Saturday, August 17, 2013


Today I am going to discuss an idea that I call “life sucks training”.  I am not the first to come up with such an idea, but I can at least offer my own impression, interpretation and experiences with the notion.

The premise of this type of training is simple: the goal is to train one to endure hardships.  I am a firm believer in all training having a purpose, whether it be to make one bigger, stronger, faster, more agile, etc, and this type of training is no exception.  The key difference here is that, whereas the previous purposes for training are accomplished through a long period of consistent training, the benefit of “life sucks training” (LST) occurs within the training itself.  When engaging in LST, your goal is to simply purposefully put yourself in a disadvantageous position so you can learn how to overcome adversity, and in doing so develop the skillset necessary to overcome adversity in both competition and throughout life.

"You know guys, maybe Vietnam wouldn't be so bad"

Examples of this type of training would be training in extreme temperatures (below freezing or above 100 for instance), very high rep work with compound movements/massive heavy drop sets (reference Matt Kroczaleski’s 40 rep squats), sled drags combined with heavy carries, or pretty much any other way you can find to exit your comfort zone and really push yourself beyond your limits.  Additionally, using/modifying equipment can go a long way here as well.  The safety squat bar in and of itself sucks, throwing bands on it makes it really suck.

What is key here is that you have to willfully subject yourself to this type of training.  Yes, there is benefit to being thrown into the water and learning how to swim, but it takes a special kind of insanity to perform the jump yourself knowing full well you lack the tools to survive.  You are in effect teaching your body to fear your mind, letting it know full well that you are lacking in self-preservation instincts and that, if it wants to survive, it needs to step up its game.  Like mothers that lift cars off of their children, you will learn how to tap into resources that lie dormant inside of you which require a great degree of stimulus to be activated.  The cycle that develops here is that, as you continue to push your body, you come to better learn its capabilities, which in turn allow you to push it to even greater extremes due to your increased confidence in your ability.

Consider this a good goal to work toward

The additional benefit of LST is that, by making your training miserable, you make competition a breeze.  Like football players that run 2 a day practices in full pads without water breaks on hot days, by suffering in training, you excel when it comes time to perform the “easy” task of competing.  If you have been demolishing your upperback and remainder of your posterior chain with high rep safety squat bar box squats against bands and chains in -30 degree weather, there is no chance that you will fall forward performing a single with a barbell in a well heated gym for a competition.

It must be noted that, again, the intent of this training is purely to build mental and physical fortitude, not strength, size, or athleticism.  As such, it cannot be your primary means of training, nor should your primary goals be sacrificed to accomplish LST.  This is not an everyday thing, or even an every week thing, but more just another tool in the toolbox.  I will say that, if you cannot perform LST at all without causing your primary goals to suffer, your conditioning needs work, and thus it may be time to focus on that and in turn make your life suck through conditioning work.  Otherwise, do not make the mistake of other masochistic training who seek pain as some sort of affirmation of success.  Take this for what it is: a lesson in overcoming adversity to accomplish an even bigger goal.


  1. Stumbled upon this blog a couple of days ago, read all your posts and really agree with your outlook on lifting and building strength. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks man. Glad I have you as a reader.