Nate Green: Optimal Experience

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Last week, I promised that another big announcement would come in this newsletter, and I’m not going to go back on my word.  We officially confirmed the speaking lineup and location for what I believe will be a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime event: The Los Angeles Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar.  This amazing event will take place on September 16-17 and feature panel of speakers with expertise in a variety of areas:

  • Dr. John Berardi
  • Alwyn Cosgrove
  • Dan John
  • Eric Cressey
  • Mike Robertson
  • Julia Ladewski

Jesse Burdick and Dr. Ryan Smith will also be on-hand to perform complimentary ART all weekend and help out with a few presentations.  Likewise, there will be plenty of bright writers, coaches, and trainers (not to mention some experienced lifters) from the fitness industry in attendance, so networking opportunities will abound.  I’ll have more information and a link to the official seminar homepage in next week’s newsletter; for now, you can follow along here.

More Outstanding Feedback on The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

“Your Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual is jam-packed with tons of must-have information for the coach and the athlete!  Not only do you point out the problems in the majority of off-season training programs, but you have thoroughly posed solutions that have been proven in the trenches.  Not only are these proven in the trenches, but they are also very easy to follow, and I respect the fact that with all your knowledge, you did NOT try to impress the reader with overcomplicated methods and terminology.  This is a user-friendly manual that I’ll be re-reading frequently.  This manual must be in the hands of all coaches who are looking for effective ways to truly improve their team’s athletic capabilities! Bottom line, this is a Must-Read!”

Zach Even-Esh

“I received my copy of “The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual” a couple of days ago and have been holding off writing anything about it until I’d absorbed as much as the information as I could.

“It’s an extremely comprehensive and easily understood text. It guides you through the off-season step-by-step with tests and subsequent responses to your conditioning/ability and desired sport.  The sample routines look very interesting and I look forward to making my own template to follow within the next couple of weeks.

“Even if you’re not competing in a sport (as is the case with me), I’d recommend this manual. If you simply want to become more functional and a better all-around athlete (bigger, stronger, faster, etc.), then this is an interesting, enjoyable, and thorough route to take.

“Thanks Eric!”

Ed Chapman

Great Britain

Check it out for yourself now!

New Articles!

I had two articles published last week; be sure to check them out when you get a chance:

Shoulder Savers: Part III

Hanging with Eric Cressey, an interview by Maki Riddington

Contributor’s Corner: Nate Green

Most of you probably aren’t familiar with Nate Green, but don’t forget the name; he’s one of the true rising stars in this industry.  Keep an eye out for great things from him in the future; here’s a sneak peak.

Let it Flow: A Quick Lesson in Optimal Experience

By: Nate Green

Psychology has always fascinated me. At the deepest level, I figure if you can understand how people think—what motivates, aggravates, and incapacitates their total progress, whether in the gym, the kitchen, on the field, or in any faculty of life, really—it’s easier and more exciting to coach them while having a significantly more powerful impact on their overall performance.

So, like EC and his somewhat scary, lustful quest for knowledge obtained from training, coaching, and business books, I’m pretty much a psychology whore—except I’m a much higher grade prostitute than Eric “dirty boy” Cressey – but don’t tell him that!

It’s with this in mind that I would like to introduce an interesting “smack-your-forehead-obvious-but-rarely-elaborated” concept to you: the process of flow.  Coined by renowned psychologist, Mike Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”), flow describes a state in which one is so completely engaged with a favorable, enjoyable task that time seems to stop.

Now, while that may sound all well and good, Csikszentmihalyi is careful to differentiate between pleasures and enjoyments as they pertain to flow.  While pleasures are seen more as consumption oriented activities that satisfy biological needs—bodily pleasures such as delectable tastes, soothing sounds, orgasms, and the like—enjoyments (or gratifications) are categorized as building psychological capital. Simply put, enjoyments, while they may not bring about intense bodily pleasures at the moment, cause us to invest in absorption and a feel a greater sense of accomplishment in retrospect.

Here are the components of flow:

  • The task is challenging and require skill
  • We concentrate
  • There are clear goals
  • We get immediate feedback
  • We have a deep involvement
  • There is a sense of control
  • Time stops

As Dr. Martin Seligman points out in his book Authentic Happiness, “…flow is a frequent experience for some, but this state visits many others rarely if at all.”  I believe that those of us into this whole “fitness thing” experience flow on a much more regular basis than the average individual.  Whether we’re gasping for air after our last set of squats, taking our third lap around the track, or sinking into a hot, Epsom salt bath, I think it’s safe to say that fitness enthusiasts, whether athletes or weekend warriors, are constantly engaged in a sort of flow continuum.

Take a look back up to the list of components.  Which ones describe the way you feel while in the gym or playing your sport?  All of them?  Good.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine not being dedicated to lifestyle that brings about such high ‘psychological capital’.

Seligman writes, “While we moderns have lost the distinction between the pleasures and gratifications, the golden age Athenians were keen on it.  For Aristotle, distinct from bodily pleasures (eudaimonia) is akin to grace in dancing.  Grace is not an entity that accompanies the dance or comes at the end of the dance; it is part and parcel of a dance well done.”

That’s good stuff.

However, while both Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi separate pleasure from flow, I beg to differ slightly.  While they’re both incredibly intelligent and renowned psychologists, I have reason to suspect that their physical conditioning may not be quite up to par with their “mental muscle.”

Now, if you have Dr. John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition program (which you should), you know all too well that your meals can be both pleasurable (with the right spices and food combinations) and gratifying (with the right macronutrient balance and other healthy effects).  And, if you’ve ever been under hundreds of pounds of iron, you know that the cold bar against your hands just feels right, the way it bends just looks cool, the inhalation of chalk dust just smells, well, chalky. But along with those simple pleasures come the other enjoyable consequences (consequences can be defined as either negative or positive) associated with weight training: better body composition, proper and realistic goal setting, and increased psychological capital and motivation to just set the bar higher.

If you get a “rush” or a “high” from training, good for you; now you know that you’re also building a strong foundation of good habits, strength in every respect, and a strong base upon which you can build.  When the bar hits the ground, inhale deeply and let the whole experience flow right through you.

Just don’t forget to exhale.

About the Author

Nate Green is a member of the Advisory Team for Maximum Fitness magazine, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and is a NFPT certified trainer who works with clients in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana.  He is currently reading everything on which he can get his hands, constantly pestering industry professionals for advice, and preparing to make a splash in the fitness realm. You can contact Nate at

I’m headed to New York City this weekend for our long-awaited Building the Efficient Athlete seminar, but I’ll be back next Tuesday with more fresh material for you.  Have a great week!