I'm sitting in an undisclosed location in the desert. I have a lot of time to think. We get a lot of emails asking what program is best for an individual. Those questions made me realize that a lot of people don't actually know why they are going through the motions of working out. Jamming out to some Steve Earle and on my third cup of Turkish coffee, you guys are about to get another window into my furiously spinning ADD brain. Today I'm going to explain the most important thing you can possibly identify in your training: The reasons behind your striving.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Not Just For Nerds Anymore
We don't train in a vacuum. Everything we do matters, because we have a limited amount of time on this blue planet. With this in mind, we should seek to maximize our efforts while we can. I spent a lot of reps trying to get huge when I was climbing mountains every day, and spent a lot of time running long distances when I was kicking in doors and needed to be stronger. I was susceptible to training for what I wanted to look like, and not for what I NEEDED to be good at. Time spent training shouldn't be worthless to what you want and need to be good at in real life.
We've talked about SOF guys having a tradition of a strong counter-culture. If we hope to have success in life, we need to understand our motivations, and the first step of that enlightenment is articulating WHY we are doing something. This is even more important if you are the kind of person who typically chooses the less travelled path. If you don't know what your path is going to look like, can't find many resources to guide your planning process, and don't have a robust support system to facilitate your efforts you at least need to know why you are taking that path.
We Can't Choose Your Adventure For You
If you look at any program provided here at SOFLETE you will see a program description front and center. We outline attributes that will be worked on during the program and describe generally how your adherence to the program will effect those attributes. This is more guidance than most of us will get in how we apply these attributes in our everyday lives. That part is up to you. Do you want to assess for a special operations unit? Are you already in a special operations unit? Do you simply want to be healthy and chase your kids (and spouse, let's be honest) around more effectively? This is typically the place where clients get de-railed and want to be given answers on what program to choose, but the answer lies inside.
Honest self-assessment is key at this point. What does your life/work require of you physically? Where are you currently in your physical fitness journey? Where do you need to be in 12 weeks? Will the evaluative gates that are currently driving your training change outside your control? How we answer these questions should absolutely shape our training agenda.
Just For Perspective, Here's My "Why"...
I want to be the strongest possible person I can be and still excel at whatever version of the Army PT test I am being evaluated on at any given time. No matter how big or strong I am, if I can't run 5 miles in 40 minutes, I am a failure. Recreationally I love doing things alone in the back country. I have to be able to perform under load on short notice. So, I make sure I maintain a strong posterior chain and focus on injury prevention. I have kids, and I want to see them, so I can't spend three hours a day in the gym working on aesthetics. My training has to remain balanced to meet these necessities. Functionality, recreation and family drive my agenda.
"But I look good doe..."
As a society we have seen a HUGE uptick in specific fitness routines playing a role in our individual identities. Going in to a room filled with weights and sweating and grunting with no real idea of how your physical efforts are actually improving your lifestyle is equivalent to masturbation; it feels great, but is generally a waste. Don't get so pre-occupied with being good at gym things that you lose focus of the life that exists beyond the walls of your fitness facility. You may find that identifying WHY you are training greatly adjusts HOW you are training and lets you get back to what matters in your life.