Sunday, November 23, 2008

Consistency, Simplicity, Elegance

I've been trying to maintain the status quo for so long that I've given up the idea of making new ground, because I'm always trying to continue to hold the ground that I've established. I end up wasting a lot of energy, because I work out hard and then I lose ground, all in a period of one or a few weeks.

So that's the challenge: consistency. I know I can do anything with persistence and consistency. But that's the hard part, not getting motivated in the first place, per se, but staying motivated, on the days that aren't going as well as I'd hoped. And when things get busy, putting in a workout just to put one in. That's the key. Don't get frustrated, take your time, stay consistent. It seems like I spent a lot of my twenties learning those lessons as they apply to writing and to exercise, and to work; so now it's time to apply those lessons to both staying consistent with exercise, with diet, and with working out. I don't want to make this too complicated, because it doesn't need to be. And that's okay. Things don't have to be complicated to work.

Take, as just one of many examples: the super squats program. Twenty reps of the squat, as hard as giving birth, are the basis of the program. The program also calls for dumbbell pullovers, to build the lats and ostensibly to "expand the chest". You want to know why this program works? Because it takes the biggest muscular structures in the body and forces them to do tons of work. You then stuff yourself with an excess amount of calories, focused on milk, which is a good,cheap source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and "miraculously" you grow. It ain't exactly rocket science, and I'm convinced that it doesn't have to be.

As Bruce Lee said, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, add what is specifically your own." (I've heard this quote attributed to Mao Zedong, minus the "add what is specifically your own" clause, so I guess Bruce took that last bit seriously.) In every case, stripping out the inessentials: "It's not daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away the inessentials." to quote Bruce again. But stripping out the inessential only gets you half the way there. If you strip your program down to squats, pullovers, and milk, you haven't gotten anywhere if you squat with the bar, skip the pullovers, and drink a pint of milk: the missing piece is kidney-shitting intensity. So what is specifically your own? That piece is hard fucking work.

So this year, I don't think that it's going to be so much a year about making up complex splits and rationales. It's going to be about figuring out what works, making it as simple as possible, and then pushing myself to the limit.