Sunday, November 30, 2014


Remember when you were a kid, and you went out to a restaurant that had the placemats for kids?  They gave you crayons to draw on the table with, and your placemat had some sort of word search, a picture to color in and some other means to entertain you until your food arrived.  These always ended up having some sort of maze on them, usually where you were trying to get a customer to whatever food the joint specialized in by selected one of several paths.  Pick the right path and your dude gets to enjoy a delicious milkshake, whereas choosing the wrong path would lead to anything from bad food, no food, a prison sentence, syringes filled with AIDS blood, having your head cut off by insurgents, etc.

If you grew up poor, you may instead remember this experience in coloring books

The exact nature of the maze isn’t what’s important here.  What we’re going to talk about is the two ways people solved these mazes.  Many would choose the obvious approach of selecting one path, seeing where it would go, and if they hit a dead end, start over with a different path.  Sometimes, they would go down so many wrong paths that they would need to switch to a different colored crayon in order to keep track of all their previous mistakes before finally accidentally stumbling upon the correct path.  Those that knew how to solve mazes, however, knew that the trick was the start at the end and work backwards.  In doing so, you solved the maze in one shot, and had plenty of crayon left over to draw balls on the hot dog to make it look like a penis.

Somehow, we all grew up, people quit giving you crayons when you go out to eat (which is crap if you ask me), but many of us never absorbed the lessons from these mazes.  At the end of our training, we should reach our goal.  This is the whole purpose of training.  If we do not reach our goal, our training has failed us, no matter how well built, we constructed, well planned, or well promoted.  There are many many plans out there, but not all of them will reach our goals.  Knowing this, how do we pick the path that is right for us?

Many seem to think it's really this easy

Many trainees still implement the strategy of deciding on a path first in the hope that this path will somehow end up at the goal.  They make a determination like “all squats must be below parallel”, “all deadlifts must be deadstop”, etc etc, committing to this path regardless of how it will actually impact their progress.  They then lock themselves down this path, unconcerned with if the actual outcome will achieve their goals.  They have pledged their love to the path itself, not understanding that the path is simply a means of reaching the goal.

Those that learned the lessons from their childhood understand that the above way is simply going to result in running into dead ends along the way.  What we must instead do is always start from the goal and work backwards.  We decide “I want larger quads” as our goal, and as we travel down the path of our training, we keep monitoring to ensure that we are reaching this goal with our path.  We’re squatting ATG and our quads are getting bigger?  Excellent, keep on this path.  We’re squatting to powerlifting legal and our quads are getting bigger?  Excellent, keep on this path.  We’re hitting some mile high Denver squats and our quads are getting bigger?  Keep on this path.  It’s only when we note that our goals aren’t being met that we should double back and alter things.

"Hah!  Nice 1/16th squats dude! ...what gold medals?"

The question “should I train this way” is pointless.  One should train the way that reaches their goals.  A commitment to a path cannot be made until we know if it meets the goals.  One should not stare at the 5 paths and ask “which one do I choose”, but instead decide on their goal, start their training, and change it only when the goal is not being met.  No matter what the people with run down crayons say, the only right way to train is the one that is meeting your goals.

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