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How Much Strength is...Enough?

I've been asking myself the same question over the past few years: "How much strength is enough?" Sometimes the answer is easy - like when someone can squat a piano, but they can't walk up a flight of stairs without panting.  

But other times it's less obvious. When someone is new to fitness and everything needs to be improved, or they have a specific goal like running a marathon or completing some other physical event.

And as much as it pains me to admit, there's more to training than simply being the Mayor of Gainz City.



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Pressing Pause

My peak writing time always seems to be between 3-5:30 PM.  I don't have a "scientific" reason why. But it's usually when my afternoon coffee is flowing, I've just pigged out(?) on salad, and I'm riding high after deadlifting the equivalent of a smart car (I wish!).

Unfortunately, it tends to be the least writing conducive part of my day.  I'm either training myself during that time or I'm heading back for the second half of my workday. On good days and weeks, I can usually eke out 20 minutes of writing. But many times it's nothing and I can't help feeling guilty.

I've thought about taking a different approach: taking a few weeks off from writing every year until my schedule settles down. By pressing the pause button, it'd release my guilt when I can't get much accomplished, and who knows, maybe I'd find a different hobby outside of strength and conditioning (but probably not).

Yet, I always come back to the same arguments: 1) with no kids and minimal liabilities, this is the calmest and easiest life will ever be for me!  And 2) writing is a craft that you can only improve by, you know, actually writing.  As a result, I always decide to forge ahead regardless of how slow it might be.

Of course, I'm not just talking about my own writing schedule - I'm giving a glimpse into how most people think and act when it comes to changing their diet and exercise habits.

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3 Confessions from a Physical Preparation Coach (Part III)

It's January.  Like late night NYC pizza joints after 2 am or Jon Hamm doing H&R Block commercials, that means it's busy season for Strength and Conditioning professionals.

Unfortunately, that means my writing has taken a back seat.  Between working with clients, my own Tactical Strength Challenge prep, and trying to win The Bachelor Fantasy League, there really isn't enough time in a day.  But that doesn't mean I've stopped thinking.

In fact, I'd like to revisit my "Confessions from a Physical Preparation Coach" series I started last year.  Part advice and part memoir, the topics below don't quite have enough "meat" to make up a full post.  But they've been learned in the trenches and are every bit as valuable.

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Even More Pressing Matters

There's a few things I hate:

  1. When people spell "defiantly" but mean "definitely."
  2. People that rush off an airplane, eager to beat everyone seated in front of them.
  3. A general lack of gainz.

Luckily, I haven't come across #3 in the past four months. As I wrote here, I've spent that time on a simple - but not easy - program, to improve my pressing, pull-ups and get-ups. The results were fantastic and the gainz were plentiful. 

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The Tabata Fallacy

I think there's some masochism inside all of us.  At least when it comes to suffering through conditioning and cardio. It's why high intensity work is so popular, and the association seems pretty clear - work hard, embrace the suck, get results.  And to some degree that does happen.

But only using high intensity conditioning, or using it too frequently, is going to lead you nowhere fast.  It's a lesson I learned through my own conditioning, as well as writing programs for my clients.  Both myself and (most of) my clients loved sweating, breathing hard, and getting smoked.  But I couldn't figure out why some people weren't getting better, and why they weren't improving markers of fitness (lowering their resting heart rate, increasing their heart rate variability, increasing VO2 max, decreasing musculoskeletal pain).

That's because I had fallen for what I like the call the "Tabata fallacy."

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