Monday, September 8, 2014


The analogy of training being like war is trite and exhausted at this point.  We constantly see facebook updates where, somewhere between “#BEASTMODE” and “#KILLINGITALLDAY” someone also manages to work in that they are going into battle or prepping for war with the weights.  Though the obvious opportunity for mocking is here, what we can also extrapolate from this is how many carry a mentality that ensures their failure.  In their bravado, many in fact demonstrate that they lack the tools to make progress in training, because they effectively lack the understanding in how to wage proper war.

For starters, don't eat all of your MREs before you get to the field

Many authors have already discussed the various types of warfare available and exercised historically, from Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Socrates, George Washington, Mao Zedong, etc, but for the purpose of today’s discussion, we will highlight a war of attrition versus unconventional/guerilla warfare.  The sad reality is, when most trainees “go to war”, they are engaging in a war of attrition.  They have hunkered themselves in for a long, protracted fight wherein it is a contest of sheer willpower between two factions, and whoever can endure the most misery, hardship and sacrifice without totally folding over wins.

This notion may sound romantic in our “blood and guts” training mentality, but historically, this is the type of warfare waged out of desperation, not strategy, and is the absolute last resort when all other appropriate avenues have failed.  No country ever willing engages in a war of attrition, but instead they end up in one.  Both countries, fully believing in their ability to win in a conventional, quick and violent war, instead find themselves in a prolonged, grueling and ultimately worthless campaign brought about by an inability to plan or adapt.  Battles are fought over inches of territory, while most forces die from environmental factors rather than from the enemy.

Though obvious from an outsider perspective, trainees still engage in this exact same approach when it comes to how they lift.  They believe that success is simply the byproduct of time invested, and that, as long as they follow the path everyone else is following, they will achieve success.  To these “warriors”, the war against the iron is a war of attrition, where every day we give it our all in hopes of making an inch of progress.  It is this same mentality that allows unsuccessful trainees to claim future successes, just like many unwise generals, believing that victory is guaranteed, it’s just a matter of putting in the time and effort.

Listen buddy, I read Starting Strength, so just STFU and listen to me because I'm going to be HUUUGE

These wars don’t work folks.  If you want to win, you need to employ a page from the playbook of Washington and Mao Zedong and engage in some unconventional warfare.  Against an enemy with overwhelming force and firepower, your best bet isn’t a head to head conflict, but instead hit and run tactics designed to cause chaos rather than direct damage.  You don’t win a war by killing the enemy, but instead by killing the enemy’s will to fight.

This is the same war we must be waging in the weightroom.  We aren’t going to win by using the same tactics that everyone else is using.  If that were the case, everyone else would be successful.  There is no Geneva Convention for us, there are no peace treaties, the ceasefire has ended, it’s time to fight dirty.  This means doing things RADICALLY different from everyone else, because we wish to end this war quickly and violently.  Everyone “knows” that you have to train deadlifts?  Cut them out.  “Need” to rest 48 hours between workouts?  Train everyday.  Have to train the body as a unit?  Train your right side on Monday and your left side on Tuesday.

It’s not about being different for the sake of being different, it’s about observing the data you have before you.  The boon of the internet is the fact that everyone is documenting their lives and actions, and as a results you can witness the effects of certain actions without having to take them yourself.  And the reality is that most people are failing with their approach to training.  Everyone is using the same warplan, starting off with some Stronglifts, then transitioning to the Texas Method, then to 5/3/1, then a little bit of smolov jr., rinse and repeat.  Where are the champions here?

Those that have won the war are those that fought a bloody campaign that ran counter to convention.  When asked what routine they employ, almost every successful lifter reports that they don’t have a routine, and just do what they need to succeed.  These are the unconventional guerilla warriors who brought down empires through sheer force of will and ingenuity, throwing out the playbook and winning by any means necessary.  You hold no treaty with yourself nor the lifting community at large, and if you must be a war criminal in order to end the war on your terms, I say it’s time to go nuclear.

The training world is full of people in red coats marching in straight lines and politely trading shots with their body in the hopes of victory.  You need to put on the warpaint, find a sniper spot and plant some claymores.  While everyone else fights for inches, you need to fight for victory.

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