Don’t Cheat Your Reps!

“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of
undeserving people.”
― Charles T. Munger

CrossFitRoots_squatdepth-640x456I was at the gym the other day, and couldn’t believe what I saw. I mean, I couldn’t have scripted this any better to make an important point. In fact watching what happened actually sparked writing this post. Read on to find out what happened
So there I was at the gym working with a client and at two other points of the gym I saw 2 different father son pairs working out. Neither group was working out with the other, but they both happened to be doing back squats. All 4 guys were doing the same exercise, but they were executing their reps very differently, and their results showed the difference clearly.
Let’s start with the first pair, we will call them group A. Group A was doing what I call quarter squats. That’s where you squat down a little bit, but don’t get anywhere near the full range of motion the back squat is intended to have. The father and the son were working in similar weight ranges, somewhere in the 135 lb. range. Let me give you a little description of what these two looked like. The father was quite a bit overweight with a noticeable “pot belly”. The son was very skinny and small, not much muscle mass to be seen. Now I don’t mean to pick these two apart, I’m just reporting what I saw.
Group B on the other hand were executing their back squats with perfect form, full range of motion, and quite a bit of weight. They were both squatting well over 300 lbs. It was impressive to watch. I was impressed by the son, who was probably 16, and also by the father as he was lifting just as much weight as somebody 20 years younger than him. They were both in great shape, lean and strong.
These two examples really showed me in black and white the fact that you can’t cheat your reps. You can’t do half the work and expect all the results you want.
It’s really important in the gym when you work out not to cheat your reps, but it applies to life as well. You can’t expect to get a raise at work if you just do the bare minimum, or even less in some cases. You will never build the body or the life you want by not giving 100% effort on every rep.
In every single thing you do in your life every day if you give a half assed effort you will get a half assed result. It’s a law of nature!
Want to get in better shape, don’t ever cheat a rep, and put in more effort. Want a raise, promotion, or even just some recognition at work, you have to put in an effort deserving of such praise. To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. You can apply this to any area of your life that you either are not making the gains you want to be, or want to take your game to the next level.
Is it easy to do full reps? No it’s way easier to do quarter reps, and let yourself believe you are doing your best. STOP. If you find yourself cheating on your reps in the gym or elsewhere, give yourself a kick in the ass and cut it out. Be honest with yourself, you know when you are giving all the effort you can, and when you are cheating. Remember the only person you are cheating is yourself, and why would you want to do that?
In the gym and in life it hard to do full reps. It can be really hard sometimes. That’s good! The hard is what will make you great! Don’t you want to be great? Of course you do, who doesn’t. OK, so get your full reps in and you will be well on your way to greatness!
Have you ever caught yourself cheating on your reps? What did you do about it? What are you going to do in the future to make sure you are always doing full reps?

“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of
undeserving people.”
― Charles T. Munger

Laying It All Out There

10453330_1421761701438197_2575866355209695049_nI’m going to relate my recent experiences at the Spartan Race in Amesbury, MA I just completed. My intent is to hopefully get some stuff off my chest, and clear my head, but at the same time hopefully giving you the reader some takeaways that you can apply to your life. That’s the whole point of this blog anyways!

I was all revved up for this year’s race; this was going to be redemption for me. Redemption from my sorry performance at last years race, my first ever-Spartan Race. Last year I was caught off guard, I did not know what to expect. I was not prepared for the battle I was about to enter. I will never forget how I felt that day after the race, disappointed, discouraged, and questioning myself as a competitor.
This year is different. I have done many Spartan Races since then, and countless other Obstacle Course Races. Overall I have performed very well. I have performed up to my ability for the most part. I was ready to crush the course this year, and hopefully place well among the other elite field. Instead the course crushed me, again.

I always say there is only one criteria that I ask of myself after a race to feel successful. That is a yes to the question, “Did I push myself as hard as I possibly could today?” For the most part I can always say yes to that. The thing I am most disappointed with today is I’m not sure of that answer. I am wondering if maybe I had some more juice in the tank that I was too afraid to reach for. Too afraid to dig deep and do what was necessary to lay it all on the line.

It’s a difficult thing to push yourself hard, to feel the pain, to want to quit, but yet push on, and push even harder. I thought I could always rely on myself to do that. I thought I was at the point that I could even embrace these feelings. Embrace the pain, lean into it; use it to spur me on. I think I have more work to do in this department.

This is what separates the great ones from the good ones. The mental game. I thought I was at the point where I could always chalk the mental game up in the W column. This shows me I need to keep working at it.

I’m trying to turn this into a positive for me, a way to learn and get better, which is really the point of life in my opinion. Just because I thought I had something figured out, it turns out I can’t ever let my guard down. I need to be continually honing my skills in every department. I can’t get lax on anything once I “get it”. The truth is I don’t think I will ever truly have anything figured out. There is always something more to learn in every subject and aspect to life. There is always room to improve, a way to get better, no matter how good you are at something.

I am going to use this experience to fuel my training both physically and mentally. This is part of the journey to success. The ups and the downs, the triumphs and the defeats, these are the times when you have a choice, you can either quit, or you can work harder to get better. I know what I am going to do; there is no doubt in my mind that I am going to use this experience to fuel my inner fire to get better.

What have you done in your life to turn a negative into a positive? How have you used a setback in any area of your life to get better? Let me know what you think about this subject.

We Could All Use a Little More Misery in Our Lives

We could all use some misery in our lives. What do I mean by this? I mean most of us live very comfortable lives. We don’t experience many of the struggles that people have dealt with for the better part of human history. We don’t have to fetch water from a stream; we just turn on a faucet. We don’t have to grow or hunt our own food; we just go to the grocery store and buy it. We don’t have to really walk anywhere; we just hop in our cars. Our modern lives are full of these conveniences.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of running water, grocery stores, and my car as much as anybody. What I think our modern lives lack is some misery, or some struggle physically. I realize that most people don’t consider their lives easy, between work, family obligations, and the many other day to day situations we deal with life can seem pretty tough. I’m talking about some real misery though. I’m talking about the misery of walking 10 miles to get somewhere. Imagine how much your feet would ache, and how bad you would want to get to your destination.

This idea of more misery came to me on a recent backpacking trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I basically loaded up a backpack with everything I would need for 3 days and took off into the mountains. Yes, this includes food, water, and shelter. This was a great trip and an activity I really enjoy. There are times however when it’s not that fun. At the end of a long day of hiking my whole body is sore, my feet ache, I’m hungry and tired, and I just want to get to a campsite. Unfortunately I had specific destinations to reach, and I couldn’t just stop where I felt like it. To say the least at times I was pretty miserable.
The magic though came when I reached my desired location. I could take my backpack off and begin to set up camp. The real payoff came after my tent was up and I was enjoying my dinner. There is probably no better tasting and feeling meal than one after a tough day of hiking in the mountains with a 40-pound pack on your shoulders. This got me thinking about how uncomfortable I was earlier in the day, but it was all worth it. I came to realize that all pain is temporary.

I will say that again, all pain is temporary. There will always be light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how tough things get. You can always push through tough times with that in mind. No matter how desperate you feel, just knowing that somewhere down the road it will get easier and better may be enough to get you over the hump.
You can apply this to any aspect of your life. Think of a tough workout. Yes it is painful and uncomfortable, but guess what it will be over soon and you will be better because of it. The feeling I get after I complete a tough workout where I have given it my all is one of the best feelings out there. The harder I push myself, the better I feel after.
Think of the pain you experience from the death of a loved one. This pain may last a long time. But, that feeling is also temporary, you will get through it and remember all the good times you shared with that person. Turn that pain and negative feelings into positive ones, and you can get through anything.

The human spirit is meant to persevere, and push through even the most difficult situations. This is what we have done for millions of years. Humans are survivors. It’s fairly easy to survive in our modern world. I would like you to implement this idea of incorporating some misery into your life to really experience number one some discomfort, and number two the amazing feeling you will get when you are done. This will allow you to fully appreciate everything you have in your life to a greater degree.
How can you apply this to your daily life? Try taking a long hike or walk. Walk farther than you ever have before. Go for a long run, and really push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try a killer WOD at the gym, something where you are going full speed at 100 percent intensity for an extended period of time. I feel silly even writing this, but in today’s world it definitely applies, try turning your smart phone off for 24 hours, and see how you feel. Try anything that will make you uncomfortable for an extended period of time. Remember the pay off comes when you are done.
The next phase, and one that is probably very hard for most of us to master is to recognize that the pain you feel and experience during a tough time, is temporary, and even embrace the pain. There are a bunch of sayings to illustrate this idea, embrace the suck, get comfortable being uncomfortable, etc. Way easier sad than done. However if you can even get a little bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable, you will have a leg up on most people that are not willing to. Start with 1 percent and gradually build on it. The more you put yourself in these uncomfortable situations, the easier they become. The more pleasure you get from your post suck experience, the more likely you are of pushing yourself the next time to get that pleasure feeling again.
The takeaway here is that all pain and discomfort is temporary. You will always make it through a tough time. If you can truly embrace this idea knowing that the payoff comes from the struggles you go through, you will be light years ahead of most of the people around you, which can pay off ten fold.
What do you think of this idea? When have you really struggled, but gotten through it, and came out better on the other side? How will you incorporate some misery into your life?

Do the Work

Do the work is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s something I have tried to make my personal model for the last ten plus years. To me it means to get out there and do what needs to be done. This can be applied to any area of life. It could be doing a tough workout, starting to eat healthy, or finishing a project at work. It’s not always the most fun thing in life, but I feel it is the most necessary, and rewarding aspect of my life.
Do the work, put the time in. A couple great books I have read that are all about this subject are Mastery by Robert Greene, and Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin. I highly recommend these two books. They changed the way I approached my training and work. They both go into great detail about doing the work, putting in the time, and the concept of deliberate practice.
The sky is the limit for everybody in achieving whatever you desire, if you are willing to do what is necessary. The day in and day out work and effort is what’s necessary to get what you want. We all get what we deserve, said another way you get what you earn. If you want to sit back and let things happen you probably won’t get to where you want to be. The key is to go out and grab what you want. This is the hard road. There will be ups and downs, probably more downs than ups.

The last part brings up another thought I have. The ups and downs are all part of the journey, however, the downs are where the real growth happens. It’s just like when you work out and fatigue a muscle. That muscle is forced by the stimulus you placed on it to grow bigger and stronger. It’s the same concept when it comes to achieving your goals and getting what you want. When you hit a roadblock and stumble on your journey, or encounter something difficult you will work through it, and come out better and stronger on the other side. These struggles will make you more resilient. If you can learn to embrace the hard stuff, you will be one step ahead of the rest. The difficult parts of life are the most beneficial. Don’t get me wrong you do need some success to help you along the way, but the real growth happens after overcoming adversity.
I get so excited when I think about my journey. I know I have come a long way, and the best part is I know that I have a long way to go. This isn’t daunting or discouraging to me, it’s empowering! I know that I have endured many struggles, and there will be many more to come, and I look forward to these challenges. I know that these struggles and challenges will present me with the greatest opportunity to grow and improve.

I try to get better everyday. I want to go to bed better than when I woke up, this could be in any part of life like getting smarter, healthier, or in better shape. I don’t try to change the world or move giant boulders on a daily basis; I just do the little things that keep me heading on the slow and steady climb up. That second part is the key, steady. I’ll say it again, it’s the day in and day out attention to doing the work that makes the biggest changes. Just try to move the needle one small increment everyday. Just move it a tick. Another great book on this subject is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. This is an excellent read that emphasizes the point I am trying to make in much greater detail. The biggest takeaway I can give you from that book is this, do the things everyday that are easy to do, but easy not to do. Again all the little things done everyday that add up to big things overtime.
I know this flys in the face of what we are told on the news and in magazines, the whole get rich quick, lose 30 pounds in a week mentality. These things either don’t work, or don’t last. What I am telling you works and gets results. Yes, it takes longer and shows you results slowly over time. However, the difference is that the results will last, and you will be so much more proud of what you accomplish because of it. You will know how hard you worked, you will know all the time you put in, all the trials and tribulations you went through.
I hope this has inspired somebody to get out there and do the work, put the time in. I know these concepts have been essential to where I am today, and where I want to go in the future. So get out there, and get things done, go get what you want!

Trusting in Your Program

trust-resized-600I wanted to write about something I have been struggling with recently. It has to do with programming my workouts. I am always on the quest to get better, stronger and faster. Therefore I always thought I should be on the quest for the perfect program or workouts to get me to the next level. What I have come to realize is maybe there is no perfect program; there are actually many ways to get where I want to go. The key is to trust what you are doing.
The main thing you need to keep in mind is there are no shortcuts; you have to put in the work. The most perfect program in the world is useless if you don’t put the time and effort in. Trust in what you are doing and pour yourself into it. I think you will get far better results from doing anything with 100 percent effort, than doing even the most well designed mapped out program at less than 100 percent effort.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use some general programming guidelines, and train smart with a purpose, I’m just speaking from personal experience that sometimes you can lose the forest through the trees, and get overwhelmed in the details of trying to format the perfect program. I have fallen into this trap before, and am now trying to let most of that go, and trust that what I’m doing is working.
For me this is still a work in progress. I am about to start a “new” block of training. I have mapped out a calendar week to week with some basic guidelines of what I want to accomplish that particular week. There are no specific workouts planned out on the calendar, I will figure those out as I go. What this does give me is a general direction I will be heading in. Another key component is I have pre scheduled de load weeks at regular intervals. This is very important because as athletes I think we have the tendency to forget about rest, and want to push hard all the time. I think we all know this is not the best strategy.
Like I said I am trying this out really for the first time, so I am not sure how well my calendar idea will work out. I feel as though as long as I push myself hard that it will work. I just need to trust in the process, and do the work.
Another thing I am going to try and avoid is second guessing myself, and comparing myself to what others are doing. That again goes back to trusting in what I am doing. As a competitive person sometimes this is a hard thing to accomplish. I find myself on social media from time to time seeing what everybody else is doing in their workouts and I’m worrying that I am not doing enough, or that they are getting so much stronger and faster than me. What does this really accomplish for me? Nothing positive, that’s for sure. It is not productive, and with my new plan I hope to avoid these thought patterns.
I have some big races coming up this fall, and I will really be putting this new training plan to the test. I have nothing else to do now but trust in the plan (or lack of a plan, depending on how you look at it), and give it everything I’ve got.
What is your opinion on this subject? How do you deal with programming? Do you struggle with any of these mental battles that I do?