Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roll With the Punches, Manage the Chaos

By Andrew McGunagle

If only your ankles were a bit more mobile, right? What would you deadlift if you didn't have to sit so much at work? Imagine how big and strong you'd be if you could afford that ridiculously expensive protein powder that is biochemically engineered to INCREASE MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS BY 5000%!!! As soon as you figure everything out and get everything under control, then you'll start making real progress, huh? "My training, my diet, and my life would be all perfect if only I could..."

Stop it.

Perfection is a pipe dream in the world of strength and conditioning. Fix one problem, and you'll be confronted with a new one just a few reps later. Knowing the science behind size and strength can certainly be advantageous, but the human body can be a finicky bastard. There are simply too many variables involved in the undertaking for you to ever be in complete control, and you know what?

Perfection isn't necessary, and waiting until every detail is pinned under your thumb to begin working hard all but guarantees your progress will be unspectacular.

You see, success in strength training depends on a lifter's ability to consistently create a specific, stimulating training effect. If you don't regularly lift in a manner that influences your muscles to grow or forces your nervous system to become more efficient, then you aren't going to get bigger and stronger. Lots of people brood over their lack of progress and search high and low for answers, and they forget to simply do enough of the right things at the right times. If you want to start making legitimate, continual progress, you must quit kidding yourself with complex solutions and begin doing the work you know you cannot avoid.

The lifters who can consistently maintain the proper frame of mind - a state of unrelenting problem solving - and pair it with a unique ability to put the blinders on and lift with a logical, controlled recklessness are the ones who get closest to discovering their potential. You need to constantly be assessing your movement capacity and addressing deficits with targeted mobilization. You need to monitor your technique and perceive and rectify flaws before they become bad habits. You need to be mindful of the foods you ingest and adjust your intake when you aren't performing well or making the body composition improvements you expect. You need to be tracking your training and thoughtfully manipulating your training variables if you are not getting closer to your goals.

However, at the same time, you must also turn a (relatively) blind eye to all of your issues when it comes time to get after it in the gym. Your hips may be a bit tight, but you can still squat to depth pain-free, right? You're having a little trouble maintaining a perfect neutral spine position during your deadlift session, but is the deviation excessive enough to be dangerous? Obviously there are certain problems that should never be ignored. But all of those tiny issues you've allowed to build up in your head? Those aren't urgent. They may not even be worth a single second of stress.

You should strive for perfection and figure out how to overcome any obstacles you encounter, but you also need to be realistic. Know that you can function and make progress despite a less-than-ideal training, eating, or living situation. Frame the process correctly: set short-term goals, address issues, and train hard. Stop holding yourself back and you'll begin to see what you're capable of.

Thanks for reading!  

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