2013-01-01 Kill Your Weaknesses

I’ll start this article the same way I should start every one I write: If you’re happy where you are, read no further. If, however, you’re not totally satisfied with your body, listen up. Your habits and the weaknesses they’ve created have helped you get the body you now have. The quickest road to getting your body where you want it is to eliminate, once and for all, your biggest weaknesses.

If you look at what you do in training, you’ll see patterns. Although these patterns or habits are occasionally useful, most of the time they are responsible for holding you back, as well. You find a new training plan, play with it a few weeks, and slowly modify it back into what you were doing before.

How do you deal with limiters? The same way. You do a little hamstring stretching at the end of each session for say, two days, then you skip one, then eventually it becomes clear that you can’t possibly fit in all of your bench press variations if you waste all this time stretching.

Weaknesses are inherently problematic—part of the reason we have them is because we don’t like doing those things. I’d much rather talk about rock climbing than my feelings, so I’ve become very good at talking about rock climbing and even better at rationalizing why talking about feelings is stupid.

Weaknesses demand action. How much is your bench max going to drop if you commit to flexibility training for 6 out of 7 workouts? Maybe 5-10 pounds. How long is it going to take the new, flexible you to pick up those pounds next month? No time at all.

Your weakness-killing action plan should go like this: Figure out how much total training time you have in a typical week. Take that amount of time, and commit 75% of it to training your one weakness. Make it specific: “flexibility” is not enough— you’ve got to train for a very specific kind of flexibility, and one you can measure.

The other 25 % of your training time will be dedicated to maintaining all those things you usually do, but not trying to move forward in any one of them.

You have 4 hours to train each week? Good. 3 of those hours are going to be spent trying to get your lifelong hamstring inflexibility to go away.

Take a month and work the weakness, then go back to your “normal” training. The following month, reassess where you are weakest, and attack that for another 4 weeks. Stay after the weaknesses in this way, and soon they’ll be very hard to find. Ignore them, and they’ll put the brakes on everything eventually.