Newsletter #119

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Last week, a Milwaukee man was arrested for shooting his lawn mower.

Yes, you heard that correctly. He took out a rifle, and shot his lawn mower because it wouldn’t start. According to the report above, he told police “’I can do that, it’s my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want.’”

While many of you are probably wondering if it is, in fact, ethical or legal to senselessly and brutally murder one’s lawn mower on private property, this story actually got me to thinking about a lot of the people I encounter who aren’t making progress in their fitness endeavors.

Think about it this way. This guy likely has lice, and there very well might be cockroaches living in his beard. He hasn’t showered since the Reagan administration. He was drunk on a Wednesday morning, and when his lawn mower wouldn’t start, he decided that the best course of action was to go Elmer Fudd on its a**.

Minus the lice, cockroaches, and drunkenness, you’d be surprised at how similar this is to a lot of folks who don’t reach their fitness goals.

They can’t do a chin-up, but continue to seek out the single-best biceps curl variation known to man.

They don’t warm-up, but want to know if an inversion table, prolotherapy, or hydrocleansing of their colon with a firehose will fix the <insert injury of your choice here> that keeps recurring every time they do a particular exercise.

They don’t eat the right stuff, but ask millions of questions about every new supplement that comes out on the market.

Basically, they’re studying for the wrong test – trying to complicate things that need to be simplified. This past year, at a Perform Better Summit, Marc Verstegen spoke to the importance of “simple things done savagely well.” He hit the nail on the head. And, no, he didn’t try to hit it with a sledgehammer or jackhammer; stop trying to shoot the lawn mower, folks.

While I’m a big believer in client/athlete education, I think that, to a degree, we really need to simplify things a lot more than we do. A lot of my writing is aimed at personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and other folks in this “biz,” but at the same time, I try to just give the meat and potatoes – not the entire recipe – to those readers of this newsletter who want the what/how/when, not the why. With that in mind, here are ten “off-the-top-of-my-head” tips for people who aren’t happy with their progress:

1. Stop shooting the lawn mower. Be honest with yourself if you aren’t making progress, and seek out someone “in the know” with whom you can discuss your problems and gain insight. I have an accountant, financial planner, lawyer, proofreader (for big projects), personal assistant, and web design guy. I refer out to a lot of hitting and pitching coaches as well as physical therapists and doctors. They have more time and expertise to devote to the people and issues I send their way.

2. If you don’t love what you are doing, change things up. Progress will always be best if you are having fun. Of course, if you are on an extreme fat loss diet, suck it up, you big pansy.

3. I’d estimate that 90% of the injuries I see can be related to poor technique either completely or for the most part. Move well before you try to move with external loading.

4. If you aren’t meticulously tracking progress, you’ll never know what works. Trust me: you really aren’t smart enough to go by feel! You’d be amazed at how many people really open their eyes when they actually do a diet log and realize what they consume (or don’t consume) on a daily basis.

5. A good training environment will top the best program in the world. Surround yourself with highly-motivated people – even if they have different goals – and get after it.

6. You can’t go hard all the time. I wrote an entire e-book on deloading, but if I had to give you the Cliff’s Notes version, it would be that you’d be wise to hold back for a week every 4-5 weeks. There are, of course, different strategies on how to hold back.

7. For some people, taking the guesswork out of things is a beautiful thing. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on Maximum Strength for this very reason. It covers everything these folks need to know to get to where they want to be: lifting, mobility, soft tissue work, energy systems training, and nutrition.

Precision Nutrition is great in this regard as well; John Berardi educates, but not to the point that he inundates you with information that would actually get in the way of you getting excited about making positive lifestyle changes. It’s kind of like the teacher who turns a history class into an adventure story; he gets your attention and educates you without you even knowing.

8. Consistency is the single-most important factor in long-term success. Those who “show up” the most always win out in the long haul; they get in more training, eat more quality foods and lose the least amount of sleep. The 90% rule applies not only to nutrition – but it also to your lifestyle.

9. Static stretching isn’t bad, in most cases.  I wish more people would do it – in spite of some people trying to put words in my mouth to the contrary.

10. There is no single-best training program out there.  And, you can’t believe everything you read.  So, you have to find a balance between trying everything and being devil’s advocate to the point of avoiding everything.  When you find credible sources of information, keep them on your radar.

Fall Schedule Update

I just confirmed that I’ll be attending Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp this September.  Ryan has sold these out each year he’s put them on and the reviews are always very positive.  I’ll be speaking on a guest panel or two and shooting the breeze with those in attendance.  It’s a good opportunity for the fitness professionals in the crowd to pick up on some business know-how, and – also a chance to network with some people who might be doing what you’d like to do.  You can get more information HERE.

EC on the Fitcast

I was a guest on the Fitcast a few weeks ago; you can download the interview for free HERE.

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All the Best, EC