Expectations, Perfection and a F*CKing Sandbag

consistency is keyMy time in the coaching game is juvenile compared to those who have shaped me and I admire greatly, but one of the hardest parts of being a strength coach I’ve found is dealing with peoples unrealistic expectations about getting things “perfect” from the outset.

There seems to be a belief amongst many that they’ll achieve “perfect form” upon the first attempt, or at least within the first session.

In reality, perfect doesn’t exist – certainly not in a pass/fail sense anyway.

Movement, strength and health are just like anything else in life – consistency is key.

They require attention to detail, practice, failing, learning, grinding and persistence. There are countless available comparisons, take learning to paint. Can you draw first and foremost? Then it’s learning about techniques, styles and methods. Then the more practical mixing colours and brush strokes on the canvas. Is there anyone who feels they will create a Da Vinci level masterpiece on their first attempt? I really doubt it.

Music is the same. I’ve been playing guitar for over 15 years. It’s become second nature. I recently started with the tin whistle. At no point was I under the assumption I could pick it up and play an Irish classic. It’s been hard. It sounds terrible. It’s frustrating. It requires constant tweaking, learning, studying and practice. I’m at polar opposites in terms of the levels of skill with the two instruments. One is second nature. The other is taking baby steps. It’s only taken 15 years between the two…

Art, music, martial arts, learning to drive and sports all have a different holds in peoples mind. They inherently understand that it’s going to be tough and will take time understand the technical nature of the task ahead and that mastery is years away. Again, consistency is key.

Strength and correct movement patterns are like any other art. The mind-set needs to be conducive with the above thinking – treat it like an art. Learn to love it, stick with it and embrace the years of struggle it takes to master it.

What’s my point? I guess none really. It’s just something that has been occupying space in my mind.

The takeaway though: Treat strength and movement like any other art.

If you’re new, it’s going to suck. It’s going to be a long road ahead and will require your time and attention. Don’t let it destroy you in the first week when things aren’t already perfect. Have a white belt mentality and rise through the ranks learning and growing along the way.

Don’t be upset by a lack of immediate perfection, rather celebrate the little victories. Keep a journal, constantly progress and look back at how far you’ve travelled in your strength journey.

Want a ridiculously tough workout?

Load up a sandbag heavily, in my case it was 220lbs and shoulder it as many times as possible in 30 minutes.

It will exhaust every muscle and require you to continually dig deep. People talk about functional strength and toughness, but this kind of workout truly tests your limits and makes you better in the process.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, consistency is key!

Phil.

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