The Secret To Dominance

This is a tale of two brothers – Ralph The Repeater and Earnest The Explorer.

The two lived on the planet Erasnick, a place that prided itself on its athleticism.

The brothers came from a family of pedigree. Their father had been named the Interplanetary Player of the Year three times and many other members of the family had represented Erasnick at the Games too.

As with most brothers of a similar age, a fierce rivalry existed between the two. Ralph and Earnest would make a competition of nearly anything, including their daily chores. The two would race to see who could muster the family’s Keepel, a sheep-like animal, the fastest.

Of course, their keenness to compete led to some troubles. Once during mustering season, the boys rustled the Keepel with such speed that the creatures were worked into a frenzy affecting their Goopel (a purple plasma-like substance) production for weeks.

The brothers went down different training paths; this is how their names came about. Ralph, the older of the two, was known for his discipline. When working on a skill, he had the willpower and fortitude to train for hours. He would adopt the tried and tested methods that past athletes had sworn by.

Earnest opted for a different approach. He would tell you himself that he is a ‘shiny objects’ kind of guy. He wasn’t sold on the idea that methods of the past were the best way to achieve results. He didn’t possess the stubborn discipline of his older brother but was inquisitive and searched the galaxies for alternative ways to improve. His exploring came at a cost, though, as the time which could have been spent training was instead spent travelling and determining the effectiveness of the approaches he had discovered.

When it came to local and national competitions, the two excelled in different areas with Ralph winning half of the time and Earnest the other. An observer could not say who was the better of the two.

Interplanetary competitions were a different story. Although they often put up a good fight, neither brother was able to take home the crown.

Soon after another failure at the tournament, the brothers sat together consoling each other over a steaming mug of Jalapo. The planet hosting the year’s competition, Plidar, was famous for its Jalapo. The flavour of the drink was reminiscent of Earth’s cinnamon though rather than being watery, the drink was thick and creamy.

It dawned on Earnest, as the two were discussing where they had gone wrong, that perhaps they should try a different approach.

Earnest proposed they take a leaf out of each other’s books – that is, Earnest would teach Ralph about the more effective methods of training he had gathered during his exploration, while Ralph would train Earnest to improve his discipline and single-mindedness.

Having nothing to lose, Ralph agreed and the two went to work.

The local competitions yielded the same results as before their discussion. It was a dead heat between the two. The difference now was their competitors, who usually managed to stay within reach of the two brothers, were blown away. It had become a two-horse race.

It wasn’t long before the next Interplanetary event rolled around. This would be a true test of their new strategy.

The difference was remarkable. The competitors were fierce but the brothers from Erasnick proved too strong with Ralph winning the tournament by the barest of margins over his younger brother.

A similar thread would appear for years to come with the two trading places on the podium. Their approach, combining a doggedness to work hard with searching and applying the most effective training methods, created an unparalleled legacy of Interplanetary dominance that would never be surpassed.

Does Bodybuilding Build Resiliency?

Bodybuilding is the pursuit of a muscular, lean and well-balanced physique.

While it may seem like a sport rooted in aesthetics, bodybuilding training has additional benefits which are often forgotten.

One of the main goals of the sport is to pack on as much muscle as possible. Apart from altering the way a person looks it also adds to how resilient their body is both in the short and long term.

Short term

Muscular hypertrophy increases the capacity of a muscle. It becomes stronger and more durable. When confronted with a physical challenge, particularly something which is new, novel or challenging, a more muscular physique is likely to stand up to the demands and come out the other end in better shape when compared to a less muscled body.

Throw a set of twins with equal experiences, though one with a bodybuilding background and the other without, onto a deserted island, and you’ll find the Arnie wannabe better adapt to the island’s rigours.

Long term

With ageing comes a loss in lean muscle mass.

Bodybuilding training is one way to negate or at least slow the loss of muscle. Think of this style of training as a retirement fund. The muscle that you gain is added to a stockpile. When confronted with the inevitable decline, your larger muscle reserve acts as a safeguard.

Bodybuilding is far from a frivolous pursuit; it has much to offer when it comes to building a hardy and tough body.

 

Ostracised For Being Healthy

When others hang around you often enough, they pick up on your habits and values.

Making good food choices, exercising regularly and being discerning with how you treat your body can often lead to people perceiving you as the ‘health nut’.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are perceptions, how you think people see you, but at the same time it’s impossible to be completely impervious to their comments.

For the most part, it’s important to recognise when people make comments around your healthfulness, they are often in good jest. Simply roll with the punches and add to the humour of the situation. Use it as an icebreaker before directing the conversation elsewhere.

There are a select few though, who are a little more malicious with what they have to say. They speak of you as if you’re some kind of alien and attempt to rile you up.

There are a few things to keep in mind when this occurs…

  • Reacting aggressively and attempting to counter their argument is exactly what they’re after. They want to see you squirm a little.
  • Their comments are a reflection of their own insecurities which they are projecting on you. Perhaps they have body image issues for instance.
  • The best tact is to self deprecate and go along with their argument. There is no sense in reasoning with this person. Instead make light of the situation. Not only will this make the conversation enjoyable for you, but diffuses their line of attack.

Next time you’re feeling ostracised for being healthy, remember most of the time it’s merely horseplay. Use humour and the ability to laugh at yourself to navigate these waters.

How do you approach conversations where your healthy habits are the butt of the joke? Leave your thoughts below.

It’s OK To Say ‘No’

Saying ‘yes’ can open the door of opportunity. Having the fortitude and foresight to answer in the affirmative is often a way to step out of your comfort zone leading to growth.

But the ability to say ‘no’ is just as important.

When can you benefit from saying ‘no’?

  • When your intuition suggests the option at hand isn’t the best option
  • When you’ve been through the same situation before and know how it will pan out
  • When it’s detrimental to your health
  • When you’re not ready. Imagine saying ‘yes’ to something physically or mentally demanding that requires total commitment. A slip-up could lead to harm or a loss of confidence, affecting your future participation. The alternative – saying ‘no’ – allows you to assess and ask, ‘Why was I  unwilling and how do I prepare for a similar scenario in the future?’

Saying ‘no’ can be the easy way out but it’s situation-specific. A ‘no’ can also lead long-term growth by giving you a chance to reflect.

Don’t use ‘no’ as an excuse to stay in your bubble. Use it as a tool to freeze time, allowing you to assess then capitalise on opportunities that may have otherwise overwhelmed you.

Have You Become ‘The Exercise Guy’?

We use stereotyping to categorise people. Although it might seem callous and lazy, stereotyping is inevitable and necessary. It helps determine who a person is and how they are likely to act.

Given you’re reading this blog, physical training is important to you. People around you have recognised this association too due to the change in your physique as well as what you tend to talk about. This might seem a harmless association. You’re asked: how training is going and how many times you go the gym? But with time, your stereotype strengthens.

Soon, every conversation is related to your physical pursuits. Family and friends question your eating habits and make comments like, ‘I wish I had your willpower,’ when you decide against a biscuit from the dessert platter.

These interactions begin to impact on how you see yourself. You feel as though you have a model to uphold to meet expectations. Next time you’re at a family gathering, although the cake and desserts look delectable, you choose to abstain in order to uphold your perceived image.

You’ve become the ‘fitness guy’. The title becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that will continue to harden and become increasingly difficult to break from.

But it’s not a bad thing. The situation is an opportunity to evaluate how much you value exercise and where your other interests lie. You may find you have few other hobbies and that presents a chance to expand and pursue things that have been on your to-do list but you have never got around to.

Your choices shouldn’t be driven by how you think you’re seen by others. Make changes based on the person you want to be, not to fulfil a certain stereotype.

Training Program Flexibility

Creating a training program can be enjoyable and anxiety inducing. How do you know if you’ve included everything you need?

There is no ‘best’ program. The subtle variations, like tossing up whether to include pull-ups or chin-ups, have little impact on the outcome.

Another common problem is that training schedules are too rigid. What happens when you miss a day due to illness or a family emergency? Instead of focusing on your health or that of a loved one, your mind is busy developing contingency plans.

Also, following a fixed program can create an inflexible life. Training becomes the number one priority with everything else crammed in around it. When weighing up social engagements your mind first flickers to whether it will impact your training. If it does, you muster up an excuse to free yourself from the commitment, missing an opportunity for growth outside of the gym.

Life is bigger than training and achieving goals in the weight room. The things you miss out on to stick to your routine provide opportunities to develop too.

Allow for flexibility in your training. When creating or following a program, work on the premise that things will come up and you will miss sessions. For example, have your training block be twelve to fourteen weeks in length rather than strictly twelve.

If a weekend trip comes up, go. By prioritising your training, you know what exercises and sessions can be missed without compromising progress.

It’s hard to let go of structure when you believe it’s intrinsically linked with progress. But you have to think long term. Significant progress is made in twelve years not twelve weeks. Don’t compromise your growth as a human just to get in another session at the gym.

Take a look at your training and make it pliable. It should resemble a bamboo tree, able to bend and sway, rather than a concrete pillar, prone to cracking under stress.

Why Do You Train?

Do you train because you want to or because you have to?

Understanding why you train can contribute to building healthy long-term habits, consistency, and progress.

There are immediate benefits of training like the satisfaction you gain after a tough deadlift workout.

Though, no one trains out of enjoyment all of the time. Waking up before dawn and jumping into an icy cold pool is rarely something to look forward to. But taking a step back and looking at training over time can create a clearer picture of reasons to train.

A birds-eye view helps you to get out of bed even when the prospect of training does not entice. If you get to the pool, you’re one step closer to your goal.

Set your goals with the future in mind. Targets are a good way to measure progress and make sure your on track, like achieving a particular lap time. Though plan even further ahead. What do you want to achieve in three months or three years?

Now you have less reason to skip training because there are consequences. By missing training, you put your long-term goal in jeopardy.

Train for the right reasons and use goals to keep yourself accountable.

External Expectations

We all have expectations of ourselves. A set of unwritten rules that guide our behaviours and actions.

Others have expectations of us too. Not just family and friends – everyone. The bank teller expects you to wait patiently in line while the service station attendant expects you to pay for your petrol.

We value others expectations differently. The more we respect someone, the more we try to uphold what they assume of us.

Are we doing the right thing by meeting the expectations of others? And how do we know what others expect of us if they don’t tell us directly?

Benefits of meeting the expectations of others

  • Strengthens the relationship
  • Encourages sharing of knowledge like between a mentor and student

Drawbacks of meeting the expectations of others

  • Internal conflict when personal expectations don’t match another person’s expectations
  • External conflict when we fail to meet someone’s expectations

The situation is a challenging because we value the other person, but the solution is simple – be selfish.

The only expectations we must meet are our own. It’s flattering for others to have expectations of us. Though the chances of the expectations matching are slim. If we communicate, focusing on self-expectations, with those around us, it can be a relatively painless experience. Ideally, they will realign their expectations based on our own and the relationship can grow.

Should we meet others expectations? Leave your thoughts below.

Feedback

Tests are often perceived negatively. We build them up to something bigger than they are and we’re sickened at the thought of doing poorly, being criticised or compared to others.

There is a growing notion that exams should become a thing of the past, but we’re a long way from a test-free world. We’ll be stuck with tests for the inconceivable future so, what’s the solution?

First, we must recognise the purpose of tests. They’re not designed to make us feel bad about ourselves or to heap harsh criticisms on our shoulders. We have created these pressures.

Tests are a mechanism that helps us to determine where we’re at relative to where we need to be. If we want to develop skills in a field, there are benchmarks for proficiency. We wouldn’t want an incompetent surgeon handling our kidneys now, would we?

Also, tests are an opportunity to gather feedback. Finding out what we could have done better allows for progression and stops us from repeating the same mistakes.

Let’s reframe testing. Our teachers want the best for us – their intent isn’t malicious. Although at times receiving feedback can be hard, thrive on the criticism. Look forward to being singled out. You’re less likely to make the same error in the future.