Simple Is a Simple Does

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It all started with my girlfriend and I deciding to head out for a nice romantic evening of steak tips and watching some baseball at the local tavern, when out of no where eight time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman decided to show up and hit on Lisa.

In no uncertain terms, I told him to step off.  Words were exchanged, punches were thrown.  I don’t have to tell you the rest.

Then, on top of that, once outside the restaurant I spotted some orphaned kittens being harassed by a street gang.  Predictably, I stepped in armed only with a roll of quarters and Ronnie Coleman’s jawbone, and saved the day.

Long story short, while walking home afterwards, I rolled my ankle on the sidewalk, and subsequently I’m pretty banged up as a result.  And while I could sit here and continue to pretend that all of this actually happened, I’d be lying (but I think you figured that out already).  In reality, this was just a long-winded way of saying that I’m not writing a blog today.

Instead, I have a guest post from Jason Bonn who did such a good job of filling in a few weeks ago, that I had no reservations when he asked if he could give it another go around.


Ockham’s Razor

William of Ockham. “Who is that?” you ask. He’s likely the solution to your problems. Let me explain.

I’ve said it before how fortunate I am to be working with the crew at Cressey Performance. They’re always more than helpful to assist me in any way—whether it’s personal or professional. A recent conversation with Tony found us talking about, among other things, the deadlift.

The conversation started with me looking over Tony’s plan to get to a 600 lbs pull. This was of particular interest to me because I’ve been stuck at about the same pull for a while now and have a goal of getting to 500 lbs. Given the importance of this goal, I started to pick his brain a bit on things like: the role/purpose of specific assistance exercises, set/rep schemes, foot placement, etc…

Tony was more than helpful in explaining those relatively detailed things. However, what I failed to realize initially was that there was a repeated theme. He kept stating something that I didn’t pick up on until the end of the conversation: “More 90% lifts”.

Basically, what Tony was saying was that in order to lift heavier, I needed to start lifting heavier. You see, I had been lifting relatively heavy for a while, but using reps mainly in the 3-5 range. Once every few weeks, I’d go into 2 reps—that was about it.

To lift heavier, I needed to practice lifting heavier. So simple, but for whatever reason I kept missing it.

So why did I keep missing this seemingly simple answer? I honestly don’t know. I actually think part of me actually wanted some intricate answer to my obstacle.

Maybe it was because I wanted to think I was ‘different’ and that I needed some special protocol. Or that normal “rules” didn’t apply to me. Perhaps I thought I’d feel like an idiot if that were all it took.

But now that I really think about it, I don’t want a complex solution.

Who the hell wants complexity?

Consider this, would you rather have some sort of illness with the only remedy being some magical plant grown on top of Mt. Fuji? Or would you rather have the ‘cure’ be some rest & relaxation?  Preferrably with Mila Kunis feeding me grapes. I know what I’m choosing.

It all got me to thinking about what other areas of my life I had been bypassing the simpler solution for a more in depth one.

  • Perhaps the last time I struggle to drop fat, I didn’t need to get worked up over the insulin response of certain foods. I probably was just eating too much. (You can overeat quality food, ya know?)
  • Perhaps all I needed to do was just say “Hi. I’m Jay” to that girl. Maybe then the subsequent kick to my shins would’ve never happened.
  • Perhaps that student didn’t have a short attention span or a learning disorder. Maybe I just needed to move them closer to the front where they could see/hear better.

What you should do now:

Consider the places in your life where you seem to be stuck/having trouble. Now look to the simplest possible solution to fix it.

For example:

  • Not losing any weight? Maybe it’s not a thyroid issue. Maybe you don’t need carb/calorie cycling. Perhaps you’re just not in a calorie deficit via intake and/or expenditure.
  • Having a tough time going to sleep? Maybe you don’t need to supplement with Phosphatidylserine and/or ZMA. Maybe all you need is to stop watching TV and/or being on the computer directly before going to bed.
  • Can’t seem to get through to your co-worker? Maybe they’re not just being a jerk and/or ignoring you. Try speaking to them at a time when they’re not swamped with work.
  • Can’t get your client to respond? Instead of emailing them when their inbox is already constantly flooded try picking up the phone and calling.
  • Strength going down? Before constructing the “perfect” workout drink and knocking back 80g of sugar in a 4:1 ratio with hydrolyzed protein, look at how much volume you’re doing. Perhaps you’re missing the concept of competing demands.

Ockham’s Razor—with competing theories, the simplest one is best. Does this always hold true? No. There are definitely situations that can’t be fixed with a little tweak. However, I know that the next time my cable TV isn’t working, I won’t immediately throw a hissy fit and call the cable company to complain. I’ll check to see if it’s plugged in first.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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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.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • R Smith

    Dayum, Jason! William of Ockham? Not many can pull that one off, yet you did so flawlessly--and with purpose. Reminds me of the need to apply "simpler is better" in more areas of my life.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:43 am | Reply to this comment

  • Lisa V

    Jay, it might be time to start you own blog. Quit letting Tony mooch off of your talent (yeah, I might be feeling those 4 sets of 5 deadlifts and the prowler pushes today, thanks T). Jay, nice job as usual. Tony, I hope you're busy working on a "women specific" post.

    April 21, 2011 at 7:14 am | Reply to this comment

  • Roland

    I lift things up. I put them down.

    April 21, 2011 at 7:26 am | Reply to this comment

  • Laura

    Always a good reminder to go to the simple solution, paired with tackling one thing at a time rather than everything all at once.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:11 am | Reply to this comment

  • Rafe

    To expand upon your post a bit: The point of Ockham's Razor isn't that the simplest solution is usually correct but rather that when you don't know the solution, you should always eliminate the simplest possibilities first for reasons of efficiency. Given multiple possible solutions, trying the simplest first is the best way to avoid wasting time. I see this all the time in the world of software development. People see a problem and start wondering if the server isn't installed correctly or there's a bug in some application they're using rather than checking to make sure there aren't bugs in the code they just wrote. Ockham would tell them to look at their own code first.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:19 am | Reply to this comment

  • Krista Scott-Dixon

    "I said it was simple. Not easy." --Dan John I come away from this blog post humbled, Coach Jason.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am | Reply to this comment

  • Max Groszewski

    A perfect explanation of the KISS principle

    April 23, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Reply to this comment

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