Thursday, October 23, 2008

Practical Programming - Ends & Means

War is a balance of ends and means: a general might have the best plan to achieve a certain end, but unless he has the means to accomplish it, his plan is worthless. Wise generals through the ages, then, have learned to begin by examining the means they have at hand and then to develop their strategy out of those tools. …use the means at your disposal. Then, out of that process, let your plans and goals blossom. Not only will your strategies be more realistic, they will be more inventive and forceful. Dreaming first of what you want and then trying to find the means to reach it is a recipe for exhaustion, waste, and defeat.

- The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Green

Do you have training "goals"? Of course you do. I mean, who doesn't? No meaningful training can occur without having some objective, measurable, quantifiable goals, right? Well, yes and no. Having a good plan designed with the end in mind is almost always going to be better than just "winging it". Without one, most of us will either push too hard for too long, or we'll wimp out just when things are starting to get productive. Goals are valuable not because they are an end-point, but because they are useful in the planning, in prioritizing our training. Any kind of practical goal-setting is going to start with an assessment of the means by which you will accomplish the goals you set. Creating a good training plan requires, at the very least, taking inventory of the resources available to you.

Think about it. If your goal is to squat 800 pounds but you don't have access to a squat rack, it might be time to reevaluate a bit. Not having access to a squat rack doesn't mean you can't train your legs at all, but it does limit your options A LOT if you are hoping to be a competitive powerlifter.

Make a list of your available "training means" - the tools and resources available to you in your gym, garage, backyard, or basement. Your training means may be things like rocks, free weights, machines, kettlebells, towels, sandbags, plyo boxes, and rope and a trailer hitch. See what you can accomplish with these tools rather than whining about how you can't do Westside because you don't own a reverse-hyper bench. Sometimes it takes a little ingenuity, but you'd be surprised at what you can accomplish with fewer tools. Sometimes less really can be more.

Related Articles:
What You Know Vs. What You Do by Dan John

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