What I Do When I Feel Stale

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Two important notes before we get started:

1.  Today is the last day you can purchase the Peak Performance Diet and Training Summit at its sale price.  Once the clock strikes midnight tonight (11/19), Joe and Dr. Mike are increasing the price $100, and you’ll be sad.   And while I’m sure many are balking at the price, if you look at it as more of an investment rather than an expense, you’ll see that it’s definitely worth every cent.

2.  Along the same lines, today is also the last day you can purchase Muscle Imbalances Revealed – Upper Body Re-Loaded at it’s sale price of 47% off.  NINE additions were added on top of the already stellar content, and now it’s available in DVD format, too!  Also, for those who don’t know, MIRU is my very first product and I’m damn proud of it.  So what I’m trying to say is:  if you don’t buy it, you’re banned from this site.  Well, not really.  But kinda.

With that out of the way, lets get to today’s content.

Full disclosure:  I “stole” this blog idea from Mike Reinold.  He wrote a similar post a few weeks ago and I liked it so much I thought I’d use it myself.  Trust me, he won’t mind.  I think.

Whether it’s training, nutrition, how I coach/cue clients, trying to come up with content for blogs and articles, or writing programs, sometimes I just feel stale or otherwise like I’m walking in mud that’s knee deep.

What follows are some things that help me get my mojo back.

1.  Have Tony Time.  Okay, get your mind out of the gutter…(wink).  I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m an introvert at heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love being sociable, but there comes a time where I reach my threshold and I just need to step away from the chaos and have a little “me” time.

Seemingly, I’m “on” all the time.  There are always programs that need to be written; e-mails that need to be answered; clients that need to be coached; articles that have deadlines; and meatloaf sandwiches that need to be eaten.

We close early on Fridays, and since I get home relatively early, I tend to use Friday night as my wild-card night.  Or Tony Time, as I like to call it. Most often, I use it as a night to head down to my favorite hang-out spot and just catch up on some reading.

I may spend an hour reading some blogs:  Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Nia Shanks, John Romaniello, Dean Somerset, Lee Boyce, to name a few.  If anything, reading what other people in the industry are doing or what they’re currently thinking about is an easy way to get my own juices flowing.

Conversely, I may just spend my time reading for the sake of reading. As much as I love reading about strength and conditioning, sometimes it makes my head hurt. There’s this really cool bookstore in my neighborhood that’s like a five-minute walk from my apartment, and it’s not at all uncommon for me to walk in, grab a chair, and spend the next 2-3 hours reading the Kama Sutra or something.

Hahaha. Okay, that doesn’t really happen.** But I do spend a lot of time there reading various books, and I always walk back home feeling re-charged and ready to attack the road a head.

2.  Watch other coaches.  I don’t do this nearly as often I would like, but it stands to reason that one of the easiest ways to get out of a rut is to actually go see what other coaches are doing with their athletes. I’m lucky in that I live in a major city with 50-70 schools in the area. As an example, Mike Boyle is literally right down the street at Boston University where he’s the head strength for the men’s hockey team.

Likewise, I bumped into Art Horne, head athletic trainer and strength coach at Northeastern University, two weeks ago, and he invited me to stop by and observe anytime I wanted.  Given it’s roughly a 10-15 minute walk away, I’m totally going to do it.

The point is, try to make a concerted effort to go see other coaches in action.  Networking is something that’s crucial for professional development, and it’s always cool to talk shop with other coaches and pick their brains.

A small piece of advice, though.  You have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth……….use them in that order.

About a month ago we had a woman come in to OBSERVE and I actually saw her attempt to coach one of our athletes out of the blue.

Unless asked, that’s a big no-no.  Not only that, she was all up in every coach’s grill asking questions and just being annoying when the place was jammed packed with athletes. I was thiiiiiis close to asking her to leave, but didn’t want to make a scene. Thankfully she wasn’t there for too long, but it definitely gave some food for thought with regards to what NOT to do when you go observe at another facility.

Rule of thumb:  don’t suck! Go and watch.  Ask questions when the time is right.  And stay out of the way!

3.  Fajita night.  Sometimes I just need to turn my brain off and sit on a couch with Lisa and eat fajitas.  We like to have “date night” every now and again where we make our own fajitas and then pop whatever came in the mail through Netflix into the DVD player.

Who says romance is dead?

4.  Hill Sprints.  Arguably one of my favorite forms of exercise.  No equipment needed other than a hill and a pair of shoes.  And maybe a pair of pants.  Maybe.

Whenever I have a case of writer’s block or just feel like a pile of poop, I simply walk outside and perform some hill sprints, and instantly feel better.

Just exercise.  Just get up a move for the love of god!  Lift heavy things.  I don’t care: deadlift your couch!  Exercise has been proven to improve cognitive function and one’s sense of badassery.

5.  Write s*** down.  For the past 4-5 weeks, I’ve been in a massive training slump.  In a nutshell, I’d show up to the facility, decide what didn’t hurt, and then toss some weight around.  It sucked donkey balls, and my enthusiasm to train was pretty much non-existent.

Given I had no set plan in place, this shouldn’t come as any surprise.  I know, I know………I’m always preaching the importance of having a plan in place.  What can I say:  I was in a rut.

Last weekend, though, I decided to nip things in the bud and actually write down my next four-weeks of programming.  Wouldn’t you know it:  this week has been a SOLID week of training.

What’s more, there’s an old saying that states the easiest way to increase your wealth by $25,000 is to write down FIVE things you need to do TODAY.  Then, do them.

Easy enough.  Write it down.  It holds you more accountable.

6.  When all else fails – Inject Spike into my left ventricle. 

Works every time.

What do you do when you feel stale?  Share your thoughts below

** or does it?

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  • Tony,

    Thanks for the post. I need to put some priority to recharging on occasion myself.

    Slightly on topic:
    Wendler is always pushing hill sprints as well. I’ve been wanting to give them a try but the ‘hill’ part is my problem. The closest I can find are bayous (fancy name for drainage ditchs) and they seem too short to be effective. So, my question is, what’s the shortest sprint time that would actually accomplish what hill sprints are supposed to do? I can get from base to the top in 6-8 strides which I don’t think would even take 10 seconds.

    I’ve also been looking for stadium stairs but I’d rather fall on a hill than stairs if I can help it.

  • J.B.

    Having a kid is the greatest thing I have ever done, but as an introvert myself it’s exhausting. Last night I went out on a misty Seattle night and did some hill sprints. It’s like a reboot, I’m like a new man. You have to make time for yourself, and watching jersey shore is not on the same level as reading a book, or going out in the dark and sprinting yourself into a hypoxic stupor.
    Having visited you guys was a major catalyst in wanting to become a better coach, and helped me define what it means to be a professional in this industry, and it’s very cool that you just let schlubs like me come in and watch and ask questions.

  • Damon Brobst

    Great stuff Tony. We all can use a little “jolt” of something to get us back to the level of awesomeness we’ve become accustom to living.

    Here are some things I do:

    -Enter some form of competition. I know you despise long distance running, I do as well, but the warrior dash is a 3 mile run with some insane obstacles and lots of mud, I’m doing it on December 3rd. The “Got Total’ competition is at a near by crossfit gym, and it consists of a one rep max for a squat, shoulder press, and deadlift. That takes place December 17th. After beating myself up, I’ll take some to “regroup” then put a plan in place to better my best.

    -A quick beach getaway with the wife. Usually we pack up the bikes and dog and head down to Key West for a break from ordinary life and to devour some fresh seafood. After eating 200 lbs. of fish, shrimp, and oysters I’m ready to start lifting heavy things.

    -Attend a seminar. I just attended the ECA conference – Mike Boyle, Bill Sonnemaker, and Steve Cotter were speakers/presenters, it was a great learning experience.

  • Scott

    If I’m feeling particularly stale on a day when I’m suppose to train I just allow myself the time to feel stale and set a time for when I’m going to get over myself and get to work. Usually this means I’m tired and don’t want to train or just want to sleep. So I’ll tell myself to sleep or watch TV till 2:00 and then its time to get to work. Works pretty well if I can actually hold myself to it.

  • Anonymous

    This proves you truly are super human. Not many possess the ability to eat fajitas on a white sofa and live to tell about it. Great post!

  • Mike A.

    Step back, take a look at what you’re doing, and change it. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth (did Boyle say that?) Deadlift on Monday, instead of Thursday. Bench against bands, or with a board. Eat pasta for a week (carbo-loooooooooad). Or, the best…take a week off. Get some rest.

    p.s. maybe we will come do hills with you some day…

  • Tasha Brown

    Yes, I must find a hill – of course, I can only do this when the temps are above 70 degrees. :O But I will find a hill for these sprints, I will.

  • Lunacinderella

    Hill sprints sound awesome. When I read that part, my mouth started to water. Lol