Training, Goals, and The Lessons Learned along the Way

Training, Goals, and The Lessons Learned along the Way

Discipline: The desire to achieve is rooted in discipline.

Motivation will wane moment by moment, it is the consistent action of doing the work towards your goal that will help determine your success.

425361ad9732efa18d793877530af8f4

White belt to black belt mastery:  Process and building the foundation of success.

When it is our desire to learn we do so as a beginner. Through our studies and with a patient and disciplined approach we continue our growth. This takes us to new levels as represented in the color of our belts. But deep within the levels or belt colors lies lessons beyond what we see or experience or for that matter what the belt color might tell us or others. The true mastery is going beyond the lesson of the belt and observing and learning the deeper lessons being offered.

fullsizeoutput_10a1

Teachers and being a student: The best teachers are students.

The best teachers have teachers. Even the master has a teacher. Yes it is possible to learn something from anyone, any situation. But learning from a master provides a level of understanding that goes far beyond learning in random situations and circumstances of daily life. Teachers have a wisdom that can help convey and teach lessons that go beyond the experience. Teachers can help to understand what is beyond say the movement or sport. Learning from an experienced teacher and being open minded like that of the white belt mentality will provide more wisdom than can ever be obtained otherwise.

Preparation: 

When setting a goal it is important to be clear what it is you wish to achieve. To broad a goal and it will be difficult to set in place a plan and properly prepare. As the great coach John Wooden once said, ‘failing to prepare is preparing for failure’. Additionally preparation provides a number of other potential benefits when it comes time to achieve your goal. In cases of performance it can help alleviate many of the stressors aka much of the noise that potentially will hamper or hinder you potential. Understanding what lies in hand and ahead is a powerful way to set your minds potential and adjust your attitude to a place/vision of success.

th

Know your limitations:  We all have them regardless of what you may believe.

These limitations are an opportunity to empower oneself. They offer us a deep insight and understanding of who we are and what it is we need to be our best self. Respect the limits, know the limits, understand the limits and move within and beyond.

Become your best self, there’s nothing to achieve: 

Contrary to popular believe there is nothing to achieve other than that in which you have determined worth achieving. If you allow others to determine what is important you will not be living your truth but theirs. While we may see something another is doing or has done as a source of motivation it is important that it aligns with our true self, our true nature. In a world where everyones ‘achievements’ are easily shared it is easier to be distracted and become derailed. It is difficult to ignore what are some amazing human feats and the potential that exists, but it is crucial that we understand how these relate to us before allowing them to impact our direction and choices.

Practice: 

To be good we must learn, we must study, we must observe, we must listen and by all means we must take this into a daily practice. Practice must be clear and directed. One must practice with attention to detail and an open and critical mindset. Practice should not be taken lightly, it is the foundation of success. “All practice takes hard work but not all-hard work is practice.” Practice helps not only develop the skill but also the mindset of success.

It’s not always fun: 

Truth be told, training, practice, preparation and the process is not always enjoyable and it should not be. The essence is the moment, being present and be challenged. Moving the body and mind in a healthy way requires learning how to do so. Most skills take time and have a significant learning curve. Many of the tasks along this curve will be less than enjoyable and leave you wondering if its worth it. I can say that if it is important enough then yes its worth it. Its not always the goal that we are chasing but we don’t often understand this until we are deep into the process and training. As Bruce Lee famously said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

th-1

Deadlift PR, 570lbs

In July of 2016 I committed to a goal of establishing a new deadlift PR. I had a great system and structure to follow and a coach I knew whom would support and guide me.

My plan was simple

1)Deadlift once a week based off percentages from prior 1 rep max.

Note for the initial phase I only had an old PR from 2010, not exactly reliable. However I knew I could pull 505 & figured this would serve to guide me to build a base, test and set the parameters percentage wise.

All deadlifts were to be done in singles, aka 1 rep only sets.

Structure looked like this

Week 1: 70% for 15 singles, 1 every 30 seconds

Week 2: 75% for 12 singles, 1 every 30 seconds

Week 3: 80% for 10 singles, 1 every 30 seconds

Week 4: 85% for 8 singles, 1 every 1.5 minutes

Week 5: 90% for 6 singles, 1 every 2-3 minutes

Week 6: peak week, 101% and new PR and basis for next wave %

This is a program inspired from Westside Barbell and taught to me by my coach/friend Mark Reifkind. I had done it before and it works for me. It allowed a straightforward approach and a way to control factors such as volume, intensity and load. Of course I had flexibility to adjust as needed.

The last cycle Coach Rif suggested a change, adding in a heavier week at 95% for 3 singles followed by a back off week at 80% then peak week. Due to some scheduling I asked to use back the day and therefore split the 85% into 2 weeks doing an 82.5 & 86.5%. I must say this felt like a great modification even if not in original plan.

The 80 & 85% weeks are most difficult in terms of combined load, volume and intensity. Those can be seen as nuts and bolts weeks but truly it is subjective.

Programs like these demand a lot. One must be consistent week in and week out. One must recover as well and pay attention. As a natural and raw deadlift athlete these loads add up. You will get stronger but you should be smart and conservative in your estimates when starting. Build a strong base and then progress using the %. Adjust reps and rest if need be but only if you feel at an uncomfortable risk. But keep in mind getting strong and lifting heavy always has a level of uncomfortable risk.

The new PR is an awesome feeling. Completing a goal and doing the work to get there is quite rewarding. The discipline that it takes to complete such a goal is one of the great lessons learned during this process. Week in and week out doing what is prescribed and  knowing in advance what lay ahead can seem daunting. But I never was scared, never deterred, never worried about whether I could or could not. I knew if I followed the program, listened to my body and made adjustements as need be (which Rif made a major adjustement in mid cycle) that I could accomplish my task. This was not a ego based or false based confidence but a deep understanding of self related to mindset, physical ability and right amount of desire.

Now days as a “Masters Athlete” i find myself more focused than ever. I chose to continue to learn and grow as a beginner. I chose a blend of things that I feel I am deficient in and things I was to excel at. I have goals and I have many yet that lie ahead which I am training at this time. I keep moving towards a level of understanding and if I am lucky some day mastery.

This is not just personal, its professional. I am committed to both excellence in personal and professional and they certainly intertwine and compliment on another. More than ever I want to be a better teacher and coach and feel that leading by example is key. Allowing my actions to speak and support my words. I hope this program does just that. This goes well beyond a Deadlift PR but it sure does feel good! Celebrate your successes! Accomplishing goals big goals is something that does not happen often, thats why they are truly an accomplishment.

A graphical representation. Linear progressions. Seems so simple and in many cases it is. Don’t let people fool you, linear progressions work.

img_0188

Here is a week by week layout

Weight

Reps (all single reps)

70%

315.00

12

75%

365.00

10

80%

405.00

8

90%

455.00

6

Peak

505.00

2

70%

335.00

15

77%

385.00

12

85%

425.00

10

95%

485.00

6

Peak

515.00

2

70%

355.00

15

75%

385.00

12

80%

415.00

10

85%

440.00

8

90%

465.00

6

Peak

535.00

1

70%

375.00

15

75%

405.00

12

80%

430.00

10

85%

455.00

8

90%

485.00

6

Peak

550.00

1

70%

385.00

15

75%

415.00

12

80%

440.00

10

82.5

455.00

8

86.5%

475.00

6

90%

495.00

4

95%

520.00

4

80%

440.00

10

Peak

570.00

1

 

 

3 Aspects of Human Being Worthy of Daily Cultivation

There are 3 aspects of the Human Being worthy of daily cultivation; Body, Mind, & Breath. I will go one step further and state that these are a necessity.

Body: Movement is the key. Moving in a variety of ways is crucial, whether you do yoga, martial arts, Crossfit, run, climb, bike, hike, dance, etc. The key is move and keep learning new ways to do so. This will not only benefit the body, but the mind/brain as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mind: I will sum this up purely from my personal perspective. Mind is attitude, perception, thought process, mindfulness, ones ability to see things beyond the social norms. Mind is and may be the most challenging of all. For me it is an understanding of life and what is happening in and around me at all times. It is being compassionate and remaining calm in the present moment. It is being mindful of those whom I am communicating with, relating too and thus not holding judgment. It is a practice cultivated through meditation, reading, body movement practices, interactions with others, and reflection. Consistency in this area is by far the most challenging as I have so many social norms, environmental norms that I developed at a young age when I had no concept of this aspect of life and how crucial it would become. I feel that for the past 20+ years I have been working to change patterns of my mind and through this time I have progressed far but as would be the truth, I am only at the beginning. 🙂 For this reason and many more I am placing more emphasis on this aspect of my being. For myself, for my wife, for my family, client/patients, friends and general encounters with strangers. I feel this part of me needs more attention to detail and more practice and time developing. I feel I have great strides to make and I am excited for this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breath: Breath is the essence of life, without it we will cease to exist. Breath is something we spend little time thinking of and we need to spend more time developing. Meditation and movement are to excellent practices which offer us a chance to develop our breath. And, these practices offer us 2 unique ways to do so. I believe meditation is the key practice as this teaches us how to calm the mind and body. Once learned one can then learn how to apply in different situations where a strong foundation and breath practice will serve. Examples include movement, stressful experiences and beyond. Yoga is an excellent practice for cultivating breath and breath within movement.

images-2

Why I Train, A 40 year olds Shifting Perspective

I suppose this is an honest question worth asking myself, especially at 40. Maybe even more so why do I train the way I do which includes following a structured plan (albeit with room for play and learning new things), with a focus and intensity aimed at improving, and as an integral part of my existence.

First things first: At 40 structure is important.
This does not mean I cannot go out and have fun and play around because that is included in my structure. Meaning that my training helps me to be ready to do just about anything or activity. But mostly I train structured because of the need to stay healthy physically in terms of joints, muscle aches and the like, the need to minimize stress on my body and my mind, and to continue to adapt and improve. So, recovery and performance are the dictators of my strategy, structure and plan.
The simple truth is at 40, with a lifetime of sports under my belt I am more conscious of the long term prospects. I feel fit, strong, flexible and capable. I am consistent, dedicated and enjoying the process. And I feel healthy mentally and physically. I have no need to be a pro athlete, a super athlete, etc. if anything I am now focused on helping others get to their goals.
Intensity and Focus:
I have a choice on any given day to train or not. Too me training is a microcosm of life. I am in the gym not just to exercise but as a deeper look into my spirit, my humanity, my person. To me sport is a microcosm of the life we live. I feel professionally it is best to lead by example. I would not ask of others (unless pro athletes) what I would not ask of myself. I have been fortunate to personally experience many realms of sport and I believe this helps me to better understand how to coach others.
Training is also a deep meditation for me. My intensity and focus are an opportunity in that moment to be one with myself. My mind quiets and I take all those years of moving into that moment to get the best and most of that moment and myself. This ties into structure and the idea of practice makes perfect. Indeed it does or at least brings one closer to perfection. It is evident in factors such as weight, sets, reps, time, technique, etc. For example when I roll out my mat to do yoga I know the poses, I have been there countless times so I am able to actually flow and dig into a deeper awareness and state of consciousness within the pose both mentally and physically. This is also no different with lifting weights, and other sports. Practice brings about an ease and that intensity and focus is part of being skilled and able to embrace the moment and feel at one with it and that activity at hand. Nothing seems separate and all seems connected.
Integral Part of Life:
As elluded to above, training is an opportunity for me to enhance my being not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. It is in these times as an athlete or during my training and practice that I learn so much about myself and others. It is a way to exert energy, exercise away stress, spend quality time with friends, have fun with your partner, share a platform with your buddies, spend time with your dog, etc. So much of my life personally and professionally revolves around training, sport, exercise, health, wellness, etc. I have chosen this path and I love it. I met my wife and best friend as a result of being part of this world. I have numerous quality people in my life as a result. And I am fortunate to make a living and be able to afford to live and have time to do  what I enjoy as a result. As I said above, training is a microcosm of life.
Another facet which cannot be ignored is the fact that I have as long as I can remember been a curious person with an adventurous personality. I enjoy learning and experiencing life in all facets and means. As a result I have been fortunate to walk many varied path and experience many a varied thing. I have travelled the world, accomplished 3 degrees including 2 Masters and all in different topics; I have studied and learned professionally with and from some of the top names and the list goes on. It is not this list or the list itself that matters. What the list shows is again how everything is a microcosm of my self, the person I be. This helps explain in large part why I chose the life I have and continue to do.
Of course a key aspect of my life is marriage. I must always consult and take into consideration my wife, where as earlier on in my life this was not the case. I have found my wife by in large to be supportive but also keep a healthy perspective on us and our larger goals. The best part is I can satisfy my curiosity and adventurous spirit in my everyday existence and part of this is training. I certainly desire to rekindle my love affair with nature which means more hiking, trail runs and mountain biking versus time in the gym. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient and the Sun and being in nature certainly fulfills this.
At 40 I feel healthy, fit, flexible and free to just enjoy the process. I do not feel the need to prove, accomplish, win, compete, etc. I am more curious to dig deep within and continue to explore the depths of my being. I hope to be a father and as so be able to lead by example. I suppose I would be lying if I did not say that I hope our kids have a similar love as my wife and I do for fitness, sport, and health.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Incremental Progress

Incremental Progress

Long ago I learned the value of incremental progress. A process requiring patience and attention to detail. Incremental progress takes the approach of having a plan with an end sight in mind.

For example: In the sports of Power and Olympic Lifting competitive athletes know the exact dates of their meets and their current numbers. Within these 2 key aspects of the plan in place, the athlete will plan from the meet date to the first day of the new cycle aimed at prepping them for the meet. For instance if they have a meet in June and it is currently January, the athlete will start their plan from the June Meet Date and look backwards all the way to the current January start of the cycle.

In this example the athlete knows the numbers they currently have, approximately the numbers they should achieve at the meet and the time frame. Certainly we can call this a goal but it goes beyond just having a goal. For these athletes they have spent time day in and day out training making incremental progress towards this day. Often the next meet is not their last but a stepping stone to their next. Along the way the focus on a planned an incremental progress. Along with their coach they have a damn good idea of what each day from January 1st to June 1st will look like in terms of their training including exercises, weights, sets, reps, rest, nutrition, sleep, etc. at least on an elite level.

In my experience and through my training we focus on making incremental progress. In Kettlebells it may be a 1 size increase in bell week by week for 4 weeks, an increase of 1 set per week or even 1 rep per week during that 4 day period. It depends on the movement and overall goal.

In Olympic Weightlifting it may be 1-5 kg from week to week within a movement complimented by a proper adjustment of sets, reps and volume. Typically as the weight increases the sets and reps decrease as a whole, the law of supply and demand and an inverse relationship.

The point is do not rush your training, do not feel as if each time you need to test your limits. Instead focus on building brick by brick, layer by layer, making incremental progress. Schedule and plan back off days and weeks. This applies to all athletes not just elite and probably even more so than those whom train hard while working a regular job and having a life where their sport does not pay them in money but in other more intrinsic rewards.

The Elite perform as such not because they hammer or grind or crush or push and test but through incremental progress and intelligent design. It is fine to push, grind, hammer, test, etc. but have prepare for it so when you do you set a new PR and have something to build off of, a foundation moving forward

. IMG_2663 IMG_2661IMG_2662

The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

  • Discover your passion
  • Find a way to express and live your passion
  • Find meaning in your work and life
  • Be generous, often finding passion in work that helps others brings more joy to your own life
  • Find joy, smile and laugh
  • Be compassionate, place yourself in the shoes of others and see life through their lens. This will often provide clarity and perspective and this will lead to a great understanding, empathy and compassion. This is similar to the concept of non judgement but in my thoughts an easier way to conceptualize and integrate.
  • Be grateful and make the most of out lives everyday opportunity (refer to the above)
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Meditation is a form of absorption. It is being so consumed by what we are doing in the moment that all else ceases to exist. I would surmise that many of have experienced this. I know as a practitioner of yoga, an athlete, a doctor and a coach I have felt this many a time. One instance that stand outs was my first ever rock climbing experience in Joshua Tree. Scared, sweating profusely and filled with negative self talk there were 2 distinct moments when all ceased to exist, I consumed and at peace, my mind quiet, my breath at ease and I was able to take it all in. I can still to this day relive this moment in my mind and body.
  • Think Happy, See Happy, Breathe Happy, Be Happy, it is an attitude and state of mind. If we surround ourselves in our everyday lives with passion, meaning, empathy, generosity, laughter and gratitude we will find our peace and be happy.

This meditation and reflection came about from my current reading and listening.

Here are links to the 2 talks