Can’t or Won’t

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Today I have another guest post from personal trainer Mike Anderson.  He did such a good job with his last installment, that I invited him back for round two.

This time around, he’s kinda angry (and I like it!)

We’ve all heard it a million times; hell, most of us have said it that many times. I just can’t do that!

As a trainer, I hear this way more than I’d like to admit to.

 I just can’t do another rep!

 A 7 a.m. session? I can’t wake up that early!

 Stop eating muffins and eat more meat?? I just can’t!

The more I hear it, the more I want to drop a kettlebell on my own balls. Is it really something you can’t do? Or is it something that you’re not willing to do?

This is really frustrating to hear because people come to me to get results. Nobody pays a trainer to stay exactly the same; everybody wants to improve something. Whether it’s to get rid of their low back pain, get stronger or get abZ you can bounce a quarter off, of people want results.

Why, then, are you not willing to do what it takes to get those results?

Get your ass out of bed and go to the gym. Go for a walk – do something!  I don’t care. The extra hour of sleep in the morning isn’t going to make a difference anyway; if you’re that tired, go to bed earlier.

Dan John always says that the hours of sleep you get before midnight are more important than the ones after midnight. (There’s no science to that, but if Coach John says it, it’s got to be true.)

Note(s) from TG:

1.  For those who aren’t familiar with Dan John (shame on you), HERE’s a post I wrote a while back highlighting some of his more memorable quotes from his book Never Let Go – which is required reading for ANY fitness professional (or anyone remotely interested in fitness for that matter).

2.  There actually is some solid research backing the whole notion of getting more sleep BEFORE the hours of midnight as opposed to after.  While I don’t have any studies to link to offhand, myself, Eric Cressey, Dan John, and a host of other coaches often state to our athletes and clients that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after.

Of course this isn’t to say that this applies to everyone, and maybe even more pertinent to the conversation is that it’s more important to go to bed and wake at the same time each and every day depending on body’s “internal clock.”

They say that variety is spice of life.  If you’re taking cooking classes or practicing the Kama Sutra, this is true.  BOM CHICKA BOM BOM.  Sooooooooooo, true.

With regards to sleep, however, you’re much better off staying the course and being consistent with your sleep patterns than to throw your body a curveball and head to bed and wake up at different hours throughout the week. 

Okay, enough with me, lets get back to Mike’s epic rant.

Just work hard! Your trainer should know your limits and the right way to push you; if he or she doesn’t get a new trainer.

Another option would be to find a good training partner, because, you know, training on your own kind of sucks.

A good training partner can make a world of difference in the way you work out.

Stop eating like a child – eat like a grown up! Seriously, if there’s anything that makes me want to jump off a cliff more it’s when I hear a client say this:  “I just don’t have the time to cook”

This a total bullshit excuse. Everybody is busy (yet we somehow manage to find an average of 4.5 hours PER DAY to sit in front of the television). Everyone has friends, family and a career to deal with. If your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, you must find the time to spend in the kitchen cooking your meals. You don’t have to be Julia Childs either; every meal doesn’t have to be five courses. Make something simple that tastes good and fuels your body.

Try. Just try! The worst is when someone says “I can’t do that” without even trying. How do you know what you can or cannot do? The limits to what you can do are set only by your mind; if you just try I bet you’ll surprise yourself with what you’re actually capable of.

Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

Author Bio:  Mike is a Boston area personal trainer and currently interning with Boston University Strength and Conditioning. Mike is also finishing his degree in Exercise and Health Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He loves bacon, beer and his 7 year old pit bull Lexi. You can reach him with any questions, comments or notes of affection at You can also visit his website:


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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • Mike A.

    Thanks, TG! 1) I’m going to have to find that sleep research 2) apparently GIF files don’t work on your site.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Anytime my man. You did a great job with both posts. Looking forward to more to come….;o)

  • Rob

    Try Harder- that’s my favorite.
    Excellent voice, I enjoyed reading this a lot.

  • Alison Minton

    Nice post, Mike!

    • Mike A.

      thanks ali 🙂

  • R. Smith


    I’ve begun to realize that some people just don’t want it bad enough.
    You have to, as Mike makes clear with this piece, try.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad you liked it Ronell. We should be seeing more from Mike down the road. He’s like my Padwan.

  • I’ve had this chat a few times. There is a difference between being committed to the process of.. whatever (being awesome) and just wanting the end results. No grown person expects their car to just transform from a beater conversion van to a high performance sports car over night. That would take a crap ton of work. somehow with our bodies it’s just supposed to magically happen, because.. science? This is a great point, and one overlooked by most clients and too many trainers.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I LOVE your analogies. I’m stealing that one!

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  • Nick

    I’m going to try sleeping from 8pm-midnight to put this sleep hypothesis to the test.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Challenge accepted…..;o)

  • Tony,

    I second the fact the sleep before midnight is far more important… After my son was born I couldn’t figure out how the little F*er could wake up to early and drain the ever loving life out of new and vulnerable parents.

    That is when my epiphany happened and I started treating it like my days in basic training:

    Not in the sense I made the little tike do push-ups and beat his face (Note: I didn’t really have a baby punch himself in his own face. Its just a military saying.)

    Only to hit the sack ALOT earlier and make sure I was in bed 10pm with no outside stimulus at all even my wife (cause it makes your legs weak for squats).

    The other thing I have found really helpful was changing the type of my alarm that sounded like a nuclear meltdown and had me ducking for cover. Instead I opted for a nice soft gentle “Smart” alarm the wakes you up based on your sleep cycle. (Example: Iphone app – Sleep Cycle) –> It goes without saying get your ass up at the same time everyday and then your good.

    I also would like to say from my 12+ years in the military, when it comes to waking up early you have to make sure you wake before your sense of self cherishing does. Also helps to start quoting your favorite Full Metal Jacked lines. People will think your crazy, but no one ever messes with the crazy guy! 🙂


    • TonyGentilcore

      EXCELLENT point about the alarm Mike. We have an alarm that wakes us up with either the sound of water falling or bird chirping. Waaaaaaaaaaay better than the heart attack of the buzzer would make.

  • OB

    “I can’t” means “I choose not to try”.

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