The lessons I learned following the principles of progressive resistance weight training will forever stay with me. Key is having a planned routine; prescribed exercises with sets, reps, and noted pounds lifted served as constant measures of progressive goals to achieve — which could be a few more reps, or five or ten pounds added to the barbell. It all added up. With intention and consistent effort, I started making progress. Lots of it. At some point the bullies stopped picking on me. When teams were selected I was often among the first chosen. My life was never the same, again.
I immersed myself reading everything I could about training, getting stronger, nutrition and the best athletes. By sophomore year in high school I had won the state championships in both powerlifting and bodybuilding—two distinctly different sports, often confused as the same—and was beating guys older than me who often had greater genetic potential. I was able to succeed by having greater desire. Desire to learn more, train harder, and discipline my diet by understanding the nutritional value of every morsel I ate. I even understood the need for adequate sleep to properly recuperate from the unusual physical demands I put on myself. Initially, competing intimidated me but I used the intimidation as motivation to work and think better. Soon, my confidence grew because I learned I was behaving smarter than most of my competitors.
Desire and passion to succeed while others put in less than their best proved to be my single best competitive advantage. Same is true today. What motivates me more than most? I don’t know. Perhaps having failed first grade gave me something to prove for the rest of my life. Whatever “it” is, I’m glad to have what others too often seem to lack: Real desire.
Not a month goes by that I don’t meet an otherwise successful business person working well below their potential. They tell me—sometimes even brag—how motivated they are to change, achieve, and take some risks. But…truth is they’re only half-ass-committed. They’re complacent and have gotten good at procrastinating. Or worse, blaming others for their lack of progress. I laugh at the end of the day with my wife Conchi, telling her how someone doesn’t even want me to break a sweat for them — doing the “heavy lifting”, technical, creative, and difficult work to grow their business! Some people get it. Some don’t.
Starting this year, I set new goals for physical fitness, knowing I was not going to have as much time as in the past, because of other goals and commitments. We all have to prioritize, but not neglect, what is important. Following the advice in the book, Never Let Go, written by my friend and bestselling author Dan John, I made the decision (for a set period of time) to get really good at just one exercise.
My one exercise is the Farmer’s Carry. Understand, unlike the bench press, curls, yoga or Pilates… you’ll not see this done in 99% of commercial gyms. Yet it’s simple, unsophisticated and a God-honest, effective way to train and test your visceral strength and sustained endurance for distance. Something our grandfathers would have called “man’s work”.
It takes about two minutes to teach. You pick up two heavy objects in each hand and carry. That’s it. Aptly named, even city-slickers and suburbanites can picture a farmer carrying bales of hay or feed buckets around his barn. If you’ve ever carried a couple of bags of salt for your water softener or two heavy suitcases, you’ll know exactly how this is done.
My body weight fluctuates, but recently it’s been under 190 lbs. To keep it real, I decided that 200 lbs. in each hand would be a cool goal. Like Rocky sprinting up the museum stairs, arms raised in a solitary victory dance, I too plan to celebrate alone.
Although, I’m not so modest that I wouldn’t video tape it. (Yea, I video taped it: Farmers Carry Video)
Given that every goal should have a deadline, I selected my 50th birthday on May 20 as my completion date. I’m inspired by Jack LaLanne, another hero of mine, who for decades celebrated his birthdays by doing some feat of physical and emotional stamina. BTW, some of his feats are still world records.
It’s simple, and like everything else in life of value, it requires discipline and patience. As of mid-March, I’ve carried 180 lbs. for 60 feet, and have accomplished all the mid-course prescribed goals. I’m excited and encouraged. The training is equal parts physical and emotional strength to continue progressing every week. I believe I’ll achieve the goal of 200 lbs. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know.
I hope you also have a “success template” to follow. Failing can and will happen–sometimes. But trying only half-heartedly is not for winners. Having just one great victory (however small it may appear to be to others) and learning how to create future victories will change your life. I didn’t invent these methods. I have studied and applied them, and will continue to do so. How about you?