As I started to think of new topics for both this blog and my YouTube channel, I really wanted to be sure that I was adding value.
Anyone out there can give you new exercises, form tips, programming ideas and different things that you can/need to do to reach your goals.
But is that actually helping?!
I’m not so sure…
Let me elaborate, and hopefully, through some tough love, show you how you can really have motivation, confidence and be productive with your time in the gym.
The Problem With Looking For Tips
I mentioned earlier that I really want my work to add value, which is why when people apply to join my free Facebook Group I make them ask a question before I let them in.
It’s because I can see the situation; someone is mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and they see something that says “you should join Rugby Muscle Athletes”.
So they do.
All I want to know is why?
Why do they want to join the group?
What are the problems that they’re currently facing with their training, nutrition, physique and/or performance?
Most – like 80% of the guys that apply to join – don’t have an answer.
The majority of the guys left just say “I’m looking for tips”…
And really, I get it, but I want you to properly think about this one.
Tips for what?!
I’m hoping this article is going to solve this issue for you (and me).
You see, when I ask the question. What are the problems that they’re currently facing with their training, nutrition, physique and/or performance?
I’m really asking.
“What are the problems that you need solving to make you (more)satisfied with your progress?!”
If you’re just looking for tips, what I believe you’re really saying is.
“I’m not happy with my progress at all”
I told you, this is tough love.
But don’t worry – I’ve got your back!
If you suspect that this is you right now then I believe there are 2 fundamental things that you need to address.
Firstly, you need a goal… this is so incredibly important that it’s actually crazy to me how many people don’t take the time to really think about and understand what it is that they want to achieve with their training.
This might even feel a little bit strange, and I guess in a way it is. Strange because it’s different to what most people do – which is why most people don’t achieve bugger-all in the gym.
Even if we go by the vaguest definition of progress “simply moving forward”… how can we possibly know which way is forward if we have no direction?
This is why setting long-term, meaningful goals is the very first thing I do with anyone I work with.
I really can’t over-emphasize how vital it is that you do this…
Which brings me to my second point. Because once you’ve done that, you can answer the question that most are even afraid of asking themselves.
Are you actually satisfied with your progress (towards that goal)?
Believe me, this is an incredibly uncomfortable question for most people to look deep down and answer. Which is why most people just don’t.
Well, I mean, firstly they can’t – because they don’t have goals.
But secondly, they are not.
If you were satisfied, you wouldn’t be looking for tips, unless you specifically knew what your problem was.
But this then begs the question – what are people doing in the gym?!
Fuckarounditis – How to never achieve anything
I’m going to leave Martin Berkhan’s definition of Fuckarounditis here as is.
“Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym….Physical exertion is either completely lacking or misapplied (towards questionable or unproductive training practices).
Environment and social networks are crucial factors for triggering the disease. It has been proposed that the roots of the disease stems from misinformation and counterproductive training advice found in popular media (“fitness magazines”) and information hubs on the Internet.
Human nature and the so-called “laziness”, “magic bullet” and “complacency” genes plays a permissive role for allowing the disease to take hold.”
Probably sounds familiar right?
Personally, I don’t think Fuckarounditis isn’t really associated with a lack of intensity, more a lack of thought and purpose in the gym.
Most guys I know train hard, but for what?!
The effort isn’t the problem, the direction is.
WAAAY Too Much Information
This problem didn’t exist 20+ years ago. I mean, I wasn’t training then, but from what I can tell you only signed up for a gym if you had a specific goal that you wanted to achieve. It wasn’t a trendy or cool place to go, it was often a very scary place, because the guys in there were intense in their pursuit of their goals.
Go to a gym now and every other person is filming themselves (more on this later) and/or doing random shit because that’s what they saw online or in a magazine.
Straight away that makes me want to revisit purpose, are you doing that stuff with a specific purpose in mind? Or is it just because it’s something to do?
When I say specific purpose I don’t mean “engage the muscles of the inner-chest”, I mean “I want to develop my upper body so that I can be strong in contact situations” or even “I want bigger delts so that in the summer I look better in a tank top”.
The guy on Instagram who posted his workout is probably not trying to achieve the exact same thing as you.
In fact, whilst most Social Media celebs are training with a purpose in mind, that purpose is actually just:
Produce more content > get more exposure > get more sponsors > get paid.
Note: Sure, they also want to do something physical, but if they have a huge following, it’s usually because they look good.
And if they look good, it’s usually because they have great genetics.
And the training required to maintain physique/performance is a fraction of the training required to progress physique/performance (in terms of volume, frequency, intensity and specificity).
So whilst this training is perfect for these people, it probably sucks for you.
I remember when I first got a year’s subscription to Men’s Fitness magazine, I think after 3 months I stopped reading them. I found it absurd that they had to come out with new information every month, some of which even contradicting what they’d printed in the previous issue.
In addition, every workout told me that I had to do it for 4-8 weeks, with 3-4 programs in each edition there just simply wasn’t the time to implement this stuff.
Now we have new Instagram posts of information and programs every single day. Even multiple times a day.
There is simply no way that you need this amount of information to reach your goals.
Note: this is why I said earlier about giving tips not really helping… We’ve got more information than ever, but are we actually reaching out goals?!
The search for Instant Gratification
Another issue that stems from social media is the pursuit of instant gratification. People aren’t willing to spend a lot of time working on their weaknesses, instead just focussing on the things they are already good at.
In order to be satisfied with your progress, you should be acknowledging and working towards your weaknesses.
If you’ve set yourself the right goals, you will have analysed your weaknesses that are holding you back, and understood a basic idea of what you need to do to work on them. This could look like any of the following:
Strong as hell but struggle to get around the pitch? You probably need to work your conditioning.
Fit but sometimes lose out in contact situations? Quit the circuit training and focus on building muscle.
Slow? Work on your speed?
Strong squatter but overweight? Ease up on the squats and work on your diet.
Again, this isn’t easy to do. You have to do some serious ego checking, but this is what you need. Remember – tough love.
Most people won’t do this because the battle to get to the gym can be hard if you don’t have a purpose. And to reward themselves for winning that battle, they let themselves “show off” or even just feel comfortable by doing the stuff that they’re already good at… giving them some sweet instant gratification.
My favourite quote recently is
“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a month, and underestimate what they can achieve in a year”
In researching that quote for this article I found out it’s wrong, but I don’t care – it’s the truth, particularly for this situation.
There appears to be a never-ending cycle of people trying to achieve too much in the gym too soon, causing them to either fail and quit, or burn out, causing them to take a significant amount of time away from this pursuit, causing them to want to achieve too much too soon when they do go back…. And the cycle never ends.
This, again, stems from having no real purpose to it all.
If you’re following a “add 20lbs to your bench because why-the-fuck-not” program because you saw it in a magazine, you probably don’t care when you give it up.
However, if you set yourself the meaningful goal of being able to enjoy the game you love more, or to add muscle to boost your confidence in life, then it becomes more jarring to you if you stop.
I also want to point out here that “giving up” can often be interchangeable with “switching it up”.
This is probably the thing I’ve been most guilty of in my personal journey.
I can give you almost infinite examples of situations where I would set myself a ridiculous goal (that I didn’t care about too much) and a routine to achieve it, only to abandon that goal and routine in favour of something else.
Essentially what I was doing was constantly giving up, only by “switching it up” I avoided the pain of admitting that failure, which meant I didn’t learn from it.
This also meant that I never really made any long-term progress, because I had no long-term focus, I was just constantly “busy”.
Understanding this has helped me achieve so much with my own training (the most obvious visual is below, but that’s just scratching the surface), and has shaped how I train all my athletes
This is not to be confused with actual smart “periodisation” where you systematically work through routines in order to achieve several smaller goals in pursuit of achieving that underlying long-term goal.
Making progress towards a big goal over the long-term does require a bit of planning, but really it is remarkably simple.
In my view, it’s really the only way to progress at anything, and it’s done with the following steps:
- You look at what you want to achieve. You look deep and make it as specific and meaningful as possible. Ideally you have finishing dates and a definitive way that you can know whether you have achieved it.
If you’re here, there’s a good chance you want to improve your rugby game, or look better. What does that actually look like?
Why do you want this?
What does this mean to you?
- You work backwards from that goal to where you are now, identifying all that you need to do in order to achieve it.
What will you need to have done between now and then to make you feel different and achieve your goals?
Remember, there will be some change – otherwise you’d have accomplished them already
- Set yourself some smaller goals that you should be able to achieve along the way. If you have several different things that you need to work on, you give them all specific times that you will dedicate to them, potentially using them as way-points themselves.
- Start. Don’t fuck around waiting for it to be perfect, just get executing.
One Question To Solve It All
Here comes the 5th and final step. The one question.
Something I want you to ask yourself on a regular basis.
Are you satisfied with your progress?
If you are – awesome!
If not, why not? What do you specifically need to improve?
Once you answer this, then work on it
Summary – The Truth
Most guys’ answer to the one question is no.
But it’s a “no” that is buried deep beneath a huge pile of constant distraction, hard work, ego and instant gratification.
Follow the above methods and you’ll be able to slice through all that noise and once and for all, start properly training.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear any questions, comments or feedback you have and love responding to them all personally. The best place is to ask in this post on the Rugby Muscle Athletes Facebook group.
Oh and before you go
Do you have a friend who would like to read this?
Share this post with them, I’d love to hear what they think.