Habits Not Willpower

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” -Aristotle.  That boy knew his stuff, Nick will be proud of me. On the other hand it would seem that willpower is a rather limited resource. In 1998 Psychologist Roy Baumeister conducted what I would consider his borderline torture experiment on willpower involving cookies and radishes. In this study, problem solvers were split into 2 groups, one group waited before the test and were allowed to eat cookies, the other group were given radishes, and in a move showing who the evil scientist really was, Baumeister had cookies placed in front of those who were not meant to eat them, some of these poor souls even broke pieces off to have a sniff! After this torture the 2 groups of problem solvers were given their unsolvable problem and those who had been allowed cookies made more than twice as many attempts to solve the puzzle as their tormented peers.   Cookie Monster is an animal in the gym   So it would seem that willpower is finite. Are you the girl who refuses to go to that nice little Italian restaurant for lunch with your work colleagues and munches on a tasteless salad at your desk? And then half an hour before you’re due to go home some scumbag brings out a birthday cake for the lady you never speak to in sales, and she asks if you’d like a slice! You politely decline but you notice that on the drive home as you get to the turning to go to the gym you take the...

A Painful Lesson

It all started in the spring of 1982, Ah I remember it so well, or perhaps I should say ouch!   It was my own fault, I was trying to kick the guy who had just dispossessed me during a soccer match and I remember seeing my leg going beyond straight and then the pain hit, and boy did it hit. The doctor said I had damaged the ligaments of my knee and I needed to rest.   Lesson Learned – 1982 was not a good year to mess up ones knee.   My new scar – finally a cool scar   Over the next 3 years I kept trying to return to football (soccer) despite not being very good at it. And in the process injured my knee to varying degrees another 10-15 times! Lesson Learned – Twice might be coincidence, 10 or more recurrences of injury tends to suggest that you should give up that sport. In 1985 a funny thing happened. I had all my cartilage removed and I was struck with a lightning bolt of common sense. I got more into my lifting and stayed away from multi-directional sport.   Lesson Learned – Appreciate a good thing when you have it.   Obviously I didn’t  appreciate this good thing, I wanted more, and so my dalliance with Martial Arts started. Even I knew after kicking my own knee out – twice that Muay Thai wasn’t ideal for me so the next 12 years were spent doing Aikido and Judo, better for my knee than Muay Thai but not ideal. While not quite as stressful on the...

Start The New Year Properly

Here’s an idea! How about this year you do things right. It doesn’t start with a drunken “This year it’s going to be different”, but with a sober, well thought out goal. Assuming you’re sober here are 3 key strategies which could make all the difference.   1. Don’t buy into crap! OK, you’ve come across Get Mighty Now so you’re less likely to fall for pseudoscientific nonsense, so long as you read / watch / listen to our material, but please keep your guard up. Around New Year time this nonsense can range from “Detox” solutions which after doing a quick Amazon search showed that remedies range from £4.59 for 10 days worth of a Michael Van Straten kit through to a glorified sweat suit which runs to £1260. Just in case you’re wondering everything I saw ranged from utter crap to unnecessary. Other too good to be true products range from exercise systems such as those discussed in Mighty Cast 89, and related to the above, a multitude of highly questionable nutritional systems. If you’re looking for a nutritional plan check out my Get Mighty Now brother Nick’s excellent system here – www.earnyourcarbs.com. As with all our products it’s not easy, it takes work but it does get results, unlike many other highly promoted systems. Bottom line if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Nonsense has been pedalled for many years! 2. Take massive action in one area of your life. It could be really changing your diet by using Nick’s Earn Your Carbs system as mentioned above, or it could be finally committing to following one of my...

Fears Of the Advanced Trainer

A couple of weeks ago Nick and I did a 90 minute episode of the Mighty Cast on this and here are my 3 main points. 1. Injuries will happen! Yes they will, it’s how you react to them which matters. The main point is don’t ignore them, they often don’t go away on their own. If the injury is tendon or ligament based, and not that serious then facilitate recovery by performing high rep work for that area. If that doesn’t help then you probably need to see a professional. In the UK that would be a physiotherapist, not an osteopath, and certainly not a chiropractor! 2. Beware of extreme programmes. As an advanced trainer you shouldn’t be performing a beginners programme but that doesn’t mean that the more complex the programme the better. The Westside template is pretty straight forward, as is the Reactive Training Systems format. My own Mighty Method is very simple, big movements performed with heavy loads with more than just an eye on balance. If you’re having to figure out what your predicted 1RM is in the triceps kickback then there’s something seriously wrong. 3. Beware of emotional training. In the old days the muscle magazines, and these days high profile, glossy well funded by supplement company websites are full of pics like the one shown below. And while I am all for hard consistent training I am for sensible consistent training even more. The talk on the internet is that one should “train like an animal”, but I prefer the phrase “train like a robot”, or indeed a “machine”. Strive to make every set look identical except...

3 Great Squat Variations

Speaking as someone who has a long term shoulder injury I am incredibly lucky that I had some kind of foresight several years ago and I shipped a whole load of equipment over to Darkside Barbell of London (UK), all the way from Elite FTS in London Ohio.   Included in this crate of goodies amongst other things was a Safety Squat bar (SSB), and a Monster Cambered bar (MCB).   These bars came to be hated by all who used them. The SSB throws your head forward, thus putting extra stress on your upper back; whilst the MCB puts more stress on the mid-back.   Using the SSB feels pretty good until you get to a challenging weight and then you get squashed very quickly. Conversely the MCB feels like crap on every set but most of the Darkside lifters end up using a similar weight to a straight bar Squat.     OK Chris, thanks for that; but I had to argue with the gym manager for 6 months  before we got a Power Rack to go with the one Olympic bar they have; I’d have to kidnap his daughter and hold her to ransom before I’d get my hands on bars like that! What can you say that’s useful to me?   Well my friend there are several excellent variations you can perform in most gyms.   The first variation I’m going to discuss can even be done without a Power Rack; this is the Zercher Squat, where the bar is held in the crook of the arms.     The Monstrously Strong Bud Jeffries performing a partial...

Moving Through the Intermediate Phase

There’s nothing wrong with being an Intermediate lifter or athlete, but you don’t want to stay intermediate any longer than is necessary. Take heed of the following to move smoothly through this phase.   Be great at the basics   These points will apply to lifters, bodybuilders, fat loss trainees, and athletes looking to get stronger, or generally improve.   Get great at the basics. Many intermediate trainees look to diversify way too quickly; they will typically add exercises and volume without really thinking things through. Typically once the trainee has stalled while doing a 5×5 version I don’t usually add exercises, I usually simply wave the reps from session to session. For example the trainee will still perform 5×5 in the Bench Press on session 1, session 2 will be 5×10, and session 3 would be 5×15. This kind of template will usually initiate new progress.As a side note when I speak of 5×5 routines I have several variants of this which I use.    Stick with any programme for at least 90 days and give it a chance to work.Please, when selecting a programme use critical thinking; don’t just buy into some overly hyped marketing BS. Obviously I would suggest working through the programmes in my book “Becoming Mighty”.Once the programme is selected then stick with it. If you’re an avid reader, and because you’re here I suspect you might be, then feel free to bookmark any interesting articles you come across, but no matter how enthused you feel about a particular programme or idea you come across please resist the temptation to jump ship. A very...