Posted On September 4, 2022

Mid Life Hard Body Practicing Things You Dont Like: Key to Improvement

Sadly, the universe does not care about what each of us likes and doesnt like. Our opinions and preferences dont have an impact in the physical world.

This inconvenient reality means that to make progress in most endeavors, we must do things that we dont find enjoyable.and do them often.

Everyone wishes they had certain elite levels of achievement. However, in real life achievement only happens when someone does a lot of work.

No one becomes an overnight star in anything worthwhile. For example, the Beatles played over a thousand gigs before they became famous. During this time they refined their musicianship and wrote many songs that later became hits.

IMHO the same rules of continually improving performance apply in all areas from physics to music, or any other complex and demanding activity.

As most readers of this missive are interested in fitness, Ill skip discussions of how to master the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto and stick to feats of strength and conditioning.


Lean a new exercise (or two) each year.

My casual observation is that most folks who hit the gym progress very little beyond the elementary movements. They may show up year after year, but never get any stronger or move their personal fitness needle more than a small tick.

This is because most never attempt to work hard on developing a new skill. The idea that one might switch from doing leg extensions to barbell squats never occurs to them.

Making progress from beginner to low intermediate level skill is easy. Moving beyond that requires taking on much more demanding challenges.

For those of us who aspire to keep improving our game, I have one modest suggestion: try to learn a new exercise movement each year.

By that I mean a movement that is somewhat more difficult than what you may be doing now.

For example, this year I am trying to master the back bridge push up and will attempt to learn how to do a solid L-sit. Other candidates on my list include the one arm push up and one leg squat. However, joints may be a limiting factor.

Stay tuned.


Learning New Stuff is. unpleasant!

I can attest that learning the back bridge is frustrating, sobering and at times embarrassing. However, I am determined to stay the course and keep moving ahead.

It will come as no surprise that almost 90% of the people who join a gym quit in the first month. This says a lot about how far initial enthusiasm will take you. Everyone begins with high hopes and grand goals. After a couple weeks these are tossed aside.

The folks that survive and persevere do so because they shift gears from being revved up with enthusiasm to settling in for the hard work and frustration that comes from doing something way beyond what they can currently accomplish.

Hall of Fame football coach Don James referred to this as the terrible work needed to win.

That is a chilling but accurate description of the effort and experience that will lie along the path to greater accomplishments.

There is no reason to sugar coat the difficulty that lies ahead in mastering a new and difficult movement.


A modest strategy

One thing I have found that can increase ones chances for success in doing the terrible work is to allocate 15-30 minutes of workout practice time every workout for the exclusive purpose of mastering the new trick.

It is best if this time is not placed at the end of the workout, as the tendency will be to blow it off.

Place it in the middle of your training schedule for each session.

Your success will depend on having a detailed plan for how you get from your present level of proficiency to successively higher levels. No planplan is to fail!

Each move you may choose to try will have a different series of intermediate steps that you need to master.

Getting help from someone who can do the move will he a huge help. However, I have found vanishingly few people who actually know how to do some of the more demanding moves.


What works?

I will leave you with a quote from former US President Herbert Hoover that sums up what is needed to succeed with these challenges:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Lift Big!


Written by Richard

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