Do you know how to sweep the floor? Wisdom is doing it.
For those of you who have read the Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Milman or seen the film will probably understand this point already. I'm going to write about the philosy of mindfulness and how it applies to life and lifting at a later date but for now I want to touch on wisdom.
Gandalf is wisdom in its most badass form.
Let's take two lifters, let's call them Bert and Ernie.
Bert is in his twenties. He's a personal trainer. He has a degree in exercise science which he studied for three years to get. He's a certified kettle bell trainer. He's done a weekend course on crossfit which cost him £1000. He reads t nation everyday. He owns an entire libiry of lifting books. When he's not reading a book he's surfing online lifting sites and forums about lifting. He has over a thousand posts on one lifting board. The guy can talk training for hours with his friends. He can argue the benefits of rest pause training combined with triple drop sets over high intensity training to failure and can recite several studies to prove his point. He has a GNC gold card and can't wait to see what the new post-work supp he just bought will do for his training. He heard its the one Ronnie Coleman uses. What's Berts problem? He weighs all of 140lbs and can't bench 225lbs. Also he doesn't seem to have any clients.
Ernie is 50 years old. He's a builder by trade and works long hours in a physically demanding job. He's been lifting weights since he was Berts age and was British Powerlifting champion in his thirties. He weighs a lean 200lbs and his last workout consisted of him dead lifting 5 reps with 500lbs. He hits the gym 3 times week for around an hour and a half. Its all he has time for at the moment because he has to help babysit his new born granddaughter. He enjoys his training, it gives him a chance to de-stress and put away the troubles of life. He doesn't worry about dis diet much. He's always been a steak and potatoes kind of guy. He's a quiet sort of person. He doesn't talk much when he's in the gym. Just a polite "hello" to the gym owner and an occasional "How much longer are you going to be with the squat rack."
What's the difference between our two lifters? Bert is clearly very Knowledgeable about training but Ernie is wise.
Knowledge is power. But it is only powerful if it leads you towards action.
Knowledge without action is nothing.
Knowledge is acquired through studying. Wisdom is acquired through action and experience.
Bert knows everything there is to know about lifting because he has read about it. Ernie has been training hard and consistantly for 30 years. He knows what works for him and what's bullshit. It took him a fair bit of trial and error but he ended up finding his own style of training which worked great for him when he was a powerlifting champion and is still serving him well in his fifties.
Which lifter would you rather have coaching you?
Bert like so many lifters today suffers from paralysis by analysis. He simply knows too much that he can't decide on any path for any length of time. He is constantly program hoping each time he reads about a new latest and greatest program. He is inconsistent with his training because of this and as a result struggles to make progress. He is an armchair expert. He knows everything but has never got off the chair to do it.
Ernie goes to the gym gets his stuff done then leaves. He doesn't dwell on it every waking moment and he couldn't tell you any scientific studies or Russian super programs. But he knows how to get strong.
Now I am not saying that you shouldn't learn about lifting. Certainly a little knowledge can go a long way And I appreciate you reading this blog. but at some point you need to put what you have learned into to action. All the reading in the world won't build any strength or muscle. The truth is most sensible lifting programs can produce great results if you are consistent and work hard at them.
Lift more weight or lift the same weight for more reps. That's essentially all there is to it.
Find a program you like and stick to it! At least 3 months if not 6. At that point you know whether its working or not and what the problem is. Don't judge a program because you aren't world champion after 2 weeks. If the program is not working is it because it is inhertantly flawed or is it because you have not been working hard and consistanly at it? look at my beginner program I posted about recently. It invovles 3 different phases leading you up to 6 months of lifting. Repeat this again and there is a full year of sensible training which has taken you from beginner to intermediate. If you stick to it and don't start doing Westside this, and bodybuilding that, you will make progress. You will be much stronger than you were before.
Bert's problem is partly down to the internet. There is so much information out there which is only a click away. Its easy to get sucked in and keep scrolling for hours and hours. After a while you realise you've spent a massive amount of time but haven't actually gotten any stronger. I write about this because I have been guilty of it myself. Us weightlifters can certainly be obsessive people. Its easy for your whole life to revolve around lifting. Thinking about our next gym session, our next big PB, our next meal, whether we should try that new exercise, arguing the why's and wherefores of every supplement on a forum etc. Because lifting is constantly on your mind we end up spending an awful lot of time when we are not in the gym just reading about lifting or watching vids on youtube about it. We end up telling everyone on Facebook about our amazing workouts and I have even had people on my feed post up pictures of each of their meals through the day. I mean as if anyone gives a shit that you ate chicken and broccoli!
I know this seems like an impossible task. I know it would be easier to tie an Olympic bar into a knot but what you need to do is to stop spending so much time on the internet. Stop reading message boards so much. (Most of them suck anyway). Stop reading about the newest programs and stop changing things just because you read an article about something. Your muscles will not shrink because you didn't check out T Nations daily article. Now I'm not telling you to live in a cave but just to have a life. There really is more to life than obsessing over training. Just think what you could you do right this second to move closer to your goals? How about doing a small conditioning session? some foam rolling? Stretching? Preparing some meals for the week? These are small but productive things you could do right now. All of them are training related and all involved doing something. How did spending 3 hours on internet lifting boards move you closer to your goals? It didn't. Now my point is not that you should never read another book or lifting site again. I'd love you to continue to read my blog. But just don't spend so much time in the virtual lifting world. Spend it in the real world. Let's get real here. Gym training and food prep doesn't actually take that much time. So find other productive things you can do. Take up a new hobby, spend time with your family or even just try to fit in more of the little training things like conditioning or foam rolling.
To be strong to be useful is about developing a body that is useful in life whether to yourself or others. Why not find some useful things to do with it. Travel, play sports, hike a mountain, swim a lake, teach, help, compete, fight, fuck, lift, nurture, survive. You get the idea, progression through action.
So to summarise
-Knowledge is theory
-Wisdom is action
-Choose a program and stick to it for a long period of time
-Train hard and be consistent
-Learn what works for you
-Stop spending so much time on the internet and reading about lifting
-Use your time productively. Think what can I do right now to move closer to my goals.
-Enjoy and experience life.
-Be strong and useful and wise.
Judging by The Thinker's physique he's clearly been putting his thoughts into action