Saturday, May 14, 2016

DO NOT MISTAKE SIMPLE FOR EASY


One of my pet peeves is the phrase “easier said than done”, mainly because it’s horrifically obvious to the point of uselessness.  In life, the majority of all things are easier said than done.  Speaking, once mastered, becomes a trivial task (as evidence by how effortlessly many people spew nonsense nonstop), whereas action, in most cases, tends to require more effort.  This is why, whenever a training recommendation is offered and the response is “easier said than done”, it blows my mind.  Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and in fact, in most cases, it is the OPPOSITE that is true.


Image result for forrest gump ping pong
That said, sometimes things come easy to simple people

I have spoken many times to the reality of just how simple it is to get bigger and stronger.  The “dumb jock” stereotype exists because it did not require great brainpower for one to become bigger and stronger.  What gets missed in the translation is that, what was lacking in brainpower was compensated for with skull splitting intensity and effort.  When you lack intelligence, you have to compensate with brutality.  This is how the animal kingdom works, and it’s why man had to be smart; because he couldn’t hope to match the sheer force of will of nature.


However, because we try to minimize language to make our understanding easier, we have falsely equated the simplicity of an action to the ease of it.  A trainee asks what the secret is to getting bigger and stronger, they are told to eat well and lift hard, and they walk away unsatisfied; surely it can’t be that easy.  But it’s NOT easy; it is merely simple.  In reality, it’s going to be incredibly hard to accomplish, with many moments of agony and misery resulting in one questioning why they ever wanted to pursue this goal in the first place, yet the entire time, the solution will be amazingly simple.  Simple, yes, but not easy.


Image result for the great outdoors steak
It's simple; just eat the whole thing


But the unsatisfied trainee will not accept simplicity as an answer; if it was that easy, everyone would be big and strong, right?  Therefore, the solution must be more complex, because that will mean that we have found the hard way to do it, no?  And thus begins the search for magic bullet solutions; mysterious supplements, exotic programs with crazy rep and set schemes, Russian training manuals, secrets passed down from locker room to locker room, the perfect steroid cycle, etc etc.  To appease our need for the path to be difficult, the trainee attempts to replace hard work with complexity, equating both to be the same.


And in reality, the complexity is taking the easy way out.  One can argue and bemoan ad infinitum the amount of “effort” they have put into getting bigger and stronger in terms of how much research they have performed in their quest to “find the secrets”…but that’s easy.  Yeah, sure, it sucks that you sat at your computer chair for hours scouring torrented training books, watching every youtube channel, arguing with like-minded deviants on social media, etc etc…but how is that hard?  That’s the life of a World of Warcraft champion, not an Olympian.  For every hour you spent in an air conditioned house sitting in an ergonomically designed comfort lounger munching on Cheetos, someone was stupidly sweating in agony while a weight attempted to crush their spine out their rectum.  While you “toiled”, someone else gave themselves rhabdomyolysis from 1 too many squats.  While you were too busy being complicated and easy, someone else was being simple and hard.


Image result for computer nerd
Currently in the process of getting jacked

It’s so catchy now to say “just because someone is a great lifter doesn’t mean they’re a great coach”, but instead of being a rallying cry for the weak to use to explain why their advice is valuable even though they are unsuccessful, let’s really look at what this is getting at.  How can someone be a great lifter and a bad coach?  It’s because you don’t NEED to be smart to be big and strong.  A great coach NEEDS to be smart, because they need to be able to convey what they know to someone else, but a great athlete simply needs to be able to push and grind further and harder than anyone else.  A great athlete has to be able to endure the suck more than anyone else.  They have to be able to not quit, work hard, and shut up.  In short, it’s very simple, and incredibly difficult, and that is why there are so few great athletes.


Getting bigger and stronger is easier said than done; now go do it.




---



As an update for my readers, slightly less than 6 months post-op I have been given the clear to train by my physical therapist.  I am still told to go light and watch for pain, but nothing is restricted.  I was told to start out at 60-70% of my previous weights, but I imagine my doctor didn't realize I was lifting over 600lbs, so I am going slightly lighter.  Still technically 6 months out from competing again, but we will see how that goes.



Already getting my squat on.








And, now that I am healed enough, here is the injury as it initially happened






14 comments:

  1. Great to hear your doc gave you the green light! God Speed for the upcoming few months.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the "dumb jock" point, I had never thought about it in particular before. I'm definitely stealing that next time I need to explain this to someone, haha.

    Really great to see you squatting again, man. I'm going to pass on watching the injury video, though...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steal away man. It is mind blowing to me how soon people forget their own stereotypes. I've seen people get the issue confused and think "Those dumb jocks are secretly really smart because you have to be smart if you want to get big and strong", and it's just completely ignoring the Occam's razor solution to the problem.


      And thanks for the encouragement. I don't think the injury video is too brutal, but my sense of normalcy is pretty warped, haha.

      Delete
  3. I just wanted to say that I've been reading your blog for a while now (since January I think), and I find it really uncanny how your recent articles touch on subjects that I myself was just thinking about and the articles come to the same conclusions that I've had. (However that isn't to say I haven't learned alot from your blog). I just got done with my final exams, and so now that I have the time I plan on going back a few posts and 'retroactively' commenting what were my original responses.

    But about this post, I also feel that alot of people forget the effort aspect of training. I've seen people at my uni's gym just going through the motions, moving the cable from A to B without any noticeable exertion on their part. And after moving to a real gym, I've seen clients talk to their coaches about their weekend through a whole set without any sort of stifle in their breathing or any struggle in their body. Obviously, these people still looked the same after a few months. There are even some smarty-pants in fitness coming out with studies saying taking a set near failure(effort) is vastly more important for gaining mass than any arbitrary rep range. (Also, rep ranges are another way for people to complicate training under the guise of making it more 'optimal')

    Great post, I think alot of lifters on the internet are too focused on the 'professionals' who can't give their opinion without saying 'science' ten times alongside it. I think genuinely strong guys like you who can concisely give their opinions are much more valuable. Good job on the recovery, and keep making great content!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to have you reading Alex, and I look forward to your comments on my other posts. It's re-assuring to see other like minded people reaching similar conclusions.


      Effort is the variable that is constantly lacking in the discussion of training. It used to be that we excluded discussing it because it was a given, but now it's excluded in discussion because it's excluded in training. So much fear of overtraining when we should really be afraid of undertraining.


      The rep range stuff is so funny to see come about, because it flies in the face of everyone that wants to believe that it's all about numbers and math. I love it, haha.


      Thanks for the kind words. One of the joys about this blog having no sponsors and making no money is I feel no need to engage in the science discussion. I could have a thousand weak kids love everything I write in my blog because it talks about the science of lifting or I could have a hundred strong dudes read it because it talks about reality, and I prefer the latter.

      Delete
  4. Alex,

    Emevas is like that really strong dude in the gym that everyone watches out of the corner of their eye when they lift.

    I have an old school guy like Emevas in my gym. He looked right through me until I got my poundages up and now checks in on my progress. He helped me hit 100kgs for depth at 65kgs in squat when I was pushing it for the first time and starting to focus on effort. He said, put my belt on, get under that fucking bar and if you fail I will make sure you don't get buried.

    I need the strong guys to tell me how to focus on the key variables that get me strong. Emevas is the meathead online who could also hold court with the young theoretical and experimental physics and Mensa based maths kids that report to me at work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the kind words Paul. I will say that physics and math was never my strong point, but I like to think I can hold my own in political theory and existentialism, haha.


      I tried being smart when I was lifting, and it didn't work. Once I started being stupid, I got pretty strong.


      Glad you got a guy like that in the gym. It's good to see that tradition carried on.

      Delete
  5. Glad to see you're getting back into the swing of things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks dude! Been good having you in my corner.

      Delete
  6. Glad to see you're getting back into the swing of things.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's been good to read your take on all things strength related. I'd like to get your take on a training plan because you lay things out in easy ways to understand. I'm interested in training for GRID competitions as a strength Specialist and was wondering if you have any input that can help me out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd be happy to lend my opinion on it. Do you have something already in mind? What sort of demands are placed on you in GRID?

      Delete
  8. Sorry for my late reply, I didn't bookmark your blog and also didn't get notified of your reply. Here is a link of the training template I'm wanting to pull from. This one is written for a generalist. The position I want to compete in is called a barbell/strength specialist. I would not need to do muscle ups and handstand pushups but would need to do heavy farmers walks and some atlas stone training. Plus be able to do heavy power cleans/snatches in a ladder getting heavier in a timed event. Thanks for any tips! http://assets.southloopsc.com/files/112/SLSC_GRID_theoretical_training_cycle.pdf

    ReplyDelete