Home Blog What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Strength Training Program Success

What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Strength Training Program Success

Written on September 8, 2010 at 6:33 am, by Eric Cressey

For those of you who don’t know, my fiancee, Anna, and I are getting married in Maine in early October – which means that we’re in “crunch time” in terms of wedding preparation.  So, much of Labor Day weekend was spent meeting the DJ, visiting the wedding location, and, in my case, smiling and nodding in agreement.  Suffice it to say that Anna is doing most of the planning!

wedding

Daydreamer that I am, during what seemed like a 15-hour meeting with our DJ, I started thinking about how nobody EVER fails in planning a wedding.  Seriously, have you ever been to a wedding where the bride tapped out two weeks before the wedding and declared that she just couldn’t fill out another placecard for table #13?  Ask any married woman (and her husband, too), and you’ll find that wedding planning was one of the most stressful times of her life – but they pretty much have a 100% success rate.

stressed

Conversely, most people bite the big one when they start a new fitness program.  Last I heard, 50% of people stop exercising within six months of starting.  The success of commercial gyms, in fact, hinges on the fact that a huge percentage of the members that enroll don’t actually come after the first few months (if they even make it that far).  Heck, 80% of people who enter the fitness profession leave within one year.  The placecards are kicking people’s asses.

What’s the difference between brides dominating wedding planning, and aspiring exercisers getting whooped in their exercise programs like an American Little League team against a bunch of 25-year-old Cuban “Little Leaguers?”

In a word, accountability.

If you’re a bride, you’ve got a groom counting on you (and helping you along, hopefully).  And, in our case, you’ve got about 140 guests expecting to party like rockstars on your dime.  You’ve got bridesmaids, groomsmen, a minister, an organist, a chauffeur, and an entire host facility – all expecting you to present the complete polar opposite to an epic fail.  You might as well put it on a billboard.

illiterate

The bride has hundreds of people involved in the process to keep her accountable.  Conversely, the upstart fitness consumer usually goes it alone.  I would be very curious to see what the success rate is of people who start exercising with a training partner – and I’ll bet all my 2010 paychecks that it is markedly higher.

Coincidentally, I chatted on the phone on Friday with Tim Ferriss, the author of the wildly successful book, The 4-Hour Workweek.

four-hour-work-week-expanded-and-updated1

Here is a guy who has published a #1 New York Times Bestseller as well as one of the most popular blogs on the internet.  Tim’s also an entrepreneur with his hands in a lot of successful businesses, and he’s learned multiple languages and taken on all sorts of physical endeavors – from martial arts to dancing.  And, most importantly, he’s succeeded (thrived, actually) in all of them.  Moreover, he’s mentored loads of people on how to do the same for themselves.  In short, he’s an expert on getting stuff done.

So, when Tim decided that he was going to go for a 500-pound deadlift in 2010, what did he do?

Made his goals very public.  Anybody who reads his blog knows about them – and that’s a lot of people.  It makes him accountable to not only himself, but all of them as well.  And, he’s allied himself with resources – from training partners to meathead deadlifters across the country (yours truly) – to help him get to where he needs to be.  He is like a fired up bride who just wants to lift some heavy stuff.

And, what did I do to ensure that I’d have my new product ready in time?  I told you all that it’d be launching on September 21 – and it absolutely, positively will, even if I have to stay up every night until 3AM before that launch to finish it and all the tag-along materials.

This is why my biggest recommendation to those starting a fitness program is to find a training partner and get into a solid training environment.  This isn’t just for offering hand-offs and spots when you’re benching, which, while nice, are the tip of the iceberg.  Rather, on those days when you’re tempted to skip an exercise session, it’ll make a big difference to know that there is someone waiting for you at the gym who will be disappointed if you don’t show up.  They’ll be there to push you when you need to be pushed, or to hold you back when you’re being stupid and pushing too hard.  And, when you start to get soft and try to skip out on training, they’ll be there to remind you of your goals – which you made very public.  You’ll do the same for them, too.

This is also one reason why I think you’re seeing semi-private training and bootcamps absolutely boom in the fitness industry while one-on-one personal training dies a slow death.  In the former two options, you don’t just get affordability; you also get increased camaraderie, accountability – and built-in training partners and motivation.

So, regardless of your goals, find a few people you can clue in on them – and get those people involved in the process.  Doing so just might keep you from becoming another bride who tapped out on the fitness wedding.

Lastly, while I’m speaking of deadlifts and the new product, I’d encourage you to enter your information below to subscribe to my FREE newsletter, and you’ll be among the first to know when this new resource is released – and you’ll (immediately) receive a detailed deadlift troubleshooting video.


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  • ronell

    EC,

    I love all of your blog posts, but this one really speaks volumes. I never let myself out of a planned training session, even if I must improvise to make it happen. But I have noticed that lack of accountability is the SINGLE biggest reason most of my acquaintances stop exercising.

  • Clement

    Hi Eric, I recently decided to invest in a good, solid strength programme. I’ve done stronglifts 5×5 and I feel that it can no longer take me much further. I’ve thus decided to transition into Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 or your maximum strength programme. I’m quite a harsh dieter, though. I’m talking PSMF-type harsh when I want to lean out. Would your programme help me achieve my goals of greater strength and size and also be done on such a huge deficit, or do you recommend I try 5/3/1 before your programme?

  • Thomas

    Big coincidence: this week TED posted a video with Derek Sivers coming from the exact opposite point of view and with some science to back it up. Highly recommended and its only 3 min long.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself.html

    Always great to read your posts.

  • Great post.

    Enjoy your training for your wedding. No heavy lifting required.

    Rick Kaselj of ExercisesForInjuries.com

  • Dr.Tim

    It may because of accountability.
    I just look at the amount of money committed to a great outcome.
    People just don’t want to commit that much money,mostly they want to do the training thing as cheaply as possible with no thought of the goal.

    Dr. Tim

  • Wow. 2 of my favorite people (EC & Tim Ferriss) in one post! If only you get Chris Guillebeau (http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/) in there, you’ll have all 3!

  • Great analogy Eric. You and Tim combining forces will be interesting to watch.
    @Thomas: I think EC’s point is still valid. The TED presentation is focused on motivation and why we often lose it when we share the goal because we feel like we’ve already achieved it. What Eric is talking about goes beyond telling our friends “I’m going to start a business” or “I’m going to get in shape”. It’s more about specificity and accountability.

  • Good post Eric, good luck on your wedding. I agree that the more public your goal the more likely it will be successful.

  • Sarah N

    Awww, Eric! I love the post today, and I feel honored to be part of the group that keeps the bride accountable 🙂

  • Thomas

    @Nick: Yeah pretty much. EC and Sivers arrive at the same conclusion. What Sivers brings up to attention is the psychological feeling of achievement just by putting it to words and the possibility of this being detrimental to your goals.

    In the end he sums it up with a recommendation:
    “If you have to tell someone about a plan say something on the lines of “I really want to run that marathon 6 months from now so I need to train 5 times a week and kick my ass if i dont”.

    All about accountability like you said.

  • Ferriss got his RKC certification fairly quickly and I know he loves the iron, with your help he should hit that 500 lbs but that’s still a pretty good amount of weight for not that big of a guy.

    Bret Contreras wrote a good article over at Wannebebig about how there’s a massive difference between 400 and 500 on the deadlift.
    http://www.wannabebig.com/training/deadlift-5-plates-like-a-champion/

  • Eric,
    great article.

    Wishing you all the best this last month before the wedding and hope you don’t stress too much (from experience).

    Really looking forward to your new product!

    Luka

  • Chris

    Eric you say to get a training partner but how do I do that at a commercial gym?!

  • kristin

    along accountability, i would also say the difference is passion for what you are doing. lets face it, women plan/picture their perfect wedding day their whole life. we hear people all the time say “i wish i could look like that, or lift like that” etc. If people put as much passion into their exercise program as women due into their wedding, i would bet their success rate would sky rocket!

    wishing you and your wife to be all the best on your wedding day!!

  • Aside from the remark about the Cubans, this is a fantastic post and one that should have commercial gyms shaking in their boots. I couldn’t agree more with Eric’s advice about enlisting a team to help you on your road to increased fitness…or to reach any goal in life for that matter. When I started Punk Rope, I said from the very beginning that the key to the success of the class would be building community and I still feel that way. As an aside, I read a ton of fitness blogs, but in my book Eric is numero uno.

  • Janila

    Great pictures, great post! I liked the analogy (wedding planning/training).

  • Clement,

    If you can sit tight for just ten more days, my new product is exactly what you’re looking for. It’ll be right up your alley.

  • Very interesting; thanks for sharing!

  • Tim, another excellent point.

  • Ha! I’ll have to see what we can do, Christopher.

  • Thanks, Sarah! Looking forward to seeing you soon!


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