and you will get thousands of different programs.

I’ve already talked about the most important movements I think people should do, so I won’t dive into specific exercises, but come on guys, it’s common sense, the farther you move a weight and the more weight that you use, the stronger you are going to get. Who really needs to do calf raises? Some bodybuilder that is dialing in his training to get that last edge in order to be more symmetrical, that’s really it.

Bicep curls are great as an accessory movement, but if you want real results, and want to build real strength please focus your training around large, multi joint, compound movements (squats, presses, cleans, deadlifts). It’s not complicated but it is hard. I’m so tired of seeing this time and time again.

I have been doing this long enough now that I train instinctively. I use to write all my workouts down and make sure I was hitting things very regimented, but I have found over the years that I listen to my body and I also know what I need to do, and what I need to work on. There are no real surprises anymore if I slack off in one area I can feel it, and so I know what to change accordingly.

My training is still fairly regimented though. I squat on Monday’s, for a couple of reasons, Sundays are for the family so I usually don’t train that day. So, Monday I am coming off a rest day, this means I usually feel pretty good Monday. The other reason I do it, is purely for convience, most people want to bench so I know it’s going to be easier to squat if I am in a big gym. Tuesdays, I press, bench, overhead, push up, dips etc… All pressing things. Wednesday I pull, pull ups, cleans, bent over rows, deadlift, dumbbell rows etc… Thursday is usually cardio and anything I feel like I have neglected, snatches, core, things like that. Friday, is like a hard CrossFit day, lots of metabolic conditioning and more squatting, Saturday is dependent on how I feel, and Sunday is an off day. I also may take one other rest day in there depending on how I feel.

Back to no warm up, micro movement guy/gal. Please, do your research, the other thing you are not doing is burning any Calories at all or energy, or requiring your body to adapt. Adaptation is key to building strength, so you have to do hard things to require the body to adapt. Also, warm up for heaven’s sake, if you really don’t want to train much keep not warming up, you will be injured constantly, especially as you age.

Do your research and train hard, this day and age there is no real excuse on not knowing what to do, between Google and YouTube nothing should be unknown. I can help anyone that needs it as well. So reach out if needed.

Train hard, make less excuses.

Training Through Injury

Training through injuries can be tricky depending what your injuries are, but it’s possible to train through just about all of them.

I say just about all of them because there is a few you can’t. For example, I had a disc in my neck replaced a few years ago. That was one injury, that at least for a little while that I couldn’t train at all. I was on strictly no training for 4 weeks. After that I was on body weight movements and cardio for 4 more months. I did what I could and made sure that I listened to my body and backed off when I didn’t feel right, but it was hard, I was frustrated and wanted to lift weights, I was losing weight, my strength was going quickly, and I didn’t feel great about myself a lot of the time.

Having said all that, most injuries you can train though, I have had two knee injuries that required surgery. Obviously I couldn’t squat for a while so I focused on upper body moments like pull ups and pressing movements. I strengthened my core and ate correctly. I believe that doing all of those things will help you recover from injury gaster, even if it is more of a mental hurdle that you get over faster. It makes your feel like you are doing something positive and seeing yourself up to jump right back into regular training

Injuries to me are more mental anyway. You’re working toward a goal and then it gets derailed by injury. So what do you do? You just reassess and create a new plan. Don’t get stuck in unproductive thinking, such as, ” I can’t do squats because I’m hurt.” Or, ” I can’t run because the doctor said.” Focus on things you can do and talk to yourself positive in that way. If you have a knee injury focus on your bench press, or doing more pull ups, whatever it is have a new positive focus somewhere else.

If you have an injury that prevents you from training at all it’s probably a good time to pick up another positive hobby that you are allowed to do. Read more, take a class that interests you, plan out your training that will bring you back up to where you were once you are healthy again. Whatever it is, it needs to be positive.

Injuries are just part of training and how you deal with them is a big factor in how long you can remain in the training game. If you get injured and it’s always a “why me,” or “this is stupid,” approach you probably are not going to last long. Deal with them and move forward and understand that every injury is really just a chance for you to learn and maybe focus on something you have been neglecting.

Remember train hard, less excuses.

Training though the busy times.

Life is not a reason to not take care of yourself. You only get to do this life once, and in my opinion it’s important to see where your limitations are. If you have children, lead by example and show them they can do it too, and not to settle for excuses. Having said that there are times for breaks or where other things in life take priority.

Spouses, kids, school, work… These are all the things we use to make excuses for not exercising, or for eating bad. Anybody that gives me these excuses I am pretty much going to dimiss what they are saying right away. But is there a time to really have a valid excuse to not train? Kind of, I will explain.

I have 2 sons that play competitive baseball, and a daughter that plays competitive softball. As you can imagine, and I’m sure some of you are in the same boat, this takes up a lot of time. Practice, games, travelling, etc. We are usually up early and in bed late during this time of the year. I won’t lie, sometimes 4:30am workouts don’t happen during this time of year simply because rest is an important part of health too.

So what do I do to keep my training up and to not fall off. Well, if I am able to get to bed early, I am definitely getting up early to workout, if not I am going to use up my lunch hour to do something, or the 20 minutes in between when I get home and the next practice or game. A normal rest day may turn into another training day. My training is definitely fragmented during this time of year, 30 minutes here, 40 minutes there, but I try to plan it out in advance. I may be able to sneak in 90 minutes worth of training one day, then the next day only 30 minutes. Instead of a rest day, I will hit another training session, whatever I have to do to get it in.

Making a plan is so important, this can also be a good time of year for me to change up my training, focus on strength, or cardio, maybe it’s time to take a couple weeks off (which I do about once a year) to allow a few nagging injuries to get better. Whatever it is, a good plan and zero excuses going into these busy times of the year are what will get you through them without making you feel that you can’t do it. There is always time, you just have to make time.

If you really want to be serious about this don’t allow excuses for any reason. I will admit at times as I am changing into my gym clothes after work, and all the kids have practice, and our evening is full of events. I will try to talk myself out of it, “I don’t have time,” “I worked out hard yesterday,” “it won’t hurt to miss one day.” These are all lies and you have to push these aside in order to conquer your own mind. We all will fall short sometimes, so try to fix it and learn from it every time you do. The most important thing is to keep moving forward, make it up, don’t fall into a rut, you have time, make the time.

Train hard, make less excuses

A Touchy Subject.

First, I am not a doctor, my thoughts are through my own observation. Some of these things I am going to say are from my own personal outlook and stuff that had worked for me. Everybody’s biology, and genetic make up is different and I know we are not all the same.

Do you guys think that depression can be solved with exercise and hard diligent work? I believe that it can in many cases. Just simply for the fact that it has worked for me. Now, I was never diagnosed with clinical depression but I have had times in my life that have come on like waves where I feel, literally like I am drowning in life, but with know perception on what was going on.

The worst thing about it is that I had people telling me, “just be happy,” And anybody that knows this depression feeling also knows that you want to snap kick somebody in the face when they say that. I recognized what it was early on though and I decided that I knew it was going to be a long process but I was going to get through it. I decided to do things to give myself the best chance for getting over this.

First, I made my life about my kids, and tried to be the best dad I could. Not spoil them, just not be a lazy parent. If they wanted to play catch, or go fishing, or ride bikes I never said no. It was easy, fun, and allowed me to bond with them.

Next, I made sure I didn’t drink alcohol much. I like to have a drink, but I’ve never had issues with alcohol. I decided during this period to abstain almost entirely though. I figured a clear mind was a tough mind and that’s what I needed.

Also, I dove into exercise and eating right even more. Day in and out I would just crush myself, I felt like this also made my mind much more clear, it made me not feel helpless. Eating was a huge part of this, it only makes sense that eating correctly is good for your brain, and gave me a sense of control which was huge when you constantly feel like you have none.

There is also one more aspect to this that helped me get over my blue days, and this is where I think it gets touchy… Toughness… this helped, not giving in or saying that how I feel is normal, not allowing myself to except my own horrible thoughts. Knowing that I could get over it. Working to beat it was important for me in this aspect. I refused to sit back and look at it helplessly, take pills, and except that fact that it was my new normal. I attacked my weaknesses and refused to let my own brain beat me.

It worked for me, it took a good deal of time, probably around 2 years. I don’t want to undercut people who do these things and still can’t get through certain issues, we are all built different. What I hope I can do though, is maybe help somebody that isn’t doing these things and feels hopeless and make them see that with hard work, discipline and not allowing yourself to give up, depression like a lot of things is something you can get through.

How hard should training be?

One of the best sayings I every heard can from an instructor I had early in my military career, he said, ” Your hardest thing is my hardest thing.” I’ll be honest I had to think about it for a minute.

All he was saying, though, is that difficulty is on a scale, if I do something that is really hard for me, it’s really hard, period. Some people may be able to less or more but that feeling of it being really hard feels the same to everybody, our capacity just may be different.

So, how hard should your training be? Well, I think that depends on the person, but all workouts should be hard, I really think, in all workouts, at some point you should start second guessing yourself a little bit, or be wondering if you are going to be able to finish. This has just become a normal process in my brain now when I train, I always end up finishing and getting through whatever it is, but if it don’t hurt I don’t feel like I gave enough for the day.

I don’t know if everybody should train this way, especially starting out. This could burn some people out and make it so unenjoyable that they dread working out and this can stall training. However, I still think everybody’s workouts still need to be difficult in order to induce change.

I don’t want to bore everybody with an exercise physiology lecture( if you are reading this you probably already know enough about that stuff, and that’s not what I’m here for), but adaptation is key and in order to up your capacity you have to push your body hard enough that your body can adapt to harder workouts and as you get better your body will continue to try and adapt to harder and harder things as long as you continue to push hard.

For me personally, I am also addicted to the struggle of going through these hard things. If I push really hard and get through something I previously had doubts about it gives me confidence, it makes my day better. I find this confidence bleeds into other areas of my life. Something may come up at work, I’ve never done it and I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know it’s attainable, and I know I can get through it one step at a time and all this confidence comes from doing other hard things. It’s truly a compounding effect in all areas of life.

Push yourself, I promise you will never regret it when it’s over. There is something you learn in doing difficult tasks that can’t really be taught, so go find that.

Train hard, make less excuses

Post Military Physical Training.

I joined the military for a challenge, and I have a saying to all the young men and women I talk to that have just joined or are thinking about joining. ” The military is not what you think it’s going to be, but it is what you make it.” Of course this could be said for life in general, and I keep that attitude now. I joined the military for a challenge as a young man, and I continue to want to challenge myself.

Since I got out of the military my training has gone through many different changes and it’s been a learning curve for sure. I am 33 but I seem to only be learning more and getting better.

Currently, I do what I would call “Strict CrossFit” but my emphasis within my training changes based on what I’m training for. For example, last month I did a 25k trail run, so obviously I worked a lot more running into my training than I would do normally. I call it “strict” because I am not the biggest fan of some of the kipping movements CrossFit has to offer like pull ups specifically. I get the methodology and the idea behind these kipping movements ( I am a CF- level 1 coach, and it allows you to keep the intensity up). But, I also think if you do them a lot it causes unnecessary wear and tear on the shoulders and neck. So most of the time I keep to strict pull ups, strict overhead press, and use different movements or lower reps to add intensity.

Please, do not misconstrue my words, I like CrossFit, this is just personally what I think is best for me. Before I did this type of training I experimented with a lot of stuff. I always ran a lot regardless of what my training looked like, but I didn’t do things like deadlifts or squats until after I was out of the military. I learned really quick that most of the stuff out there ( like on Instagram) is crap, or at least unnecessary. In my opinion if you want to be strong, or be ” in shape” stick to these basic movements:

Squat: back squat, front squat, air squat, make sure your squat below parallel and research and learn how to move correctly before adding weight.

Press: bench press, overhead press, push ups, push press, all of these movements will make you crazy strong, and always remember overhead press will make you strong in all pressing movements.

Deadlift: This movement is so basic, and will make you so strong. It’s just hard, but we like to do hard things. I always think a person should learn how to move properly before touching any weight, and the deadlift is the most important, it is a high reward movement, but you can get hurt if you don’t do it right.

Pull up: The pull up is the best body weight, strength building movement out there, it’s simple, it’s effective, but it’s hard for many people. Especially for people that have little to no training experience, pull ups can feel like an impossible task. They are not I promise. Get on YouTube and look for pull up progression videos, there is a million of them. Stay the course and you will be fine.

Cardio: This is so important if you want to be in good physical shape. There is a difference between looking in shape and being in shape. And there is a balance to all things, and I believe the right amount of cardio to weight training can balance it all. Also, cardio helps key health markers that squats and deadlifts just don’t help as much with like blood pressure, cholesterol, and hypertension.

These things are so basic, but you can seem overwhelmed looking at social media. How many fat burning or butt blasting workouts do we need. Finding a balance is key too, I personally, want to be able to put a pack on and hike 10 miles if I need too, but be able to pull my body weight off the ground.

Your training should reflect your lifestyle, and make your quality of life and your life experience better. Allow for failures, and don’t focus the amount of reps you do or the amount of weight you do, focus on the effort. If you walk out of the gym and feel like you have gotten better then that’s a good day.

Train hard, make less excuses.

Forging Your Path

I am going to take a break from the history of my path to talk about excuses and mental toughness. This comes from many conversations I have with people that I feel like want things but can’t seem to figure out that hard work and dedication are important factors in achieving, not making excuses.

We all make them, I try to recognize and stop myself but occasionally they do happen. Excuses are cancer, and I mean that in a pretty literal term. They grow and spread into all areas of of life, just like cancer grows.

You’re not in shape because your busy, You don’t have the job you want because you got screwed over, you don’t eat right because it’s expensive, you don’t go to college because there is no time or money.

These are small things that I here from so many people and frankly they are all bullshit. You really want to get in shape, get up early or stay up late.. if you have 30 minutes you can get in shape. Eating right is not expensive, fruit and vegetables are cheap along with pork and chicken, you know what’s not cheap fast food.

I am a guy that looks in shape, I coach at a local gym on the side ( I work for the Army currently for an Environmental office as my main job) and so I get people that ask me why I spend so much time working out. The reality is I don’t, I workout for 60-90 minutes a day, but I do it when people are sleeping or on my lunch break and I don’t let myself make the excuse that I can’t get it in.

This tenant works in all things, once I got out of the military I wanted to go to college. I made excuses why I couldn’t, I have little kids and I don’t have time, I have work, and the list went on. I finally took the plunge and took one class, then another, I realized that this hard work was like working out, or any other hard work, it just took sacrifice. Before I knew it I was going full time and graduated in 3 years.

I’m not boasting, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I say these things so people will read them and get inspired, I have no more energy, or time in a day than anybody else, I’m not exceptionally intelligent or blessed with family members that can give me money in case I need it. I have bills, an ex wife, and busy kids. My human experience is a very common one, but I choose to continue down a path of discipline and less excuses.

Less excuses means more accountability, and this accountability allows us to take on more responsibility, and responsibility is the key to success in all parts of life.

Life is a struggle for all of us, thick skin, a kind heart, and learning how to be tough are essential to a good life. So, on that I want to touch on one more thing before I go.

Toughness, this thing we call toughness is not something that is given. It’s more like a muscle, it has to be exercised. I don’t mean getting in fights or trying to beat on people to show you are tough. I more mean, mental toughness. If you don’t put yourself through hard things and build your toughness I think you will waiver in your efforts much faster.

Doing hard things are what separate people, you will never meet a self made person that hasn’t grinded for a long time. They have suck to the course, they have failed, corrected, and tried again.

Train hard, make less excuses.