Monday, April 30, 2012

Defining Your Next Step: A Process-Centered Approach To Life & Lifting

Russian: My dream is to give up drinking.
American: Well, why don't you just quit, today?
Russian: What, and live without a dream?
-From Pavel Tsatsouline, speaking at the Easy Strength Secrets Teleseminar

I enjoy reading self-help books and, once in a great while, they do actually inspire me to do something differently. Last year, in the hopes of ending procrastination and being wildly productive, I read a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. One thing stuck with me and I have gotten markedly better at creating and maintaining inertia with my various goals and duties. The one lesson that stuck was the lesson of "The Next Step".

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

In the process of regaining control of your life and moving in the right direction toward finishing all the things you want to accomplish, a critical early step is to make a list of all the projects you wish to complete. Then, you must clearly define the very next step towards completing those projects. The very next step may be as simple as taking out the trash (if your goal is to clean up the house) or going for a 30 minute walk (if your goal is to get in shape).

Defining the "next step" is ingenious for two reasons; it stops you from overwhelming yourself from the git-go, and it prevents you from overcommitting to a path that may or may not (continue to) be appropriate for your goals. While your goal may be complex, often the very next thing that needs to be done is quite simple.

Notice that this is different (though not mutually exclusive) from the backward-planning that is so common today. Backward-planning works fine as long as everything is mapped out correctly and nothing unexpected occurs, but we usually experience at least a few bumps and switchbacks along the way. A sharp athlete or coach can make adjustments along the way, but stubborn ones might keep slogging away and end up performing flat when it counts or, even worse, get injured.

By narrowing focus to the very next thing you need to do to move forward, you are no longer distracted or discouraged by the long, arduous road ahead. When you finish that single step, you will be able to feel a sense of accomplishment AND you will be able to re-focus your efforts on the next most appropriate step.

Personal Examples with The Next Step (with the amount of time they will take to finish):
*Regularly Update My Blog -- finish and publish post about "The Next Step" (30 minutes)
*Rebuild Squat Mobility -- stretch and foam rolling (10 minutes)
*Rebuild Pressing Strength -- military press (40 minutes)
*Quality Time with Son -- finish reading "The Son of Neptune" to my son (30 minutes)
*Quality Time with Wife -- finish movie (30 minutes)
*Improve Sleep -- lights out by 11:30pm
*Hand Health/Strength -- extensor work (5 minutes)
*Catch Up on Grading Student Work -- grade quizzes and record scores (30 minutes)
*Prepare for Summer Trip -- buy souvenirs for friends, order (30 minutes)

Later, I will take a moment at the end of the day (or at the end of the week) to revisit goals and the re-establish the next "next step(s)". Over time, those projects that I never seem to find time to address will be reassessed and likely put on the back-burner for a while. Existing goals may be more clearly defined or modified as needed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Caine's Arcade

We are all born creative. We all want to belong. We all want to share. Life (and sometimes a well-intentioned mentor or parent) tends to beat that out of us. The wildly successful ones are often those that can maintain the beginner's mind. Thank you to Seth Godin for posting this on his blog at Seth's Blog (Lessons From Caine's Arcade)

Monday, April 23, 2012


The body gives us a lot of feedback regarding our training, whether we decide to pay attention or not. I'm not saying we can or should be attentive to all these indicators all the time, but it's good to have an awareness reminder once in a while. Most of these signs show up well before we push ourselves into injury.
*Emotional State
*Range of Motion

Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Valuable Strength Lessons From OVER THE TOP

"Over The Top" is Sylvester Stallone at his 1980s best. No, "Over The Top" does not have the gore of "Cobra", the flashbacks of "First Blood", or the beach scene of "Rocky III". What "Over The Top" DOES have is a truck driving protagonist. This puts "Over The Top" in good company with other 80s classics such as "Big Trouble In Little China" and "Maximum Overdrive". Not only is the protagonist a truck driver, but he is also a single dad... named LINCOLN HAWK. Anyone with a name like HAWK is destined for greatness!

Depending on your point of view, one of the Rocky franchise's best or worst moments...

Lincoln Hawk can teach us all a lot about life and training. Here are three lessons for Squat Rx readers:

#1) YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO "TURN IT ON" WHEN YOU NEED TO (and turn it off when you don't)

This man is FOCUSED!
Lincoln Hawk, when he turns that ball cap around on his head and flips on the go-switch, becomes an arm-wrestling machine. The rest of the time, he talks and acts like he's taken one too many downers. The best athletes and most successful people in the world know how and when to turn on the turbo boost, and when to cool the engine. It's about balance and saving your best performances for when it counts.


If Lincoln Hawk can train in his semi while he driving down the open highway, you can find time to improve yourself. Don't have a squat rack? Then, use what you have - bear-hugging and squatting and carrying a 70lb sleeve of sand (that can be picked up a hardware store for a couple of dollars) can be a helluva workout! It's doesn't take much.


I can't stand it when I hear people whine about poor music affecting their strength performance at a gym or meet, but a soundtrack with artists like Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Cheap Trick, and FRANK STALLONE cannot be beaten for a pre-workout or pre-meet adrenaline rush. Music is a wonderful thing.

All GIFs from the amazing website: 
I-Mockery Movie Review: Over The Top