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Questions to Ask Yourself About Training

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said :"I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."

This is one of the concepts that is built on. If you have been reading this newsletter for a while, you know how much value I place on having a good teacher…but at times you will have to be your own teacher.

Inevitably there will come a time where you will have to make a decision on your own relative to your training; if you have prepared properly, you'll be able to make the best choice you can given the options you have.

Knowledge does indeed bring power and when you know what to do, it all comes down to just putting in the effort which makes many things much easier.

For example, in sports, every game plan looks great on paper but when game day comes around, you never know what is going to happen. You can drill, drill, drill certain situations but if your players can't "be their own coach" and adjust (often in the blink of an eye) on the field when something unexpected comes along, things could get ugly real fast.

When it comes to training, any kind of training, a good coach can point you in the right direction but it is you that ultimately has to do the work. If you are always locked into merely "following orders" you will not be able to adapt and improvise when the situation calls for it especially when there's nobody there to hold your hand.

When you must master the concepts, then you can apply them seamlessly into whatever you are trying to accomplish. Now, that being the case, I see too many situations where someone trains a certain way "just because" they have been told to train that way and no other reason.

Strength training is unique because someone can make pretty good progress even just by "screwin around" but the likelihood is there is a lot of wasted time and frustration involved. What we are looking for is consistent progress at each and every opportunity and this cannot occur if your training is neither here nor there.

With a plan and an understanding, that doesn't have to be the case.

When something unexpected happens (which it always does), a "just because" trainer has no idea how to adjust and adapt since they have no idea why they are doing what they do in the first place now how to replicate "what works" in the future. Of course there are still good questions to be discussed, yet confusion often breeds frustration which breeds quitters and that is never a good thing.

As yourself these questions about your own training:

How frequently do you train and why?

Obviously if "the more you train the stronger you get" was the case, the guy you see at the gym who does an hour of dumbbell curls and an hour of tricep press downs would have 25-inch arms. Needless to say this isn't the case.

As I have stated before, the actual lifting is only a small part of training, it is the recovery and knowledge aspects that are going to truly make the difference. If you train 6 times per week, I am going to assume that it is because it is going to make you stronger and help you reach your goals faster than 5 times per week. If not, you might just be wasting a lot of time and have comparatively little to show for it.

How many sets do you do and why?

Last week, I was looking at a grip course that I recently received. At the end of it, the author stated that you should do 5-8 sets of a certain exercises he was recommending.

So which is it?

Is that 2 easy sets and 3 hard sets or 5 hard sets or some other permutation? I sure don't know and I highly doubt that anyone else does either.

With so many training options in front of you, you could do any number of things… but that isn't the question.

In order to reach your goal, you will need to know only what you should do; what you need to do in order to get where you want to go as quickly, as efficiently and as safely as possible.

If 8 sets will help you reach your goal faster than 5, go for it…but will it? This is the kind of thing you absolutely have to have an understanding of.

Which exercises do you choose and why?

This is a big one. One thing that I see lacking in far too many people who strength train is an understanding of basic human anatomy and physiology. The key to understanding how to train the human body comes from understanding how it functions. It is from this understanding that will allow you to choose the most effective exercises.

Sometimes the reasoning behind choosing a specific exercise comes down to simple personal preference. I have a few exercises in my routine that are by no means "optimum" yet the reason I chose these exercises is because I simply like doing them and I want to get stronger at them (though not at the expense of other goals.)

In other cases though, I have very specific physical goals that I am trying to reach and base my exercise choice around those goals because I want but also because I have to if I want to make as much progress as possible.

In these cases, just as in the training of the body, "function dictates design." If there is some aspect of your workout that you are doing that serves no purpose (other than wasting your time and energy) cut it loose!

If there was a better way to do it, you bet that's how I would be training. These are just a few of the questions that you need to know the answers to. We will be going into more of them as time goes on. This is what separates from everybody else. Strengthen the mind first and the body will follow.

Train hard,

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John Wood

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