Compete or Work Together?

“The third group worked out with a single partner and was told that the results of their test were based on the partner with the weaker performance”.

That piece of information comes from an article on Breaking from Doug Dupont.

Have you ever thought about training partners that way before?  As I read this article I expected Doug to tell me that the third group was competing against one another.  Instead, its a team approach.

The next question – is the motivating factor the fear of letting your teammate down or the fear of losing?  I believe the answer is the later.

I used to teach college classes.  Part of the course requirements were to stand up in front of the class and give a five minute presentation.  In the beginning, it was every man (or woman) for himself.  When assigned as an individual project the results were not great.  There were always a few students who did not put forth the effort.  Later, the format was changed to a group presentation,  The results were outstanding.  I attribute the improvement to the peer pressure element.  When other people are counting on you it makes a difference.   The speeches were much better.

In the classroom, in the gym and in many other areas of life, the takeaway is that people will try harder to support other people than they will to rise above it.

photo credit: Ukarumpa Sports Day 2010 tug of war via photopin (license)

Are You Training To Failure or Are You Just Quitting?

Working out alone in a basement or garage gym is a way of life for thousands of trainees.  These are the people who get up early or stay up late to grind out reps with barbells and dumbbells.  Nothing flashy, no distractions, and no spin class going on in the next room.  Just us and the weights.

That’s the upside.

There is a downside and one of them is the comfort zone.  Training solo is preferred by many, but are they all training this way for the right reasons?

In most areas of life no one likes to fail.  The gym is an exception.  Training to failure is often our goal.  What we have to avoid is quitting.

Can you push a set to the max without someone there to push you?  I’m not talking about the safety aspect.  It goes without saying that you need to be smart.  I’m talking about what goes on in your head.  Human nature is to head for the door as soon as the pain starts.

Can you eek out one, two or even three more reps?  Its hard to keep the weight moving.  Its hard to know when the set is really done.  That’s where a good training partner is worth their weight in gold.  A good training partner knows how to push you to your limit.

Can you do that by yourself?  There is no answer to that question, but here’s two ideas to help you get to the limit:

1 – Time Under Lift.  I write about this concept a lot and that’s because I believe it is a superior way to train.  Make the clock you goal and give yourself permission to use negatives and static holds to get there.  Just be sure not to get sloppy.

2 – Start counting when the reps get painful.  This is a play on the famous quote from Muhammad Ali.  When someone asked him how many sit ups he did he responded by saying that he did not know because he didn’t start counting until it started to hurt.  When it comes to squats, bench press and dead lift, by the time the pain starts you probably don’t have much left in the tank.  So make your sets only one, two or three reps but only count the ones that hurt.



Missing Your Numbers

Did you miss your numbers today?

I did. I missed on the bench. That’s nothing new. Bench has always been the most challenging exercise for me. Over the years I’ve missed on the bench more times than I can count.

What’s interesting is that in the same workout I hit my planned numbers for everything else.  So why is failure the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on what I did this morning?  Because everyone else does the same thing.  We all do.  We’re wired to see what’s wrong, not what’s right.  The stuff we do right is just not that interesting to us.  It’s the stuff we got wrong that’s the problem.

Maybe that’s the right way to look at weightlifting.  If you never failed on an exercise why would you be motivated to go back to the gym?  You would have nothing to prove.  You would never know the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that come from striving and achieving after struggle and failure and trying again.

On Tuesday I will try again.   And again on Thursday.  And on and on and on.

photo credit: Bench-Pressing Snowman via photopin (license)


Spending Money Is Less Painful Than Action

The result of action could be failure and failure is painful.  Think about it.  If you actually did something it might not work out.  You might even end up looking stupid.  So its easier to buy a book or watch a seminar or buy some strange piece of equipment or even join a gym.  To do those things you have to part with some hard earned cash and that can feel painful.  It can even fool you into thinking that you did something.

But you didn’t.  Not really.

Skills have to be learned, but they also have to be applied.  No one makes progress in the weight room or in relationships or in your career without standing up and trying. Progress IS NOT continually investing and analyzing and tweeking.  Progress is moving forward and demonstrating to yourself that you are better today than you were yesterday.

So here’s the challenge:

Ignore all advice and opinions until you put something new into action.  Try what you learned yesterday before learning something new today.

How do you do that? By doing better today than you did yesterday. That’s it. Not by buying a course or a service or a product or listening to a podcast or continually changing your exercise form, number or reps, choice of exercises, etc.

Do better today than you did yesterday!

Or even do worse than you did yesterday.

Just do something.


Thinking Too Much Is A Bad Thing

Too much education can be a bad thing, too.

Books, courses, gadgets, trainers, coaches.  We can invest our time and money in many different things.  But investment is not a substitute for action.  I’ve been guilty of that many times in my life.  Spending money feels like a sacrifice and can be painful.  But the real pain is in the execution.  It can be easy to confuse the two.  You don’t make progress by thinking.  You make it by doing.

Jim Rohn said that its easy to get motivated to lift 200 lbs until you get to the gym.

You are losing when you fool yourself into believing that you’re making progress because your are laying out your time and money learning things instead of actually trying things.

So here’s the challenge:

Don’t read another book, don’t watch another video, don’t listen to another podcast, don’t sign up for another course, don’t go to another seminar, don’t buy another tool or gadget….

….until you try and apply something….

….from the last book, video, podcast, course, seminar tool or gadget.