This Is Silly: An Outlook on Training, Part 1

This is part one of a two-part series.

A colleague of mine, Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness, wrote a blog on his website titled “This is Silly.” That blog inspired this article, which basically encompasses everything silly in the confines of nutrition and the many different opinions out there.

An outlook on training concerning family

My dad recently came to visit me and my sister from our hometown. One way or another, as is usual when relatives or friends are around me, the topic of nutrition and training comes up. He said to me, “Your old man has been working out lately a couple days a week. I’ve been doing a step class that has resistance training intertwined in it and the other days are bodybuilding type splits.”

He didn’t use the terminology “bodybuilding splits,” but I threw that in there to summarize what he was in essence doing. At this point, I had a choice. I could say to him, “Dad, what you’re doing is a waste of time and this style of training won’t get you anywhere.” Or I could just sit back and smile and be glad my dad was striving to be active and humbling himself enough to talk about it with me. The fact that he was bringing it up to me tells me I have done something in him to keep him lifting and moving.

Look at your surroundings and your family. How many of them even do anything remotely resembling strength or conditioning work? Was I going to introduce my dad to block periodization, 5/3/1, or anything like that? Hell no. I’m happy he’s doing anything besides sitting on his ass drinking a bottle of wine every night to pass the time, which may be part of the skyrocketing estrogenic levels among men nowadays. I choose the latter and decided to just smile.

I took a sip of my water, looked at him, and asked him one question. “How is your body feeling?”

He said, “I feel great.”

I replied, “Perfect. Dad, I’m so glad you’re working out and being conscious about your health.”

That was our conversation. I listened and kept my mouth shut because it wasn’t about me. It was about him. The only time I chimed in when we talked about working out was if he mentioned that he was hurting. But he isn’t hurting. He’s happy with what he’s doing. Who am I to change a positive habit with my own ideas? It isn’t about you.

An outlook on training concerning clients

This kind of conversation may start when your client walks through the door. “I ran five miles yesterday trying to burn off this extra fat left on me and I only ate 500 calories today.” Huh?

First off, let me start by saying that our clients don’t view training as we do. It isn’t their entire lives. They do not eat, breathe, and live it like we do. Although we try to instill this in them for their personal success, what we must do is educate them based on their goals and find common ground. Some don’t even know what they’re asking for nor do they realize the commitment it entails. Are they willing to do what they’re asking for?

The one hourers: Some want to look shredded and a buck 85 like in high school, but they weren’t really that shredded then. What they remember from then compared to how they look now are two different things. Is what they’re asking for realistically based on their personality, work ethic, and discipline? Some just don’t give a shit. I should say in a more positive manner, they give you the hour and not anything more outside of it. Training is a stop on the train, an hour away from the kids, an hour outside of team practice, games, or school, an hour away from the job they despise. They are going to have their two glasses of wine at night, they’re going to network at clubs, and they’re going to be on the computer until two in the morning. They’re going to do what they want because it’s a behavior that they don’t want to leave, their crutch if you will.

I did not mention this because it’s a bad thing, but when they expect results without having to make sacrifices, this situation isn’t good.

The converted: They do well most of the time and occasionally say F it. I believe the majority of folks we see fall into this category if we’re doing a good job. The converted believe in you, listen to what you say, and are willing to make sacrifices to achieve their idea of success. They are conscious and choose to keep their eyes open to benefit their body.

The ass kickers: These folks are wired to not give in to normality, neither are they born to it. They eat clean, get to bed on time, and are in better shape than you if you’re doing your job correctly. These are the folks you train with to push yourself and challenge yourself. My 47-year-old female client can bust out 15 legit chin-ups. There aren’t too many guys doing that. Sack up guys. I must add a side note—she is a genetic freak anyways and crazy strong, so she would fall into the category of you work with them and try not to get them hurt. It’s like Buddy Morris said, “You don’t train Curtis Martin. You work with Curtis Martin.”

So what does this mean? This means choose your battles and don’t break your own heart. I learned this from my colleague Ryan Burgess. It pissed me off because I want all my clients to be ass kickers and not settle for anything but their best. However, if they don’t want to be ass kickers and are happy with breaking a sweat, so be it. Swallow your pride and ego. Let them be happy being them. You be happy being you. You have control over yourself and staying in the ass kicking zone, and when they decide to get serious, they can.

Things to think about for success

There are things in life that need to take place in order for them to work. Squat to poop, propose to marry, eat to live, read to learn, gravity to fall, strength to stand, and a hand to shake. There are some things in training that must be done in order for you to succeed and for you to keep your mind off the so-called rules.

  • Practice what you preach. This is number one. Be the example.
  • Keep it simple. What can we do that will provide the greatest effect to the body in the least amount of time.
  • Lift or press something heavy. I learned this from Jason Ferrugia. Perform 1–5 sets of 1–5 reps on the main lifts followed by 6–15 reps on the assistance lifts, pushing to a density style training. Finish in an hour to an hour fifteen minutes.
  • Training should be instinctive, not always planned. Listen to your body. If you randomly hit a set of deadlifts because your co-worker had 225 lbs on the bar and it feels like a piece of cake, work up to a heavy triple and call it. Don’t just say, “Well, I squatted two days ago and I shouldn’t deadlift” or better yet, “Even though my shoulders feel horrible, I’m going to try to bench.”
  • The conjugate method is handy when…you understand it and have athletes under your guidance for multiple years, not two months.
  • Do not buy into what others say is the next best thing. Folks, TRX is not a godsend and neither is a Bosu ball or kettlebells, although kettlebells are pretty useful. Look up Dan John.
  • Warming up is great and so is stretching.
  • Stop BSing yourself. If you don’t like the way you look, change it.
  • Stay with a program. If you just purchased an ebook or whatever, stay with it for awhile—for at least 4–6 months. Don’ hop around doing randomly implemented programs. The best way to find out what works best in attaining your goals is to stay with it. A hybrid of programs would work such as 5/3/1 with three assistance exercises followed by a fat loss/Tabata/Strongman circuit. Just commit to it. Stop trying everything or better yet, stop doing nothing.
  • Find a mentor. Currently, I’m learning from a man who is an absolute genius. He’s a smart man and a freaking beast! He trained, learned from, and knows the likes of Lee Haney, Matt Mendenhall, Fred Hatfield, Rachel McLish, Bertil Fox, Mike Christian, Bob Paris, and Richard Sorin. You need someone like this in your life. He or she can change everything you know about training and may just have an impact on who you become or know in this field.
  • Perform squats. High rep squats work well for putting on mass. Don’t believe me? Look up Tom Platz repping out 500 lbs 23 times ass to grass. Use caution with these, as it will kick your ass for a week.
  • Do hill sprints. These are the best exercise second to clean eating for fat loss.

The author enjoys these and you should, too.

Lighten up. Dude, if you want a beer, drink one. That won’t make or break your training. If you club it three nights out of the week, this will destroy training. Know the difference.

Shut up and listen. You’ll be surprised what you will learn if you listen to others without trying to chime in. You may not agree with 95 percent of what comes out of their mouth, but the other 5 percent may actually help you progress your training. Nobody is right and nobody is wrong. The only people right are those who make the effort to try the things that were once neglected. Switch nonsense to commonsense and find common ground.

Shut up on the Paleo diet. Ha ha! I do believe it has validity but so does the notion of eating real food. If God made wheat, it won’t kill everyone and cause leaky gut. It will only cause damage for those who stress enough over gluten. Sweet potatoes are awesome post-workout. That’s all I will give you Abercrombie fiends. A good motto that Sean Croxton coined was J.E.R.F.—a shocker to be revealed later.

Go to the beach to recover and stretch. Some of you don’t have this option, which sucks. One of the best things you can do for recovery is to take a walk. Try this on the seashore to get your mind right and realize how little in life we need to enjoy it.

Compete or watch a rugby match. This is how our youth ought to be raised—with some balls and collisions. That sounded bad, but it’s kind of funny so I’ll leave it for the next thing to think about.

Don’t take life or training too seriously. This is something I’ve struggled with personally. I love training, and when it comes time to lift, it is time to stay out of my way. This is how I’m wired. But here is the deal—you need to have fun every now and then. Lighten up, man. Play some pickup games for a warm up, bust your training partners’ balls, and enjoy your ability to learn from the best on this website. Life is too short, man. It can be taken away in a second. Know when to turn on the attitude and know when to smile, breath, and enjoy what you have.

Girls need to lift heavy as well. If you want to be skinny fat, then run. If you want to be lean, then lift heavy and condition. If you want a softer look, I have no idea what to tell you other than watch how often you lift and drink more wine.

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About the Author

Matt Brown, BS, CSCS, is 25 years old and recently competed in his first powerlifting competition in Santa Barbara, California. He strives to be an example to others and realizes life isn't all about lifting but rather seeking to become better a little at a time even if it means throwing in the occasional beer with friends.