Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

If I had to say what the biggest difference in the way I trained a year ago and the way i train now is, the difference would be bullheadedness.

To clarify, a year or two ago, I trained under the assumption that, because I’d read a couple of books, I knew all I needed to know. Not just the knowledge to get strong, but I was so smart I was going to reach my natural genetic potential. I’d see people doing exercises in the gym (exercises that I either didn’t like or wasn’t familiar with) and say, “Well, those might work for them, but I’m way different; I don’t need to [insert exercise here].” It was an ego boost to feel like I was doing the master-supremo-maximus workout and know that I had all the secrets to lifting heavy. Right up until someone would come in and hoist Pumping Iron-heavy weight and I’d be like, “Oh I’ll get there eventually.”

I think you really have to have someone come in and shock you with how much better they are than you for you to really give an honest assessment of where your mind and body are at.

You really have to get rid of the, “That works for them, but it won’t work for me, I’ll keep doing this,” mindset. I’d really been cheating myself every time I’d see someone come in and throw a couple hundo up and think to myself, “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing to get there,” as opposed to, “What the hell is this guy doing.”

Three people I’ve seen in my gym really come to mind (really because I’ve been able to watch what they do). These are really strong guys.

Two are essentially the grand masters of front and back squats, respectively. I’d come in and see them put 405 on the bar and push some reps and immediately think, “I hate squats, I am not good at squats.” Eventually, you reach a point where you have an internal dialogue that goes something like this:

>I want to squat big

>Okay, then do squats

>B-but I don’t like squats and they hurt

>Then stop lifting, nobody likes a guy that skips leg day

I think it’s a humbling moment to have made legitimate progress, but realize that what’s been holding you back is your lack of cojones.

For the longest time, my chest lagged behind everything else I did. It still does, but lets tell ourselves I’ve made progress. I got away with telling myself and others that I’d dislocated my shoulder (sophmore year of highschool) and couldn’t [read: didn’t want to] bench. Then I started to bench and eventually was just doing 3×6 bench every time I worked upper body, expecting to see results.

Enter the third guy.

Picture in your mind the physical manifestation of the words “human tank.” Chances are you have pictured him correctly: the widest set of shoulders I’ve ever seen and a gigantic chest. I’d come in and whenever I’d see him, the heaviest weights on the dumbbell racks would all be missing. About ten feet from the racks were 100, 110, and 120 lb dumbbells strewn about. Nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but an absolute beast. By then I’d had my epiphany: I was going to steal this guy’s chest routine.

I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing someone else’s routine. In fact, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. It’s an homage. Seeing someone with a great chest or great legs and not saying, “I need to do what he’s doing,” is what wasted so much of my time.


If you were to ask me why I became a trainer, the answer would probably be something along the lines of, “By default.”

I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It’s not even a knock against myself. I’m too young to be a doctor; I’m still working on bigger things. But what I love is training. This is my career for now until something takes its place (if anything ever does). Why? Because I can have everything. Being a great trainer, transcending the ordinary, requires an understanding of all fields of human knowledge. Physics, anatomy, biology, and mathematics are all integral to training. Absolutely necessary. But the great trainers are masters of philosophy, they’re wordsmiths, they’re motivators, and, most importantly, they don’t settle for “good enough.” I love this aspect. Being a trainer is much like the nature of training itself. You are never stagnant, you must always exceed your level. Honestly, I’d rather be doing something that fulfills my craving for excellence than something that pays well but leaves me empty inside. Life is too short to do anything other than what makes it worthwhile.

As an athlete, whatever you do, never accept “good enough.” This is your enemy. Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Bruce Lee could perform one handed, two finger pushups. Men conquer the highest mountain peak every year; they climb so high that, were their oxygen tanks to break, they would surely die minutes into the descent; they climb so high that the curvature of the earth is visible. Your body is capable of truly epic feats.

Knowing how to use it… That’s something different. I did stupid things when I started. Everyone does. Things that don’t make a bit of difference in your workout, things that have the sole effect of tiring you out. It’s only by being fed up with my progress stagnating that I was able to break the plateaus I encountered.

You’ll face sticking points. Everyone does. When you do, go read. Research. Do. When doing one thing gives you an undesirable result, there’s only one option – do something different! Don’t be afraid to try new things (within reason). Look up how to break plateaus. I can promise you that without the drive to learn new techniques, to truly exceed yourself, you will go nowhere.

Bruce Lee once said, “Be water.” It’s my motto. When water encounters an obstacle, it doesn’t push against it, doesn’t get fed up. It simply flows around. Water carves a canyon not through raw strength or anger but through persistence.

Approach your training with the same persistence. Changes will not happen overnight. Rome was not built in a day. Be persistent in your training and when you encounter an obstacle or a sticking point, be water and find a path with which to flow around your plateau.

What is success?

I have a professor, who, in the short time I’ve known him, has had a huge effect on the way I view life as a whole. He says, “On my deathbed, will I wish I had an extra ten thousand dollars or wish I’d done that one thing I always dreamed of doing?” Think about it for a while. Think about how certain things have left you feeling more empty than others. As Bruce Lee said, “Life is meant to be lived.” I have always believed that to truly understand things in life, one must completely abandon all preconceptions one has about that thing. Assume everything you’ve been told is a lie. Once you’ve gotten rid of everything that everyone in your lifetime has put on you, all of the ideas that they’ve held and projected onto you, you can begin to see things as they really are. When I did this, when I threw away everything that I’d believed success was (the progressive valuation of a bank account, measuring your net worth in dollars as a person), my personal definition of success became clear. I had once been overweight, now I am fit. I knew this was success, but what defined it as success? Why did it make me happy?

I was now the person I was once jealous of. I once envied fit people, felt separated from them, and resented the difference. Hard work, the will to become better, had made me into the person I was once jealous of. That seemed like a pretty good definition of success.

So find out what really makes you happy. At the core. Do not let other people define success for you. Remove what society, your family, and friends told you and chase what you seek at the very base fabric of the being you are. If at the core, you are driven by money, chase it. But remember… chasing, that’s not the hard part. The hard part is chasing the right thing.

What motivates you to work out?

Anyone wanting to look better struggles with this. Everyone who works out. Why go to the gym today? “Let’s make it a rest day,” your logical brain reasons with you. But you don’t. You go to the gym and you lift the hell out of that iron, sprint on the treadmill, do… whatever ellipticals do. It doesn’t matter what motivates you. People who aren’t of strong will will argue, “You just lift for girls,” “You’re gonna end up muscle-bound, you know.” You don’t listen to them. Don’t even question them. Sure, you could be lifting for a girl or all of the girls, you could be on the elliptical trying to tone up your butt for the guy you see all the time, you could even be doing whatever you do in the gym in the hopes you’ll find someone to fight. What does matter is this: You Are There For You. If you weren’t there for you, you wouldn’t be there. You go to the gym and fight not only gravity, not only time, but you fight yourself. The voice inside you that says you had a hard day, that you’re too sad or had too much food today to get a good workout. You’re fighting yourself for yourself. You want what you want and that’s all that matters. That you have something driving you to pick yourself up from wherever you are and make what you’re given even better. So get out there today and work out. Hard. You know what you can do, now go further today.