Saturday, June 1, 2013


In Plato’s “Republic”, Socrates crafts a “city in speech”, wherein the ideal government is constructed.  In this mental exercise, Socrates explained that the ideal state would be one ruled by the philosopher kings, as they possessed the necessary capabilities required to be an effective leader, and then went on to explain the devolution of government from this ideal state, to include one ruled by the military, the merchant class, a democracy, and finally tyranny and anarchy.  As much as it may insult our western idealism, it is worth noting how low democracy is ranked on this scale compared to having a competent leader granted full and absolute power over his subjects.  The reasoning for this choice, much like as Hobbes’ noted, was due to the fact that man is not capable of self-governing due to their nature, and thus require one who is skilled in the art and possessing the necessary qualities of a leader.

When you were designing your own training, you were in that state of tyranny and anarchy, and you realized it was necessary to remove yourself from that situation.  By why make your training choices a democracy?  It should not be up to the masses to decide how you train, it should be up to those who have been successful in training others.  If you seek forums and hearsay as your guidance, you are going to be spinning your wheels and chasing phantoms with minimal success rate.  This is because the democracy, as a form of representation of the population as a whole, contains far more unsuccessful trainees than successful ones, and thus the volume of information you receive is going to be far more vectored toward failure than success.  Even if we were to ignore the intentionally bad information put out under the guise of “trolling”, the simple reality is that the general population contains very few successful trainees, and at best people are simply parroting what successful people have said, and more realistically the message has been twisted and lost in translation.

Those of you who grew up with texting probably have no idea what this is

The merchant class would equate to those that are interested purely in selling you a product (P90X, Insanity, Jane Fonda, etc.)  The interest of these people/companies is in profit, and your success is only valuable to them insomuch as they continue to receive positive endorsements of their products.  They are not here to tailor their merchandise to your success, and everything is cookie-cutter “one size fits all” appealing to the lowest common denominator.  Following their approach will give you greater success than existing in chaos, but will not allow you to thrive or strive toward your own personal goals.  You are at the mercy of the free market, and whatever is the “in” thing at the time becomes your only option.  You must conform your goals to the program, not the other way around.

When discussing the “military” as a sovereign, we are discussing the veterans in the gym.  These are the people who have been in the trenches and fought the battles against the iron, forging themselves to become bigger and stronger.  Their results speak for themselves.  Unfortunately, their results speak only for themselves.  Without the experience of training others, they can only speak from their own experiences, which though valuable, are limited.  A long limbed, short torsoed lifter is going to have different advise for benching compared to one with short limbs and a barrel chest, and a lifter that is naturally predisposed to putting on fat will have different dietary advice compared to a perpetual ectomorph.  You could do worse than selecting the military as your sovereign, but you are limited to their experience.

We have finally arrived at the “philosopher kings” of training.  These are the people with verifiable track records in both being strong and making others stronger.  As much as I lament the internet’s ability to muddy the waters of strength training, it is a boon when it comes to finding the credentials of someone, and being able to tell who is legit and who is simply a guru.  Folks like Dave Tate, Steve Pulcinella, Matt Kroczaleski, Mike Tuchscherer, Jeff Lewis, Jim Wendler, Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, etc, clearly know what they are doing, and if you entrust your training to their teachings (or attend their seminars or pay directly for their consultation), you will be in good hands.  You will leave behind the state of nature and thrive in a land of stability and prosperity.

In our next topic, we will discuss the notions of liberty and property in terms of how they apply to your training.

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