Tag Archives: lessons

Pearls from Pondering

Given our shared love for training & learning.

I’m curious to know how you’ve taken the advise/wisdom of the older iron athletes (or anyone) from even as early back as say Eugene Sandow.

What you may say have been your top 3-5 pearls of wisdom that shaped your current training.

Here are the 5 that came to my mind as I wrote this.

1 – Strength Standards, McRoberts 300/400/500

Stumbled across that after I’d already had my own standards of wanting to hit 2xbw bench and 3xBW squat/DL.

Luckily the numbers weren’t that far off what he suggested (hit the all BW multipliers weighting 70kg, all in the same meet, it killed me).

In addition to the 300/400/500 I personally added these in too: 100/200 – 100lbs on a pull up, 200lbs press, for no other reason that it made the numbers look nice to my brain 😂

2 – Two Movement Training, Kono

This came from reading and listening to bits from Tommy Kono about how he trained while insisted in the service.

He often did two movements per session, perhaps a clean to front squats and the presses behind the neck one session, a snatch variation and some form of other pull in the next.

Rep/set wise I want to say it was something along the lines of 8×2-3 with perhaps also 2-4 sets of 8-10, however my mind has gone a tad blank on that so I’ll have to check.

Even in doing limited work so he still managed to claim multiple WL titles, this left a truly deep impression on my young mind at the time, because all I’d known before was to ’embrace the suck’ and just outwork everyone else.

Barry Ross also took a similar approach with is sprinters.

3 – Train on a Calm Heart, Coan

Arguably the histories most decorated power lifter, Ed Coan, said he’d often train while sign quite calm and simply go in and hit is numbers that he’d reversed engineered from he day he wished to peak on.

This way on meet day when he did get amped up the extra psych would mean the lift was hit easily or more was in the tank.

Rickson Gracie also had a similar view on keeping a calm heart for more optimal performance.

Personally I found once really adopting this in my early 20’s it yielded massive improvements in recoverability and a good kick to the ego getting it in check.

4 – Training is for Building Strength, Various

Many a strong lifter will speak of the truism that the gym is meant for building strength instead of testing it.

I couldn’t say if this was Andy Bolton, Dave Tate, Louis Simmons, Mike Boyle or someone else that I first heard this from, all I know is it struck a cord.

At the time the aim was to ‘win’ the training session.

This was foolish and lead nowhere good, and a lot try to do the same because they want to be that big fish in a small pond, yet no one really cares what is lifted in the gym, it’s what you do in comp (whichever endeavour you compete in) that really leaves an impression.

True enough a session requires a solid effort.

Yet constantly trying to beat everyone else in training just leads to stagnation in my experience.

5 – No Story is not Worth Hearing, Hewley

This wasn’t from a lifter, it was from a PSP game called Crisis Core, yet it really hit home.

We can be quick to dismiss people and what they may have to say when our views don’t align or our ego gets flared up.

Much like all the people that will scoff at abbreviated training, they might be missing out on a little gem of information that could change their life.

Same goes for those who live and breath the minimalistic approach, they’re quick to discount those who follow high volume or a different tome, this is again naive because how can we really make a decent decision/judgement on something if we’re not willing to listen and out our ego to one side.

Anyway, I’ve rambled.

What pearls of wisdom have shaped your lifting & perhaps even life philosophies?

It’d be great to hear them.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Progress in Life, Lifting and Learning

There are a lot of things to remember when it comes to making progress in life.

Well, at least that’s what most would have you think.

Over the years these have been the glaring consistencies:

– Master the basics
– Failure is the best teacher
– More is rarely better, it’s just more

In regards to the first point, if you are looking at it in a fitness sense you’ll not really need more than the basics and while all the other options available are nice, they’re not necessary.

Squats, Presses, Pulls, Loaded Carries & Moving.

You don’t need much more from the gym, the rest you can gain outside of 2-3 sessions per week by partaking in various hobbies.

Life doesn’t need to be spent living in the gym.

A lesson it took me many failures to learn because of doing too much for too long and not getting anywhere that is where understanding less done better yields greater results than more just for the sake of more.

Live wise the above got in the way of experiencing it.

It’s a place many fall into, especially when they feel that by changing their look to gain more confidence, attention and self-love will be the answer, which of course it never is.

The reason for that is a simple one.

Just because you change who you are on the outside that doesn’t mean it will even scratch what you are on the inside.

The gym doesn’t change who you are, you do.

The gym is meant to help improve your life, not consume it.

If you’ve spent year in there training away and still feel no better in who you are then you’ve merely exchanged on prison and place to hide for another.

By all means train, move well, look good on the outside.

Just be sure to live and grow on the inside too.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Bike Ride & Prejudice.

As we bask in the glory of the sun, like moths to the flame the cyclists take to the road.
Now there’s never been a problem my end with them until now.
Clogging up my pavement with their lycra barely supporting their family jewels 😤
Nah I just kidding 😂
One thing the sun seems to help many achieve is extra daily activity, be that in the form of cycling, running, swimming, or any outdoor activity.
Personally whatever get’s people actually doing something productive in regards to exercise/training is most pleasing to me.
These days a great many are caught in the thought that this must be done in the gym.
Simply not true.
My preferred style of training is outside with kettlebells, sandbags, barbells, ropes (to climb), if it was in a classic sense of training.
A truly enjoyable form of training is one where you learn a great amount of skill with it, such as martial arts, movement or that kind of thing.
Blending the two can make for quite the enjoyable life.
You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at the results too.
One thing I’ve tried to teach many is that it’s less about training ABC to achieve XYZ.
It’s about deciding what life you want to live and living it.
Say you wish to live life X, then the results you’ll have in fitness health, potentially aesthetic and all that other stuff will be the byproduct of the life you live.
This often yields a vast amount of experiences that can touch your heart emotionally and end up being unforgettable.
Now that my friends is a life well lived.
Therefore choose well and if you find your choice isn’t working for you then change it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

3 Reasons why you DON’T need to find what works for you.

You’ve probably heard someone say, or perhaps said yourself the immortal line of:
“Find what works for you/me” 🤔
While the sentiment is good this is more detrimental that it is useful when people are starting out because well at the beginner level you don’t know your ass from your elbow.
Sometimes literally…..
(I’ve known some rather unique people)
As such I’m going to give you some easy to understand reasons as to why finding what works for you doesn’t ever really find what works for you.
1 – Inconsistency & an excuse to give up 📜
First and foremost this attitude makes people as flakey as well cooked pastry.
Since they are trying to find their own unique style of training that is 100000% best for them they never stick at anything and instead pick training based on an emotional whim.
Often going for the shiny new method or what their bias sends them towards.
Ironically even if they do find what works for them it ends up working so well they stop and try something els because there must be something better out there which will get ever more results in a shorter time 🤦‍♀️
2 – Successful people follow a plan 📜
The reason so many programs have a generic ‘cookie cutter’ approach is because they’re based on the collective data from the majority.
Yes that means you.
Most of us fall in to that realm of just being ‘one of the many’, much to the dismay to the snowflakes of each generation.
Think of it this way, if you attend a Yoga class you follow the poses/flows and while minor adjustments are made to progress in the long run you follow the program and what is tough to you.
Same goes for martial arts, learning to paint, or anything else in life really.
Pretty much every person who achieves a level of success followed the wisdom and way of someone else until they understand enough about the basics and the underpinning principles to move forwards on their own.
True enough for some his too merely months to master, for others it took decades.
^^ You’d do well to live with the notion that you’re closer to the latter than the former.
3 – It’s an easy copout 📜
Did you know it’s far easier to tell someone to ‘find what works for them’ than it is to sit them down and try to have an objective conversation because most people just aren’t ready for that level of truth/depth.
True story. 🤗
Most people want to know what they want to know and already feel they know.
Take fat loss for example, if I was to tell you the most optimal way was to lift weights and adjust nutrition many would not like that answer.
As such they’d go off elsewhere until the found an answer that was acceptable to them.
This is what ‘finding what works for you’ gives to people.
Believe it or not we are not that unique, not really, and thinking we are is just the height of hubris.
Many have to earn the right tot truly program/train differently.
There are very few exceptions to this.
So there you have it, 3 reasons why instead of trying to find what works for you you’d be better off trying to focus on finding what works for the majority and going from there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Movies & Mindset

What movies littered your youth?
Mine were mostly martial arts flicks, and a classic amount of anime films to supplement a long running series.
Each of the characters was lean, powerful, fast and had an indomitable will.
I attribute a lot of how I grew to these.
This is also one of the major reasons on a personal note I’ve always preferred the leaner look of a fighter as opposed to the bulkier action hero of the 80’s.
I had never really given much thought to this.
Yet recently I was given cause to sit and reflect, thus these answers were found, answers that I wan’t even really aware I needed to know, yet in discovering them it has helped put some much needed perspective to life again.
In every one of these stories there was the classic structure.
– Call to action
– Suffer defeat at the hands of the enemy
– Mentor appears
– 80’s training montage
– Death, rebirth, atonement etc
– Returning to challenge the enemy
– Victory
– Lesson learned
– Peaceful times are embraced and enjoyed
– An ominous shadow of something worse is in the distance, so be prepared for a stronger enemy next time
– Set up franchise for sequels and £££££
Not the exact heroes journey, however you get the point.
Funny thing is you can look at your own life and apply this to it, well not exactly this, more the actual heroes journey.
To normal folk we tend to have this happen.
– Life is stable
– Struggle appears
– Most fold like a piece of origami
– Live in suffering
When struggle appears a lot of us will not want to tackle it head on, it’s easier to push it away, or to simply pretend nothing is happening and bury ones head in the sand.
While both are viable options, neither lead anywhere good.
There is no worth while lesson without struggle, and there is no struggle without pain, loss and sacrifice (usually of your innocence).
Yet once this is weathered and overcome the knowledge and experienced gained makes you much stronger, if you are to embrace it.
This was something I learned from all those movies and anime shows over the years.
Struggle is real, progress is slow, success is fleeting before another enemy appears and you have to repeat it all over again.
That is life.
However that is also what makes life worth living.
Wouldn’t you agree?

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5 reasons you need a training/nutrition dairy.

1 – It will keep you honest and you can compare then to now.
2 – They highlight what you do too much and not enough of.
3 – What looks good on paper may not work in reality, as such going over old diaries (food, training etc) can help you see what worked, what didn’t and what you have yet to try because it’s never been done by you.
4 – One can give you a sense of direction.
5 – You can have anime characters or your childhood heroes on it, what other reason could you need for wanting one now.
All in all writing down what you’ve done or what you will do can help massively in training, nutrition and habit change.
While at the start it is a pain in the ass, eventually it becomes a part of your life, a good habit to have.
Many successful people in the world keep one, therefore if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for us, right 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Nobodies perfect, or are they?

Good Morning All,
That word has always fascinated me, perfect.
Is it something that is purely dependent on context, an individuals subjective idea of what it is, global standards or something else entirely.
I suppose perfect could just be just about anything, especially in this modern world where everyone will look for any reason they can to protect what they think.
The notion of achieving such a height is commonly spoken about, however it has one glaring flaw.
It leaves people an ‘out’.
What do I mean by this?
It’s simple, just by setting such a high standard or goal that is near impossible to achieve it won’t matter if someone doesn’t reach it because it has a built in safety next of being almost too unrealistic, so if someone fails then they don’t need to lament it because no mere mortal could have done it, or so we’d say.
The above is something that people apply to a lot of their goals.
Setting the bar too high or too low are so similar it’s scary because both have built in and acceptable tolerances for failure so that the person doesn’t need to feel bad or experience shame for not doing what they said they were going to do.
It can be said that this is why people set goals that fall in to one of those two categories, as which ever it is it doesn’t matter if they don’t hit it because people will make excuses for them given the magnitude or insignificance of the goal.
Are you someone who sets goals in this way?
Or are you someone who sets challenges that are tough enough to make you struggle and sweat blood to achieve them for their rewards, which are worth it and just important enough that you care if you fail?
I hope you are.
Feeling disappointed, feeling shame in not doing what you said you would isn’t a bad thing, these emotions can keep you moving forwards when understood and utilised correctly.
The pain of shame and failure can be a brilliant motivator for someone to move away from the place they’re in and towards a better one, remember that.
Remember that nobodies perfect or achieve their perfect goals, however plenty of people achieve though goals that truly test their character and are pretty damn awesome as a result, just like you.


Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5 Things you can learn from labourers.

Especially those of the past (before the endless red tape came in to play), you know the ones, they seem have that coveted ‘old man strength’ or ‘dad strength’ as some call it.
These are they type of people that have never visited a gym, ever, yet they are in reasonably good shape, which might be a bit better if they laid of the beer.
That said, they are often strong, stupidly strong, not to mention durable and just mentally tough too.
A far cry from he modern desk jockey of today.
We’d be silly not to pay homage to these people and their work ethic as we can learn a lot from them.
So, let’s see what little gems we can find amongst the dirt and rubble.
1 – Work capacity is important.
Take for example the necessity to shift a few tonnes of gravel or slate in the space of a day.
You’re not going to be able to do this without having the following: Strength Endurance, General CV Endurance, Mental Fortitude.
Not to mention shifting it isn’t an option, it’s a must, that helps too.
2 – The muscle in the back of your body are important.
Look at anyone who works in a physical capacity and you will find that most of them usually have a decent set of muscle through their posterior chain.
This is due to a lot of loaded carries, full/partial deadlifts, holding things close to their chest and pulling things towards them and/or putting them on their shoulders (like a rope, buckets, barrels etc).
Without a strong back they wouldn’t be much good on site.
There were also many times where something would need to be picked up from the floor and put overhead too, without the use of equipment, all day long as well. Talk about a full body workout.
3 – They do what they HAVE to, no pissing or whinging.
Well, some whinge however they still crack on in the end, after a tea break or 5.
Do what is needed, simple.
4 – Cast iron grip strength.
Have you ever shook the hand of a mechanic or someone who constantly works with their hands?
God damn… It’s like a vice.
Once the have hold of something that’s pretty much it, they’re not letting go unless they have too.
Have you ever shifted tonnes of dirt in a wheel barrow all day?
(It’s essentially a day of partial deadlifts and farmers walks)
It’s grudging and apart form a strong back, traps, glutes and legs you need some major grip strength/endurance because without it you’ll fall behind and find yourself out of work.
5 – Repeatedly lifting Sub-Maximal loads build muscle.
You see some labourers that are giants, other not so much.
So why is this?
What is the difference between the two?
Some would say genetics, and they’re not entirely wrong, however knowing a great many people in this field I can tell you the MAIN difference is the sheer amount of FOOD they consume.
Those that eat like little mice, become lean, strong and robust, where are those that eat like elephants become sizeable, strong and look physically quite dominant.
This is all caused by a combination of the repeated bout effect (lifting sub max loads often) and of course calories consumed.
So there you have it.
People in the past were just stronger due to the physical nature of their lives – true for both men & women.
Keep that in mind.
5 things you can learn from labourers and hopefully apply.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

What’s old is new again

The Purposeful Primitive:

From Fat and Flaccid to Lean and Powerful:

Using Primordial Laws of Fitness to Trigger Inevitable, Lasting and Dramatic Physical Change

by Marty Gallagher

Have you ever read it?

You should, it’s a very good book with a wealth of experience in it and one simple take home message.

Success requires heart.

Morning All,

If you take the time to look there is a plethora of good books surrounding the realm of fitness.

Some are filled with numbers, plug & play programs, explanations of the basics and of course the principles/foundations of lifting, yet it’s the ones that are written in a story telling manor that hold the most secrets.

Ironically these are the books people will skip over because they want the quick answer.

This is understandable, however not too wise.

We can all read and gain a basic grasp of the numbers.

I’ve been such a person and has read hundreds of books of the years, admittedly skim reading the story-esc ones, due to my of foolishness at the time.

As I’ve gone back and reread these story books of lifting, Ive found new appreciation for them.

They hold not only training principles and methodologies.

Oh no, they hold something much more valuable as well.


They hold heart, or what some might call indomitable spirit, perhaps even attitude, regardless of the semantics, the message is clear.

Those lifting legends thought differently, they had that extra gear as it were. That defined focus that many of us lack, hence why we only really make mediocre progress – yes, mediocre.

Even those who we think are training hard are lacking.

In the book mentioned above there are many excerpts that speak of people lifting only twice per week and hitting world record numbers (if you check the records you’ll find it all true).

Could you make such progress on two sessions a week?

I highly doubt it. I couldn’t, not with my current attitude in training.

This goes to show just how things have changed, and by things I mean people, or at least our resolve and work ethic.

We’ve grown lazy, so very lazy.

If you’ve just sat and thought “What… screw you, I’m not lazy” or something similar, that’s your ego talking and unless you’re at the peak of your own personal pyramid and chosen endeavour you’re not working hard enough, or rather, working hard enough in the smartest way possible.

Here is an example of just how an attitude was back in the day –

Bill Pearl, he used to train at 4am.

Yep, 4am, before the world got p he’d already be grinning away to forge his body in a fire of iron, sweat and many repetitions.

He had a normal job too, plus lived a fairly busy life, so before you bring up your excuses understand this person had them as well, he simply didn’t let them stop him becoming a legend of lifting.

From reading in to the lives of people form yesterday I fear we’ve grown soft, reliant on our comfortable lifestyles. We’ve lost our edge.

The attitude now is one of ‘I will do more but with less intensity’ – for most people anyway, I’m sure you will explain how you’re the exception, that being the case I wish I was you.

In the book you also get the sense that theme & women of yesteryear trained to break boundaries and hammer their of limitations, I’m not saying some don’t do this now, they just lack the conviction of old.

The modern world has beaten people down with how we ‘should’ look, behave, think, feel and ugh more. It’s no wonder people have so many mental health issues these days.

If you want to expand your thought and learn what it is to I speak of in this post, I suggest reading these three books:

The Purposeful Primitive – Marty Gallagher

Super Strength – Alan Calvert

Secrets of My Strength – Paul Anderson

There are many more great books of old, you can find them here:


What’s old is new again.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

6 short lessons of success.

Everyone want’s to succeed, yet not everyone will… Unless you take heed of these sage words.
1 – It doesn’t happen overnight, there’s always a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.
2 – If you’re not upsetting people you’re not pushing the boundaries you need to.
3 – Success doesn’t care if you’ve had a bad day, feel ill or made a mistake, regardless of circumstance success will still demand sacrifice for it’s fruits.
4 – Hitting the pinnacle is a privilege, not a right.
5 – If not you, it will be someone else.
6 – You’ll have to keep doing more and more and more to boost your skill because no one starts out good at anything and if they do they never amount to anything because they take that gift fro granted.
Chances are you ready know the above, most people do yet they still feel they’re entitled to some sort of success when this is not the case, nor has it ever been. If you want something you’d better be prepared to work your ass off for it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health