Sunday, January 24, 2016


This is going to get a little philosophical so bear with me. 

Image result for tao of pooh
Did somebody say philosophy bear?!

Many philosophers have argued about the nature of reality.  Some posited that we have no way of knowing if what we experience is even real, or if in fact everything is an illusion and we’re all just brains in jars being given artificial senses (and, consequently, someone ended up making “The Matrix”).  Others argue that there IS a reality out there, but we’re not able to perceive it accurately because we must utilize our senses, which results in bias and imperfections.  Others in turn argue the possibility of many different and concurrently existing realities, resulting in innumerable possibilities of experiences.  And finally, some contend that none of this matters anyway.

For today’s topic, we’re going to assume that there is in fact a reality, and that you have access to it.  What we also must assume then, is that this reality exists regardless of your perception of it.  A chair will still be present even if you are not actively looking at or thinking about the chair.  This assumption becomes critical, because it will explain why MEASURING your reality has no impact on the fact of your reality.

Except this guy can actually get away with it

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about the incessant need of many trainees to know their “stats”.  Bodyfat percentage, 1 rep maxes in a variety of lifts, WILKS coefficient, the “golden ratio”, etc etc, all these things are entirely inconsequential to what IS.  Regardless of what these numbers end up being, they have zero impact on how big and strong you are, as THAT information is the same irrespective of being measured.

Let’s say a trainee looks at themselves in the mirror one day and decides they like how they look.  They think they have a good amount of definition and size, and are proud of their accomplishments.  Now, this same trainee goes and gets their bodyfat percentage measured, and it comes in a whopping 25%.  Did anything change because of the measurement?  No, the trainee still looks exactly the same as they did before, the only difference is that now they have some sort of data point for some sort of information.

Yet, trainees go CRAZY over this sort of stuff.  Everyday there are thousands of kids begging the internet to guess their bodyfat percentage based off of a few poorly taken photos (don’t forget the super aggressive overhead lighting to really create an illusion of leaness).  Why?  The number doesn’t change reality: you still end up looking exactly the same before you got the measurement.  Additionally, trusting amateurs to guess your bodyfat percentage is an exercise in madness, as these folks have zero credentials or experience, and love to quote numbers in the safe range like “12-15%”.  What does that even mean?!

Image result for Forrest Gump
Saying you have in IQ in the 80-120 range can mean wildly different things

The same is true for 1 rep maxes.  Finding out your 1 rep max in no way alters how strong you are, and in most cases, due to how stressful the maxing process is, it actually has the opposite result.  Prior to establishing your 1 rep max, you had the strength already available to move whatever weight it was that you end up moving for your 1 rep max: all that has happened is that you have demonstrated this strength.  Unless you are in a competition, what would be the value of this?  To know?  So you can tell people how much you lift?  Here’s another fun part about reality: you don’t get any bigger or leaner by knowing how much you can lift for 1 rep, nor will you appear any bigger or leaner by relaying this information to someone.  Once again, it is merely a data point, and of no impact to reality.

Our senses may be imperfect, but they are the only tools available to us to experience reality in whatever form it takes.  However you look, that is how you look, regardless of what the scale or calipers say.  However strong you are, that is how strong you are, regardless of whatever you lifted in order to prove it.  If you keep training hard and eating well, you will alter how others perceive you because you will alter YOURSELF, and in doing so none of the data points will matter. 

Or, of course, there is always nihilism.


  1. I always laugh at how you vacillate between nihilism and stoicism. The line is so close.

    1. As a Nietzsche fan, I must lament how much I am letting him down, haha.

  2. I like this post. It reminds me that I should catalog my workouts to know where I need to go from where I am, and not necessarily to know where I am.