I Shan’t Like To Disappoint You

Like anyone in a didactic line of work, I get a lot of questions.  About diet, training, routines, the contents of one’s cart at the grocery store–and I promise, I am only there to pick up an unhealthy Monster Energy Drink, not to judge…

If I had to guess, I’d say the most common question goes something like this: “Hey, (Trainer/Internet Celebrity X) just wrote that (building an aerobic base/icing an injury/eating one banana a week) isn’t good for us? What do you think?”

And I feel bad, because most of the time I just kind of shrug and say, essentially, “well, that’s their opinion.”  It’s not that I don’t have an opinion (you may perhaps have noticed that I have…several), it’s this (and we’ll call this Rule #1):

The little shit just really doesn’tmatter.

Someone says you shouldn’t squat or sprint or stretch at all?  Well, that’s big shit and that matters (and they’re wrong!); someone says you should squat twice a week instead of once or stretch after exercise rather than before?  Ehh…I just want you squatting and stretching.  I want you showing up three times a week and doing something hard and smart for an hour.  Do that, and everything will come out clean in the wash, I promise you.  And here’s why (and we’ll call this Corollary A to Rule #1):

The internal consistency of a training routine matters so much more than the little shit.

As Dan John is fond of saying: everything works, until it doesn’t.  P90X?  Awesome, until you break down.  Squatting every day?  Works for me, until I hit a plateau.  But here’s the rub–the program has to be a program.  Someone who tells you to do 40 minutes of metabolic conditioning a week and hey, let’s try out the Atkins diet?  Well that’s a nice giant shit sandwich–we know now that a ton of metcon requires at least a modicum of carbohydrate.  Similarly, if you’re training for a half-marathon and your trainer wants you to look at pushing your one-rep squat up because he just heard about this dude named Louie Simmons?  No good.

The stuff you do needs to make sense within the context of the stuff you do.  And it’s the big stuff that matters the most.  These notions may seem axiomatic but I see so many people getting tripped up by add-ons and teeny tiny considerations when what we do really is simple.  Get in, hit the numbers on the board (they are there for a reason), work hard, and dig this quote from Mark Cavendish: “it takes balls to rest (when you’re supposed to.)”

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