Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Post Christmas motivational flu edition

Well 2012 Christmas has come and gone, I hope everyone has gotten all of the double dosing of pies and cookies out of their system and are getting ready to reboot for some awesome training.  I am typing this with either the flu or an extremely bad cold, not sure which one but I do not feel worth a shit at all.  Last week, I had three bad workouts in a row, and told myself "I need to take a week off."  Then instead, I trained last Sunday and hit a rep PR on incline press, and then the bottom fell out.  I actually knew that I needed a break at the beginning of last week.  My mental yearning to train had waned quite a bit but I pushed through any (to three -10% sessions, of course).  

I'm not sure if I had three bad workouts in a row because I was already getting sick, or that my body needed rest and I continued to stress it, and that contributed.  It's possible it was both, but at this point it's hard to say.  I do find it funny that I KNEW last week, I needed to go ahead and take some down time, and now my body is forcing me to do so.

One of the lessons learned here for certain, is that three -10% sessions in a week is a call to just drop shit right there.  I mean, I have the whole grading system for a reason and that's why it is there.  To let you know if something is going wrong or right.  Well honestly, after two sessions that crappy with a couple of rest days between I should have known something was up.  Instead I plowed through, and now the body is giving me "forced rest".  That's fine, I'll take it.  I was going to anyway!  (ok I say that all the time then keep training).

More on motivation differences between men and women - 

So we're coming up on the new years, and of course lots of people will be flooding the gyms (not mine!) and taking up space doing stupid shit, and bragging about how this will be the year they go from fat/skinny/weak/out of shape whatevers to Thor/Hulk/Batman/Fitness model.......and then day 2 of working out rolls around and they start making excuses.

This is what will happen to the great majority of people who pile into gyms after the new years.  I talked to a trainer a few weeks ago and he was already dreading the early part of the year, and I said "just give it 6 weeks.  They'll all be gone".

"Weeks?  Try days.  I literally get some people that sign up for training, that come to one session and never come back."

One session!  Wow!

This is one reason why I tell people that motivation is bullshit.  Basically my premise is, you need to just make getting better a part of what you are regardless of external stimulus (posters, little sayings and mottos, etc).

Women are really worse about this than men.  Women REALLY like the motivation shit.  The sayings and posters and pics, etc.  Just check instagram how much of that shit women collect picture wise, in terms of motivational sayings, phrases, and pics.  Yes, some men do this as well, but I find it to be far less in terms of quantity.

Men are wired to be hunters.  Well, if they aren't hipsters or pussified pacifists.  Then they aren't men.  They just get to walk around with male parts and give the rest of  us a bad name.

Just to drive this point home, I will link to this study, and throw this quote at you from it.........

A new study suggests that to get the same work done, men often expend 70% more energy than women. So tell us — the exasperated wives, infuriated women colleagues, impatient female friends, irritated sisters — what we didn’t know already.

A study of mushroom gatherers by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, to be published in Evolution and Human Behaviour, shows how men spread out far and wide, tackling difficult terrain, vigorously sweating it out to collect the same amount of mushroom as the women did, pottering about effortlessly on easy ground.

Apparently men went looking for mushroom-dense patches, never mind how far or how difficult to reach, whereas women quietly collected mushrooms from patches which could be sparser but easier to reach and more frequently found. At the end of the day, the men and women had the same amount of mushrooms.

Basically, to summarize, women are better "wired" to be efficient with their work.  Their natural process is not to go balls out and tackle the hard work.  It's to work "smarter" not "harder".  In the weight room, this is needed as well in some ways, however because men are natural "hunters" it's easier for us to just adopt the attitude of "crush, kill, destroy" and roll with it.  That seems to resonate with us rather well, and translates over into our attitude about how we approach training.  So we don't need a lot of motivational posters or gimmicks, if you will, to train very hard.  

Women on the other hand, aren't really wired for crush, kill, destroy.  This is not to say that women are lazy.  Hardly.  That's too broad of a stroke to paint with, plus I don't want angry females picketing outside of my house that my balls need to be chopped off, or other such pleasant signs of love and nurturing.  Let me say, I've known tons of women that work their ass off and train hard as fuck.  However in comparison to the dudes I've known that do that, it's a small percentage.  

So for women, they need "reminders".  I still stand by my original theory however.  And everything I've ever seen supports it.  

Women have to summon what I call their "war horse".  They are going to start a new diet, or new program.  If there is a hiccup in there however, it all tends to go to shit.  If a woman breaks her diet, she doesn't usually say "ok, it was  bump in the road, back on the horse", she usually just says "well that's that, I fucked it all up now!" and goes into fetal position mode for a bit.  Then she has to start all over again.  I have seen this first hand, over and over and over again.  Women can and often fall off the wagon for long periods at a time.  Where a guy will have a planned cheat meal in his diet, will enjoy said cheat meal, then go right back to what he was doing.  Women can have serious trouble with doing this same thing.  

The issue, as I've always said, is that motivation sucks for keeping you on point.  Mainly, positive and negative versions.  Positive motivation from an external resource will often lose its luster, or will wane in power.  When that happens, people lose focus.  That's because they are being driven by something external.  It's no different than that toy you got as a kid, that was the most awesome fucking toy EVER.....until about day 9 when you barely notice it anymore.  That's human nature.  Things lose their luster as we become accustomed to them.  

Motivational sayings or pictures may give you a that short term boost, which can be good when you're really down or need a little extra for the day, but if you're constantly having to use them then it's very possible your attitude as a whole needs to be changed about training and what you want out of it.  

Negative motivation is also a very poor choice for "getting up" for something.  It's usually based around proving someone else wrong, or "I'll show them!"  

The issue here is, what if you fail?  Then were "they" right?

What if you do "win?"  What did you gain outside of showing them up?  Generally you never get the satisfaction you think you were going to.  They usually shrug and go "oh well."  It's not like you end up summoning a demon spirit to rip out their liver who then shits devil feces in the wound.  It's never as "awesome" as you envision it.

I offered up a different kind of motivational tactic to a friend of mine lately, who had been struggling to lose weight.  She said she was going to buy a pair of pants that were a certain size, when she hit a certain weight.  She was 1 pound away from that weight, and wanted my opinion on whether or not she should buy them.

"I think you should buy some pants you want to wear three months from now."


"And hang them up from your kitchen ceiling."  

She looked flabbergasted.  

"Why?" she asked me.  

"Because, it will irritate the shit out of you.  If you need a motivational tactic, then pick something that irritates you.  Don't hide the jeans away in the closet or hang them in your bedroom where no one will see them.  Put them someplace that makes company question why those jeans are there, and is an irritating reminder of what you are doing all of this for."  

So she did.  

Some people may say that an irritating motivational tool is negative.  I disagree.  Nothing is positive, negative, or irritating at all.  It's inanimate objects.  YOU get the decide what they mean to you.  To me, irritating is not negative, it's irritating.  However each person gets to decide what that really means. 

Basically, you need to find the tools that do work for you in terms of keeping you "on point".  I am no different.  I generally set small goals that I want to achieve and shoot for those over 6-7 weeks of training.  This is what I have found works well for me.  You may have to figure out something different, but even if you do, you need to learn how to let go of external devices at the constant source of "inspiration" and really grok how to be all about "getting better", all the time.  


  1. "Apparently men went looking for mushroom-dense patches, never mind how far or how difficult to reach, whereas women quietly collected mushrooms from patches which could be sparser but easier to reach and more frequently found. At the end of the day, the men and women had the same amount of mushrooms."

    The only point that can be taken away from this is that men are dumber than women. I vigorously object. What is this, a feminist blog? :)

    1. Guys are dumb, chics are crazy - Carlin

    2. "Boys fuck things up, girls are fucked up" - Louis CK. Ha, gotta love those guys.

  2. Love you stuff Paul Just got SLL yesterday for Christmas and have read it twice and am in the process of laying out the LRB template. I'm super jacked to get after it. Thanks Paul. Keep up the good work!

  3. Grok is one of my favorite words. That Carlin quote made me laugh out loud. You must be on 'da protein today brah.

  4. Another great post,very accurate.However ive got say your lucky to know a Women who actually takes the task of improving her body seriously,here in the UK its an absolute cluster-fuck of a situation....the only Women who seem to train hard,in a crossfit type way or Bodybuilding/powerlifting fashion (and look hot) are always usually Lesbians!,not even bisexual,as that way guys would have a 50/50 chance!!
    The remainder seem to just sit on stationary bikes watching TV and actually get fatter, eventually get bored of training through lack of progress,obviously.
    It never seems to occur to them to use weights.

    1. HaHa, totally agree with you about the UK! Can't wait to move back to the good ole USA!

  5. if i doubled my 93%, is that considered crushing it?