Can You Ever Be Strong Enough?

Whenever I meet with a potential new client at the gym, I always ask them 3 basic questions: Why are you here?  What are your goals?  What is it about yourself that you want to change/improve?  Invariably, they all say some semblance of the same thing…

“I want to lose x number of pounds”,

“I want to be healthier.”,

“My doctor wants me to lose weight.”,

“I need to get in shape”,

“I just want to tone.” (whatever that means!)

Do You Want to be Stronger?

After drilling down into each of these generalities with them and getting them to choose a more specific, meaningful, and therefore achievable, goal, I’ll usually ask them one more question – “What about strength?  Do you want to be stronger?”  

Surprisingly (to me anyway), 99% of them say no, they don’t think they need/want to be stronger.  A typical response is something like, “I think I am strong enough, I just want to lose weight and tone…”

This is absolute nonsense!  What exactly does “strong enough” mean anyway???  I had no idea, so I’ve devised a checklist.

Are You Strong Enough to…

  1. Deadlift at least 2x’s your bodyweight?
  2. Break down a door and rescue someone from a burning building?
  3. Defend yourself from 1 or multiple opponents?
  4. Do a 1 arm push-up (or more than 1)?
  5. Hike 10 (or more) miles through the woods to survive?
  6. Do a 1 arm pull-up?
  7. Push your car out of a ditch?
  8. Play with your kids/grand-kids without getting winded?
  9. Defend  your family if they are under attack?
  10. Do a Turkish Get-Up with a 70 lbs kettlebell?
  11. Carry a wounded friend, child, comrade to safety?
  12. Do a pistol – aka 1 leg squat (or more than one each leg)?
  13. Snatch a 53 lbs kettlebell over 100 times?
  14. Rescue a drowning person without drowning yourself?
  15. Complete a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder?
  16. Take a strong push from any direction and be able to neutralize it?

 How did you do on this list?  

If you said no to one or more (or all!!) of them, then you are by no means strong enough.  Even if you are able to accomplish all these tasks, there is still more to learn, more to practice, more to do, more to grow.  There’s always more!!

A great new resource out there for anyone looking to get stronger and tougher is my friend Zach Even-Esh’s new book, The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning, Zach Even-Esh
How to get stronger and tougher- In the gym and in life – Using the training secrets of the Athletic Elite

 How to get stronger and tougher- In the gym and in life - Using the training secrets of the Athletic Elite

9 Steps to Creating Harmony in Your Life

1.  You Cannot Control What Happens

This first one is an essential principle.  If you can wrap your head around this one, the rest is easy (well, easier, anyway).  The basic premise is simple: you cannot control what happens to you.  The only thing you can ever control is YOUR reaction to it.  See my post on Where Do You Locate Your Control for more on this topic.

2.  Zero Based Thinking

The essence of Zero Based Thinking is this – Knowing what I now know, would I get into it again? If yes, how do you get out and how fast?  Use this in all areas of your life:

  • Time
  • Emotion
  • Relationships
  • Job
  • Money

Investments of time, money, and emotion cannot be recovered.  If you decide that the situation is something that knowing what you now know you would not get into it again, cut your losses and get out of that particular situation, fast.

3.  Medicate Daily (Story)

I was talking to a young yoga teacher at the gym a few weeks ago and she asked me about my 14 year old daughter.  She was sympathizing with me about how girls at that age have a tendency to be very emotional and she was explaining how she was still very much that way herself at age 28.  She then proceeded to offer me some advice – “You know what really works, Jon?  Medication.”  I looked at her strange, but she continued on… “Yes, your daughter needs to medicate daily; it works for me.”  At this point I was getting angry.  Who the heck was she to be proscribing medical advice to my kid?  And she is a yoga teacher for God-sake!  What the hell?  Finally, just as I was about to say something very rude to her, she said again, “Yes, if I don’t MEDITATE daily, I can’t keep myself together…”  Ooops… she was talking about meditation, not medication all along… 

There are several different types of meditation.  Over my 30+ year martial arts career, I have experimented with many of them.  My favorite is Standing Meditation from Yiquan.  See my post on Relaxed Standing.

4.  Good Friends and Family

You can’t always go at it alone.  Human are social, tribal beings.  We need other people.  This is where good friends and family come into the picture:

  • They listen, but don’t judge
  • They tell you how it really is, not how you want to hear it
  • They push you to be your best
  • They are always there for you no matter what
  • They support you, but won’t carry you
  • They not only share in your joys and revel in your triumphs, but walk with you holding your hand in your darkest hours
  • They love you unequivocally

 Sometimes I get by with A Little Help From My Friends

 

5.  Push Your Body to Its Limits

Since this is Warrior Fitness, you should have expected this somewhere in the list!  The fastest way to change your state is by changing your physiology.  This means posture, movement, and breathing.  Uniting all those things together in the process called exercise will transform you.  Sometimes you must Create Your Own Adversity.

Hone Your Mind,

Invigorate Your Spirit,

and Make Fierce the Body with Warrior Fitness!

 

6.  Fortress of Solitude

This one is the corollary to #4 above.  While we are social beings, sometimes we need to get away.  The only time you can really be with yourself and be able to hear that small, still voice inside you is during distraction free alone time.  This means no cell phone, no TV, no computer, no tablet, no books, nothing other than you.  Take time to get away and just think.  More than think, listen.  Take a walk in the woods.  Go to the beach by yourself.  Sit in your room and close the door.  Whatever it takes.

7.  Help Someone Else

Every volunteer and charity organization on the planet knows this one.  Be reminded that there are others more unfortunate than you who need your help.  Give of your time.  

8.  You Are What You Think

If you think you can, you are right.  However, you are equally right if you think you can’t.  Focus your mind on positive, creative, success oriented ideas.  As William James noticed, we become what we think about most of the time!

 William James quote #1

 

9.  Choose Happiness

This seems very simplistic, but remember from above that you are what you think.  Therefore, you always have a choice.  You can choose to be upset, frustrated, depressed, angry, or you can choose to be happy.

On Happiness

The way to experience ultimate happiness is to let go of all worries and regrets, and to know that being happy is the most satisfying of life’s feelings. Reflect back on all the progress in your life and allow the positive, creative and joyous thoughts to outshine and overwhelm any sorrow or grief that may linger in the recesses of your mind. Knowing that disease and disaster are natural parts of life is the key to overcoming adversity with a calm and happy spirit. Happiness is waiting there in front of you. Only you can decide whether or not you choose to experience it. Take this to heart.

- Takamatsu Sensei

7 Ways to Jump Start Your Fitness Routine

You need to get back to the gym.  You know it.  I know it.  The question is, why aren’t you doing it?

You know you should workout.  You know you should upgrade your nutrition.  You know you should do more to support an active healthy lifestyle.  You know you should hire a trainer.  You know you should sign up for that yoga class.  But you don’t.  Why not?

You are, as Tony Robbins would say, should-ing all over yourself.  

Here’s a list of 7 strategies to help you get it together and turn that should into a must! [Read more...]

Paleo Oatmeal Recipe

My daughter, Caitlin originally turned me on to the idea of Paleo Oatmeal.  She made it for me one day last week and I was hooked!  It’s high in protein, good fats, slightly sweet, and tastes amazing.  As you will see, it’s not really oatmeal since Paleo doesn’t do grains, but the consistency has the look and feel of oatmeal.

Since last week we have been playing around with and tweaking the original recipe to our liking.  Here’s what we came up with: [Read more...]

Weakest Direction Theory is BS – Part 2

Make sure you read the highly controversial Part 1,Weakest Direction Theory is BS, before moving on to part 2 below… 

Preface

I love martial arts.  I love everything about it.  I love training martial arts, practicing martial arts, teaching martial arts.  I love reading martial arts history, philosophy, even martial arts fiction.  I love talking about martial arts.  I love writing about martial arts.  Are you getting the picture yet?  Have I pre-framed this well enough for you?   [Read more...]

Weakest Direction Theory is BS

Warning: The following post is going to conflict with the most basic, fundamental principle you “know” to be true in martial arts.  Chances are you learned this principle on your first day of martial arts class.  Since that day you have repeated it almost every class.  You have taught it as truth to every new person you’ve ever trained with.  It’s so ingrained into your psyche that it’s practically dogma.  Most likely you will read this a instantly brand me a Budo Heretic.  Yup.  It’s that controversial…

[Read more...]

My Morning Routine

For the past several weeks there has been a running theme interwoven throughout my blog posts.  That theme has been practice, Daily Personal Practice (DPP), to be precise.

I’ve gotten several questions about the details of my own DPP since I refer to it several times in my writing.  So I figured I would pull back the curtains and give you a more detailed glimpse into my Morning Routine of DPP in this post. [Read more...]

Best Way to Program Your Training

One of the most oft asked questions I get from people, from both the online and offline worlds, is about their weekly workout schedule:

“How should I program my workouts?”

“How many days per week should I train?”

“Is it wrong or bad to train 2 days in a row?”

“How much rest should I have between workouts?”

“Is there one best way to program my training?” [Read more...]

Are You Practicing Wrong?

Are you making progress in your practice, or do you feel like you’re running in circles, making lots of motion but essentially getting nowhere?

Maybe you’ve got this whole practice thing wrong…

We all know that practice is absolutely essential to the development of any skill.  But how should we practice?  What qualities should our practice have to make sure it is both effective (increasing skill) and efficient (making the best use of time)?  How long should we practice, how often? [Read more...]

Principles, Techniques, and Internal Power

For some reason people seem to use the terms principles,techniques, and internal power interchangeably within the context of martial arts practice.  Because of this mistake, they then tend to get confused between them.  While they are all obviously related, each term is separate and distinct and should not be interchangeable with one another. [Read more...]