Monthly Archives: September 2018

Ze-Pump

Power & Pump, for the win!
 
I’m not personally one for seeking a pump, it’s too much effort for very little reward in the realms of strength.
 
That being said, here is a nice little set/rep protocol you can follow to really get that blood flowing that will also help stimulate your body with a novel amount of stress to maintain and perhaps even increase your strength.
 
Here is what to do.
 
– Pick on lift you wish to get a good pump on
– Do one or two warm up sets of that lift
– Progressively RAMP these reps 5-3-2*
– Take 80% of the 5 rep
– With the 80% do 4-6 reps
– Aim for 15-25 sets (build to this over serval sessions)
– 30-60 seconds rest only, if you rest longer then you stop
– Achieve pump
 
Looks easy on paper, it’s not, however it is rather good fun.
 
*Now you could look to use the 3 or 2 rep to take a % from, however if you did then I’d suggest 70% of the 3rep and 60% of the 2rep.
 
*The overall progression idea is that your focus will be on the 5-3-2 and trying to either make your double much smoother or adding some form of weigh tot those numbers over let us say a 6 week period (you can go for longer, however most people get bored after a 6 week block).
 
You can decide to follow a classic bro-split style of training, or maybe look to hit each movement every 3-5 days, perhaps it will end up being that you do 2 lifts per session using the above (one whole body lift and one half body lift, for example Squat & Pull Up)
 
Looking to hit about 45-60min is a good target each session as this will still allow for a fairly normal life to happen.
 
Give it a go and let me know how you get on.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How you can use the internet to create a damn good year of training for FREE!

Do you need to periodise your training if you’re not an athlete?
 
No, absolutely not.
 
However…..
 
It is a time proven way of producing results, therefore it is worth considering.
 
Morning All,
 
Learning how to periodise can be a prolific ball ache, seriously, there are a lot of variable to take in to account, thus the popularity of short 12 week transformations and cookie cutter training protocols.
 
Some will say the short protocols (12 weeks or less) are of no use, and while they are not entirely wrong as these styles of program are of linear in progressions which will leave a strong or conditioned person dead on their feet, they have uses for the weaker among the species.
 
You’ll also be pleased to know that there is a way you can use these types of training routines to your advantage and create a periodisation hybrid, here is an example:
 
Months 1-3 – Pavel’s PTTP & GTG on two lifts
Months 4-6 – TSC Protocol & Squat Everyday
Months 7-9 – CrossFit
Months 10-12 – Dan John’s Armour Building/Mass Made Simple Program
 
Boom, 12 months of training.
 
There is logic to them.
 
Months 1-3 – Strength Building, Movement Maintenance
Months 4-6 – Strength Realisation, Movement Maintenance
Months 7-9 – GPP & Summer Shredzzz
Months 10-12 – Hypertrophy/Strength Building
 
You will need appropriate nutrition in each 3 month block, however upon starting a new one the volume/intensity will drop allowing a natural deload.
 
The different focus on each training block is in line with the 4 seasons, this is a great way to train and makes applying the cookie cutter and free online training programs a pinch to fit in to a year.
 
So there you have it, how you can use all the free information on the internet to create a periodised training program of sorts to allow you to get the results you desire.
 
If this is too much hassle then you have only two other choices:
 
1 – Just faff about like many others do
2 – Hire a trainer/coach
 
Give it some thought.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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To look good all year or not to look good, that is the question.

Looking good all year round is not something everyone wants to achieve.
 
However if that is your goal then here are my top 6 tips for doing it.
 
1 – Accept that it’s a lifestyle
2 – Train for strength
3 – Eat for health
4 – Live for enjoyment and don’t be neurotic
5 – Understand there will be peaks & troff’s in your look
6 – Establish what ‘looking good’ means to you
 
The above are quite vague, so I will expand on them 🙂
 
1 – The hard part for many is accepting that holding a certain aesthetic all year will involve some potential changes to their life and may even mean there are certain things that might not be worth their while doing due to their self imposed mental repercussions (see points 4/5/6).
 
2 – Training for strength is paramount in maintaining youth, especially in your posterior chain. This means you will spend more time training the following:
 
– Deadlifts
– Pulls
– Carries
– Cleans/Snatches (barbell or variations)
– Pressing Overhead
– Essentially train movements/movement patterns, not muscles
 
Mirror muscles are secondary in your training, avoid majoring in the minors and you’ll carve a body that Michelangelo would be proud of.
 
3 – This one shouldn’t really take much explaining so I will be brief.
 
– High quality meats
– High quality veggies
– Drink plenty of water
– A good multivitamin supplement can be useful
 
Essentially don’t eat like a child – sweets, cakes, crisps, snack foods etc.
 
4 – You may feel that point number three means you will never again be able to enjoy a food that you just want, this is a false logic, of course you can enjoy the food, you can even go overboard on it from time to time just don’t be too hard on yourself when that happens.
 
We are a curious animal that will always want more of what we can’t have or a told we are not to have, thus there is nothing you can’t eat, drink or do, it’s your choice, just accept that there will be some potential consequence, then get over it and don’t stress.
 
5 – Relating to point four & three, you will have times where you are super inclined to eat all the meat, veg and truing consistently (the stars align and life is good), as a result you look, feel and perform amazingly, understanding that this won’t last if as mentioned in point four you take your foot of the gas pedal and just enjoy life, be that going out for birthdays, having a hilly or wedding etc, it will happen and then a troff will occur.
 
This is okay you know, the chicness are you will still look, feel and perform well, the secret is not to panic and feel yourself a failure for ‘losing’ all your hard earned results, that is just rubbish and very negative to think, you had epic focus, then you had epic fun, it’s a state of flow so just let it happen and learn to enjoy the good times and buckle down when it’s needed.
 
Simple.
 
6 – This last one is the hard part, what does looking good mean to you?
 
If that is being lean, highly muscled, super strong and essentially a movie star or stage ready then you will need to accept that your good times will be perhaps of a limited amount each year (the all out parties we mentioned above).
 
Say that looking good to you is just being confident enough to have sex with the lights on, well you may have more leeway and more frivolous times in the year, this is not a dogmatic view of things, it’s just common sense.
 
Think of the classic car example.
 
If you own a Ferrari you can drive it everyday, however it will take a lot of maintenance and it might be worth it to you, however it’s a lot of time, effort and attention that will be required as opposed to having perhaps an Audi A4 that can be driven daily and kept in good nick with a lot less effort. It’s still a solid car that will be admired, however it’s no Ferrari, and that’s okay because it doesn’t need to be if it’s not what you want.
 
This example is the same for your body, the ‘better’ you want to look the more effort and attention to detail you need to put in, simple.
 
Does that make sense?
 
All of the above are simple points that if you really take the time to think over will provide you will some clarity as to what you really desire and what it will take to sustain it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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You Don’t Care, or Do You?

Are you worried what other people think?
 
You should be.
 
….
 
Not what you were expecting huh?
 
There is a point to this, all you need it a little faith.
 
We’re often told now that we shouldn’t care what other think, what hey say and so on, yet that is perhaps not the best attitude to have because it starts you off down the path of Apathy, or at best Existential Nihilism.
 
If we are to look at our history we will find it is one of struggle. A struggle for power, acceptance and a place among the tribe, be that at the top or bottom is up for debate however being apart of the accepted is what many want to a degree.
 
There is nothing wrong with this, despite what we are taught today.
 
We’re social creatures.
 
If belong didn’t matter then people wouldn’t be so quick to align themselves with a ideal, philosophy or thought, even if they claim they don’t, they do. Just look around and you’ll see it.
 
Being accepted is one of the highest priorities to our species and I will tell you why, it’s key to survival, or at least it was once upon a time.
 
If you think logically from our or perhaps even your earliest days you/we needed the help of others (childhood to adolescence), this was total dependance, this is accepted as truth, for now.
 
After this you started to become independent, you/we fend for ourselves entirely self sustaining until we realise that it’s not really too sustainable (for most), we seek out others (we can call this looking for a job in this time), and while we still aim to be ‘individual’ for a short time and claim not to need the group mentality, you/we secretly do, our deepest voice yearns for it, for belonging.
 
Give it some years and we find a place, perhaps begrudgingly, all the while claiming we’re still an individual who doesn’t care what others think and that we don’t need the group, ah the naivety of youth, I miss it so.
 
More time goes by and eventually we realise through maturity that we do need the group, well, most of us.
 
There are of course those rare exceptions who do go it alone and end up forming their own tribe, however for most that is not the case.
 
Where was I going with this?
 
Oh yea, why you should care what people think, well its because it matters even if you admit it or not, you do care because you’re human and that’s what we do.
 
You may also do well to realise that people will only think a certain way or see you in a particular light based on what you show them.
 
We are given far too much credit for our mental ability to deconstruct people, in truth all we can know about a person is what they show us through their actions, their choices, how they live and how they treat others.
 
Want to be held in a high regard?
 
Be kind, be helpful, be useful to others, be strong enough to hold your ground and have your own beliefs/views/value yet not too stubborn that you’re not willing to change them and allow growth over time when new evidence is presented to you.
 
Stay curious, as questions, aim to become better than you are now because despite what many say, no one is perfect as they are. We all have room for growth, that is what makes life worth anything, so to say we’re perfect as we are is to invite the void as that’s the only place perfection has a place.
 
If you care what other people think in a sense of pragmatism, of learning and not take it personally you’ll find you’re welcome in many a group, perhaps even as their leader.
 
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be accepted or liked, it’s a survival mechanism after all and one that has served us very well for a Millennium and more.
 
Final thought, Don’t printed to be the person you want others to think you are, actually be the person you want others to think you are, you’ll be surprised how it changes your life for the better.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Badge of Honour

Do you collect fitness badges of honour?

Many people do, they come in the form of being the one to work the hardest in class, staying in the gym the longest, running further than the person next to you on the treadmill and many other arbitrary things that do nothing to help you progress.

Picture this, you may have done it.

You go in to the gym, walk to a treadmill, across the gym you see someone else stepping on one directly opposite at the same time and in that moment your mind is made up, challenge accepted.

Both of you proceed to start running.

You look at their cadence trying to gauge if they’re going faster than you, if they are you will set yours just above theirs and come hell or high water you will not be getting of the treadmill first, even if it kills you.

The focus has taken over, you’re in the zone.

Perhaps you beat them easily and thus feel quite accomplished with yourself, maybe they crank up the speed and leave you in the dust, or by some miracle you both stop at the same time, who knows what will happen, so long as you can claim your badge, it doesn’t matter.

We touched on the mentality of ‘more is not better, it’s just more’ yesterday, it is something I truly wish for you to let go of because for the majority (which is where you fall if you’re reading this), it’s not worth it.

Each one of us wants to make god progress, more so we want to feel accomplished in something, to collect a trophy, even if only in our own mind.

Being the complex creatures we are it is common for us to seek a reward as recompense for all that we suffer.

We may even share the treadmill story with some friends or family members in the hope of awe and adulation from them, which we may get at the start, however it’s of a false variety because they don’t really care, after all, would you if the roles were reversed?

There is too much put on other people to fulfil our emotional needs, yes that is what badges of honour are when you delve in to them.

Why do I say this?

Simple, you will have someone you want to tell about your achievement, you want their praise, their approval, their emotional scraps and gentle nod that you’re worthy.

I get it, we all want that, however before obtaining that from other people can mean anything of substance we must first be able to self praise, to recognise that more often than not the only person who really cares is us.

Well, maybe your mum too, she’d always be proud, as such I suggest you go buy her flowers right this instant.

So back to the badges of honour, why do you collect them?

Is it for yourself or for someone else, sit and think about your answer because reflection is a key element in growth.

Now relate the badges (old, current and yet to collect) and how they will help you work towards your goal, do you have faith in achieving your goal and enough drive and self efficacy to get it or are you waiting for permission?

I know you will achieve your goal when you really want it, you’ve got everything it takes to do so, multiple badges or not, you will do it eventually.

Give the above some thought, go, reflect and have a productive day.

Enjoy,
Ross

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One sign your training might not be as ‘hard core’ as you think it is.

Morning All,
 
When it comes to training mindset the thought of ‘harder is better’ is a common one and while no one is saying that hard graft doesn’t get results, what people think it is and what it actually is are two different things.
 
The easy sign that you’re not applying the required hard graft in the correct way is a simple one – the result you have.
 
These can be body composition related, strength/performance biased, emotional and many other things, however for the sake of the classic fitness goal of ‘lose weight and tone up’ we shall go with your body composition – how you look.
 
A simpel question to ascertain if you’re putting in the desired/required hard work:
 
How do you feel you look?
 
Good, bad, indifferent or somewhere in between, essentially it comes down to how you perceive yourself and if you have achieved what you set out to.
 
A lot of people will claim that ‘looking good’ is subjective and I agree with them, it is.
 
So if you feel your’e working as hard as you possibly can and yet still haven’t achieved your goal, them perhaps it might be time to rethink what you are doing.
 
Most will go down the route of “I must train even harder.” and while that might be what is needed, I will tell you from experience that for the average person 10/10 times it’s not and what is really required is training smarter/productively.
 
The more is better, harder is key philosophy comes from athletes and people at the highest level.
 
Each persona t the top talks of their hard work and dedication, sacrifice and commitment, which is all true, however the sheer amount they are doing now has taken then decades to build up to, not months like many of you weekend warriors have been training.
 
While everyone enjoys a good hard session, you’d want perhaps one of those a week, two medium effort sessions and a light session, if you trained 4 days a week that is.
 
Essentially the older thought process of a Hard-Medium-Easy training rotation (or fatigue accumulation and deloading) is a wise one to adopt.
 
Too often people are in a rush, seeking that quick fix, that instant result, training doesn’t work like that, life doesn’t work like that and this is something you ned to accept.
 
Your training should have a purpose, does it?
 
I have another question for you, what is it about working hard, leaving the gym dead that resonates with you?
 
Why do you feel this is what you need to do?
 
It would be great to have a small insight in to why you think as you do because over the years I’ve learnt that more isn;t ever really better, it’s just more.
 
Train with purpose, train to become better, not just to become tired.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Getting in our own heads.

Psychology truly is fascinating.

It’s especially interesting to give it some thought while sat pretentiously drinking coffee, because that’s the sign of true intellect, apparently 😂

Take 5 minutes and listen to what people are talking about around you, if possible try to find the ones who are discussing their stress and reaction to said stress.

What habits do they give in to?
Are there any childish reactions?
Is their continued suffering really worth that extra slice of cake?

It’s not uncommon that people are emotional eaters.

Even when you try to be helpful and provide guidance that will steer them in the direction health & longevity, they will still have a retort akin to “Oh, well everything in moderation.”.

No, just no.

Did you know that some people can’t do moderation, and that there are others who really need to stop putting their hand int he cookie jar because of declining health.

These mindsets of “You deserve a treat, you’ve been good.” are drummed in to us as children.

Yep, parents use sweet and certain foods as punishment, reward, basically tools to control a child’s behaviour and this is where many develop a warped mindset with food as it becomes their comfort, their friend, their torturer, their master.

I’m sure some will read this and get offended, because people are quite weak mentally these days and claim that they enjoy the taste of foods, etc etc.

To those people, guess what, everyone (or most people) enjoy food, however if you proceed to eat like an idiot with not a thought to your health you will pay the price in the long run, if you’re not already paying it and it all starts with the psychology of how people relate to food.

Food is just food, it is not something that should control you and if it does then you may wish to seek out some guidance to overcome this and take back control and realise you’re the master.

Personal question for you, have you ever had an eating disorder?

An alarming amount of people have at one stage or current do, so don’t feel you’re alone, there are plenty of others who understand the peace you’re in.

If you also know this, what keeps you in it?

To me this is the fascinating part, because many often choose to stay in a vicious and potentially abusive cycle, because the pain of living any other way seem too great.

Is that how you feel?

Food can have quite the hold over people, I would know.

Food was never used as a tool to control my behaviour as a child so I didn’t grow up with any particular affinity to a food (junk or otherwise), my own personal issue came from being in a highly competitive field that required weight monitoring, again the food itself wasn’t the issue.

Over time various things were learnt, one being a family predisposition (fathers side) to Gluten, most of them have Celiac, this poisoned my mind because it gave me something to latch on to, a logical excuse for not doing certain things, not eating certain foods, basically a reason to become neurotic.

As you can imagine a tricky relationship with food started to develop, this caused various issues in both mental health, physical health along with putting quite the strain on relationships.

Of course at the time it’s never us that is the problem, or the way we eat, nor the way we think, it’s everyone else who does’t understand. We become so enamoured with what we know or rather feel we know that we stop listening to anything that doesn’t fit the narrative we want it to fit.

A dangerous and lonely place to be, so much so that we seek out people in a similar place, that say similar things and it makes us much worse for it.

Think of it like this, where is the worst place for a meth addict to be?

Surrounded by others who hold the attitude of “It’s okay, I need it, we need it, why should we let them take it away from us, it’s ours, our precious.” – extreme example, however one that is easy to understand.

It is hard to break away from a particular mindset by surrounding yourself with people who also think that way, doing that is only going to further confirm the bias that what is being done is okay, when it might be quite harmful to us, again, a place I’ve personally been in.

The only way to move forwards is to speak to those people that perhaps anger or frighten us, not the ones that pander to our biases.

Overtime sense was seen and a swift realisation came.

To be more than we are, we must be prepared to accept the pain of change and seek out those that will tell us what we don’t want to hear as that is often what we need to hear.

While their is comfort in the familiar, just because it si comfortable it doesn’t mean it’s any good for you.

Anyway, enough of that reminiscing.

Share your thoughts, not what you think people want to hear mind you, YOUR thoughts and what food means to you and if possible where you feel this attitude came from.

I look forwards to reading them.
Ross

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One move to rule them all

The kettlebell snatch, what a great move.
 
Do you know if there was only time and space enough to do one movement several times a week this would be a high contender.
 
Here is why:
 
– Epic cardiovascular hit
– A true test of mental fortitude
– Power, Strength, Endurance & Muscle is the consequence
– Nothing in the posterior chain gets missed
– Posture, core and grip strength are built
– It’s fun, plus you can get in some quality work in sub 5min
 
What is not to like about a movement that can do all of that in such a short space of time.
 
You will also find that depending on the style of technique used it can affect the results you get, commonly you will find two main styles.
 
 
 
The first will yield slightly more strength, the second more CV due to it being a movement of efficiency.
 
Personally I’d advise you utilise both.
 
If you have never done this before than I would suggest you hire a coach to teach you, someone from StrongFirst (or RKC) or an active Kettlebell Sport competitor would be my recommendations for a high quality of instructor.
 
For the sake of thought theory, let us say that you’re going to do the above movement because you life dictates that all you can do for a period of time, say 50 days straight.
 
Yes, I said 50 days straight.
 
How can you train everyday and not tear up your hands or injure yourself?
 
That’s easy, you wave the volume of each session along with the length and you may also do well to see each day as a practice rather than a ‘workout’ because people seem to link the latter word with killing themselves; this is not conducive to long term progress.
 
Here is how you can structure a short cycle of days that repeat.
 
Day 1 – Long Session, 45min, light bell, aim for 200+ reps
Day 2 – Short Intense practice – 5min, AMRAP
Day 3 – 30min session, heavy kettlebell ladders 1-2-3-4-5
Day 4 – Short Intense practice – 10min, AMRAP
Day 5 – 20min Session – medium weight/volume (tech work)
Repeat
 
Also, don’t be afraid to have a session that consists of singles and perhaps doesn’t go beyond 25 reps each arm, it’s okay, technical sessions such as that allow a great amount of recovery while still keeping your body in the groove.
 
You don’t have to kill yourself each time you go in the gym, maybe once or twice a week going hell for leather is good, any more might not be conducive to long term health of performance.
 
Essentially you auto-regulate the training and go by feel.
 
Can you periodise it, yep, that will take some planning though and while that is my person approach some people don’t have the inclination to do such things. As such you’d do well to have a training diary and simply track what you’re doing.
 
Follow a Heavy-Light-Medium-LIght-Repeat approach.
 
Try the above for 50days, trust me, it will be worth it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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There really is no better school than the old school

An odd set of lifts for oddly ostentatious results.
 
Morning all,
 
You’d be amazed at just how impressive a physique you can create with just one lift and minimal weight.
 
The single arm barbell Get up, a truly great movement.
 
The single arm barbell press is also pretty outstanding and can be performed once you’ve done the get up.
 
All you do is pick up the bar from the floor, bring it to your shoulder and press it overhead, you may end up doing a strict press, a side press or a bent press depending not he weight, however over time you may progress from say a bent press (allow heavier load) to doing the same weight for a strict press.
 
Next up you have Zecher Squats (and carries), these make a lovely paring with Floor Presses.
 
Actually Floor Presses also work well with Power Cleans (these are not so odd, still good though).
 
Then we have single arm deadlifts, be that sumo, split or suitcase style, they’re all good.
 
You may notice a theme with most of the simple notions I pop up, that being minimalistic and often towards movements that will yield the most bang for your buck.
 
I’m not oppose to classic body building methods, however for most people who lack time to train they’d be far better off spending their time doing more productive things, as opposed to bicep curls and lateral raises.
 
The few movements above are not normal to most people, this will result in inefficient training and a stressor that can help many break their plateaus and become stronger.
 
You can YouTube all the lifts above.
 
I would also suggest you take a look at this website:
 
 
You can get some great books here that have a large amount of training gems in them.
 
Each book is from a much simpler time where the main measure of your character was your not only your resilience, it was also your patience.
 
Have a good read and enjoy,
Ross

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An Ego Plateau

When it comes to lifting and the average ability of someone who partakes in this joyous hobby, beseem to hit plateaus very quickly.
 
Do you ever sit and wonder why?
 
In the early days some goals were set in my minds eye, the two main ones were to hit a 3xBW squat & deadlift, which happened, then the classic trap was sprung and progress stalled.
 
Looking back through training diaries the answer is obvious.
 
It was ego, or rather the identity that came with having those numbers against my name and as such training was often too heavy with volume too low to make any meaningful progress from.
 
This also lead to other things being neglected in the grand scheme of things, not a smart move.
 
Of course looking at the bigger picture and needing some kind of guide for numbers there was a clear shortfall, here is the guide that I personally found to be the one that is achievable and would have most people look at your in average training and say – “Huh, stronger than he looks.”
 
This was acquired from digging through older training logs/writing of old school lifters:
 
Intermediate Strength
 
1 Plate wide grip chins for reps
 
The rest are singles:
 
2 Plate press overhead
3 Plate bench press
4 Plate squat
5 Plate deadlift
 
Now not everyone wants that, so these are useful for most and will provide enough strength, in fact more than most will ever need.
 
Novice Strength
 
Wide grip chins for reps
1 Plate press overhead
2 Plate bench press
3 Plate squat
4 Plate deadlift
 
Nothing earth shattering, for lighter people any of the above would potentially be astronomical numbers, yet for the heavier wanderers they’d be mere drops in the ocean, however if you weigh over 100kg for example intermediate strength would be expected in my eyes due to leverage etc, provided you’re not just over 100kg of mulch.
 
Having some baseline numbers to work towards and hit (for strength, CV etc), or monitor/float around gives those who value strength above all else some standards that are not subjective, unlike aesthetic.
 
Of course the problem with having the above is that you may get caught in the trap of chasing the numbers and once you hit them, struggling to relinquish your egos need to stay at or around them every session, while understandable it’s not good for progress in the long run, trust me on that one.
 
We, or rather our attitude and necessity to hold on to an identity are often the reason we plateau.
 
You see it in all walks of life, from strength related participants to runners, triathletes, CrossFitters and even just average gym bunnies/bros, they all achieve a small milestone and the desperately try to keep a hold of it, usually at the cost of long term progress.
 
If you’re known as someone in your gym it can be hard to let that go, the fear of going a little easier or lifting a little lighter cripples you mentally, doesn’t it.
 
The line I wrote above – “Huh, stronger than he looks.”
 
At one point meant more to myself than it should have, as a result it consumed me in my small lifting world and circle of people, it cost much in the end and while nice to have hit targets and achieve adulation, trying to stay there was foolish and costly.
 
Perhaps I’m the only person in this group who has fallen victim to this. Who has caused their own plateau because of ego & pride, such is the self imposed burden of feeling you have to be the best, of feeling you have to be worthy because all you’ve known is struggle and find the talented yet lazy people infuriating because of how they waste and sunder their gifts, perhaps not.
 
Either way it’s a dangerous attitude to have indeed.
 
The problem isn’t the plateau, it’s your attitude.
 
What plateaus have you hit because you wouldn’t get out of your own way and take one or two steps backwards so you could leap forwards?
 
Share your self perpetuating failures below.

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