Thursday, July 23, 2009

Your Mindset

Ugh, the bickering that goes on about how to train is more than enough to get on my nerves at any given moment. When it doesn't, it can be positively confusing. Seriously, how many different training methodologies and philosophies are there out there that conflict with one another but have people who use them and get great results? Even on a more basic level, what exercises do you use to get strong? What equipment should you use? How many reps should you do? How fast should you do them? How much rest between the sets? Should you cheat? Do you do a 3-second-down-1-second-up tempo? Should you hang rubber chickens 1/3 full of sand from your dumbbells while lifting on a unicycle in order to get the maximum core recruitment? High rep? High Intensity? Periodization? Linear? Muscle Confusion? All of the above? Is all of this just bullshit?

What I'm getting at is that the more that I read, train, and occasionally see how others train, the more I'm convinced that the biggest factor in the training isn't in the method or philosophy. It's contained in the mushy stuff between your ears. Your outlook on your training and your ability to focus and concentrate is what's going to make the single, biggest effect on your training. I can't come up with any other explanation as to why some people excel on the same training modality that others fail dismally at.

There is some hard science to back me up on this too. The Yule and Cole Study back in 1992 found that strength could, in fact, increase just by sheer thought! They proved this by having people exercise their pinky (to eliminate variables that occur during complex motor tasks) against resistance while others didn't move but IMAGINED doing the same movement. Both groups increased their strength in their pinky by 30% and 22%, respectively. Pretty impressive performance for sheer thought.

This explains a lot of things to me. Far too often, I hear about the ineffectiveness and the inferiority of BW compared to weight training. I've heard instances where a naysayer will point to a BW trainer with an unimpressive physique as evidence of BW's lack of results. I've seen people doing the exact same exercises that I do but don't get a fraction of the results that I do. Then again, I see them moving without control or conviction. There's a difference between simply moving and exercising. That difference is the mental concentration that the practitioner puts into the movement that makes it exercise. This has been observed as far back as Sandow... probably even farther back than that.

The fact alone that some don't like to do certain exercises or routines will also play into lack of results. After all, if you don't like what you're doing or don't believe it will work, what makes you think that you'll get any results from it? Most likely, you won't continue with what you're doing. You certainly won't put forth your best effort even if you persevere. Either way, you won't get the results that you're looking for because your mind and spirit aren't into the work.

Just as the best restaurants aren't the best just because their food is better than everyone else, your mental outlook isn't the sole purpose you'll succeed or fail at your goals. Obviously, routines and exercise selection do play significant roles in your physical culture. I happen to think that the mental aspects of training are the most important and the most neglected aspects of training. I think part of the problem is that strength training has become so scientific and more ethereal and metaphysical aspects, like mental focus and outlook, get ignored. Plus, there is so much that isn't known about the mind, the nervous system and how the two correlate to your training.

Still, just because it's hard to analyze and prove doesn't make it not worth it. Whenever I've set out on a new personal record, what's got me there more than the structure of my training is the belief that I can do it and the drive that makes me achieve my goals. How you do what you do is always going to be important but your mind's response to what you'll do will always be the factor that makes you succeed or fail.

1 comment:

pierini said...

A darn good cyberspace utterance Justin. I've said it a dozen times or more that the program has got to match the personality. You said that and more with good word choices and a good writing style - a pleasure to read.