This WILL be a multi post topic…so stay tuned!
While traveling a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on a layover…no wifi available, and lost in thought. I was heading to a competition in the USA that I honestly expected to finish last in but had already long realized that I wasn’t going down there to win. I was going for an experience, to say I did it, and to be with friends.
Then my mind wandered and I got to thinking, “what if one day I actually go to one of these competitions with a realistic plan to do well? I mean in this case, in hindsight, I did better than I thought, but what if in two years I go in wanting to be top 15. How will I get there?”.
I sat down with a book I recently purchased, “Progress” by Chris Moore (@barbellbuddha on social media)
Chris has become a bit of a reprieve for me from day to day life. I work as a police officer and sometimes the days can be weary. Often, more often that not actually, I find myself listening to his “Get Change” podcast as a way to shift my mind from police work and hyper vigilance while on the way home…I’ve listened to every episode at least twice, some episodes more. At home I have to be a husband, brother, uncle, son, and friend…I don’t have to be a cop all the time, I’m more than that. The dude’s done a lot and is far more intelligent than I, but we share many of the same philosophies and his ramblings make me think, ponder, and even sometimes meditate. It’s quite relaxing. This book though…read this book…
Click HERE to shop for his books
$10 for an ebook, $15 for paperback.
I had to put the book down about 7 times by my count during my layover in flight to process “mind blasting” moments (as Russell Peters would say!). There are many dog eared pages and I’ll be reading this one again…I don’t read as much as I should, and I read this cover to cover in one sitting.
Now, even prior to reading a page, I started thinking about goals. I made the conscious decision that I needed to write some things down that I want within my fitness journey and determine a reasonable timeline to make significant change. So I wrote down the following inside the back cover with a goal of June 2017.
When you open the book, the first sign that Chris is different is the first three sentences you find:
This content is not under copyright.
Take any idea and share as you see fit.
It’ll make you feel good.
Well, he said so, so as part 1 of this topic, I want to share Chris Moore’s 8 thoughts on goals. It’s a fluid process but it needs direction. Take a read, I’ll be back in a few days to delve much much deeper into the topic.
Taken from “Progress” by Chris Moore.
- What’s your commitment?
You can write it down in a notebook, on your phone, or in bright red paint across the back wall of your garage. Anything will do.
The tool doesn’t matter, only your commitment. So, what is your goal? Think carefully. Yes, write it down. Have a scotch and read it aloud. Do it again. Know it well.
Every journey begins by pointing to a desired destination. That comes with some pressure and expectation, but believe me, it really doesn’t matter what you pick. You just need to stop circling and assume a trajectory. Everything else will soon work itself out.
Just pick something to shoot at for now. Start where you stand, with a load that you can lift right now with very good form. Your target can be anything within reason, but a good guide might be a 10% increase in two months.
Is that too much? Too litte? Well, you’ll learn that soon enough.
- The motive.
Writing down your commitment is a critical first step, but it’s only a temporary sugar rush designed to get you moving.
If you really want to pull that dream down from the clouds and make it real, then you’ll have to work really hard for it, for a really long-time. Let’s embrace that now.
What’s a good reason to train? Well, wanting to be the biggest, strongest, or fastest person in any room is a TERRIBLE one. Really. No matter how much you change, grow and achieve, you will never be satisfied. So do better. Don’t repeat those mistakes. Know exactly what you’re after and WHY.
What is it? To qualify for a competition? Break the record? Catch up with the friend that got a head start? Lose the baby weight and knock them dead in the pink bikini? It can be whatever pleases you, you sexy beast. Just don’t let it be about ego alone. It won’t work.
If you feel nothing now at the start, then you’re sure to get lost when the journey gets tought. Make this count.
- The art of projection.
You have written down your commitment. You have carefully assessed the motive. Now what?
Try using your imagination. Really.
One of the most useful skills you can cultivate is the ability to visualize yourself in the future. Day to day, week to week, month to month, see yourself calmly achieving your goals just as planned.
See it done. It will bring an immediate benefit.
The practice will reinforce the plan daily. It will anchor you in rough waters. It will reassure when you get cold feet. It will cultivate a familiarity with success and make it much more probable. Believe it’s possible. Change the reality.
I might add, looking back can be just as useful. Every successful day, week and month gives you valuable data. So, pay close attention along the way. Look back on that record and trust it. Utilize it.
When you project back forward you’ll be more confident and ready for ascension.
- Setting the scope.
Knowing what you’re after is terribly important, but so is knowing what you’re NOT after.
I could provide a scientific, evidence based rationale as to why you should avoid trying to get better at everything all at once. But, I’d rather just share a saying. I was originally told it was of Hungarian origin, but who knows where it came from.
It goes something like this. “If you only have one ass, you cannot ride two horses”. Yeah, I think that does the job just fine.
If more strength is your pressing need, set aside at least a few months to devote your focus to it entirely. Give it everything you’ve got. Pour yourself all over it.
Let’s be clear. You still need to go out and do everything else that’s important to you, but, you have to back off and save the real work for the barbell.
Drive what is needed. Make it happen. Preserve what has been earned before. Rotate in due time. That’s all it takes.
- Step by Step.
Training is an act of cultivation. It’s like gardening.
You create and maintain the conditions for growth – water and feeding, weeding. Then you let the process unfold as it will. There is no rushing things.
Let’s say that you’re trying to add 50 kilograms on your squat, and you’d like to do that in ten weeks. That means your target is an average increase of five kilos per week across your work sets. Sounds reasonable.
Stick to that plan! Ideally you would hit each weekly increase. If so, congrats! You are a success.
If things come too easily, be more aggressive with your goal next time around. Take advantage of the new data. If progress ever slows and success seems unlikely during the coming weeks, that’s your cue to start building in more rest. Unload for a week, then resume right where you left off. This is how you learn to manage your fatigue and tune your approach.
If you just get crushed and buried under a suspiciously heavy load, you know you began with ego. Try starting over with at least a 10% lower load. Take your time. This in no race.
- Use what you’ve got.
I don’t know of any writer who wouldn’t love a brand new MacBook Air for work. It’s sexy as hell. But does that matter?
Ultimately, it doesn’t. Success in art starts with the individual and their vision.
Writers write with what they’ve got – computer. Typewriter. Paper and pen. Lump of coal. It could be anything. The art, the vision, the belief will still shine through anything.
Strength is absolutely no different. It starts with you. Not a program. Not a coach. Not a piece of equipment or a pill. It’s YOU.
Do your best to secure a barbell and plenty of weight. For everything else, get creative and use what’s around. Toys at the gym. A log, or stone. Or perhaps just your body! Just do not be discourage with what you lack. Instead focus on all the things you can do now.
Remember, everything starts with you.
- What’s in the way?
If you really want to be successful during this journey, then work with your limitations. Don’t disregard them. Don’t assume they’re a barrier.
How are things going at work? …Busy? Are you in a sour relationship? Have you been sick lately? Did you recently become a parent, and are you now getting a shaky three hours of sleep per night, maybe?
These are all factors that WILL affect your plan. Don’t push forward blindly in pursuit of the goal. If you do, I can say from experience that you will only wear down and lose interest.
When time is restricted, just focus on reaching your weekly loading target, then lower the load by 20% and do a few sets of 2-5 reps.
Hit the important exercises hard two to three times per week. Only consider adding work when your schedule allows, and progress slows with the current plan.
As always, take your time. You will be fine. Just try and take it easy on yourself when you can.
- A final note.
A simple and progressive plan is powerful and life changing because it is cumulative. The work adds up, and before you know it, you’re different. You’re stronger, and on to brand new goals.
That’s an exciting thing.
Get lost in the process. Take those first few steps and get your momentum. Check off the milestones. Tailor your approach as you get new data. Rest hard when necessary. Adjust your goal-setting so that it’s more accurate.
If you can get that far, you will start to see why that first goal didn’t matter much at all. It was only the motion that matter. The rhythm.
That’s what changes your reality. That’s what allows this transformation to take place.
Let that be your focus. No matter what happens, find a way to stay in motion. All those results you’re after? Like I said, that will all take care of itself.
For now, the barbell is waiting on you.