Success = Strength

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I woke up this morning with every intention of writing a post on something mind-blowing, like femoral acetabular impingement, and discussing some guidelines on how to assess and write effective programming around it, but then realized that it was waaaaaay too early to do that much thinking before I had the opportunity to inject any caffeine into my left ventricle.

Besides my good friend, Kevin Neeld, beat me to the punch and had some fantastic things to say on the topic HERE and HERE, so I figured there was no point in reinventing the wheel.  Also, there’s no way I could have possibly topped what Kevin had to say, sooooo, enjoy!

Understandably FAI isn’t everyone’s wheelhouse. Which is why today’s idea for a post took a dramatic turn when I opened up my email this morning.

As you might expect I receive my fair share of emails on a day to day basis.

Everything from “wet under the ears” trainers asking me for career advice to people asking how to program around certain injuries to random Saudi Princes gratuitously willing to fork over their millions.

Some people reach out to recommend books or movies, while others reach out just say “thanks for doing what you do.”  I like those kind of emails……..ahh-lawt.


As it happens I received a cool email this morning from someone I’ve never met in person nor ever heard from before today.

Quite simply all he did was shoot me a quick email to say how much he enjoyed reading my stuff and to share a quote from a book he’s reading which he felt I’d enjoy.

In his own words, “I found an amazing passage on why someone would want to be strong in my current reading, “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with his work, or with the Magical Realism genre, but this post struck me and I felt like it’s something that should be shared:

“The strength I’m looking for isn’t the kind where you win or lose. I’m not after a wall that’ll repel power coming from outside. What I want is the kind of strength to be able to ABSORB that outside power, to stand up to it. The strength to quietly endure things- unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.”

I felt that was a pretty profound passage.

Anyone who reads my stuff on a consistent basis knows I’m all about strength. I want, nay, I love….to make people strong

Hell, my tax returns every year say “strength coach,” so it’s obvious I’m a little biased.

But here’s the rub:  strength isn’t always about how much weight someone can pull off the floor or hoist off their chest or place on their shoulders. Nor is strength necessarily about training people till they blow a sphincter or splay out across the gym floor in a pool of sweat

Sure those can enter the conversation. But strength has a much broader umbrella than that and can mean something entirely different from one person to the next.

Take Bill for example. Bill is an 80-year old father of one our other clients who started training with us a few months ago. Bill suffered some health issues last year, and after more than a few nudges from his son, finally decided to give this whole “lifting weights doo-hickey nonsense” a try.

Understandably everything was Greek to him from the start.

Everything from a foam roller to a dumbbell was completely foreign to Bill, not to mention intimidating.

I remember one day I pointed towards the Prowler and told Bill that he was going to be pushing that bad boy down the turf – 40 yards.  He looked at me flabbergasted as if I just asked him to sprint up Mt. Everest.  He had similar reactions when I asked him to perform (elevated) push-ups, bodyweight box squats, and farmer carries.

He didn’t think he could do any of those things.  But I knew better.

It was my job to show Bill SUCCESS!

Having the ability to demonstrate success to clients is a trait I wish more trainers would grasp onto.  And I don’t mean quantifiable success like “x” number on a bench press or “x” inches off the waistline (although those certainly are warranted and respectable goals, and important to some).

Rather, I’m referring to having the ability to make a client feel successful regardless of their background or experience level.  Demonstrate to them QUALITATIVE markers that prove they CAN do something.

This can be strength too!

Yesterday Bill was handed a new program. Each program he’s started has included 1-2 “new” exercises that (progressively) challenge him in different ways.

Yesterday happened to include a 1-legged hip hinge on the docket. It wasn’t easy for Bill. And I’d garner a guess that he was thiiiis close to scissor kicking Keifer (who was coaching Bill) in the face out of frustration.

But what helped Bill tremendously – and something he brought up himself – was the fact that the (new) exercise was paired with something he knew he could dominate (push-ups).

Again, my objective is to challenge my clients, but not at the expense of making them feel defeated 24/7.  That, to Bill, more often than not, is strength.

Knowing that he can do “stuff” and that he can persevere, regardless of what’s thrown his way.

To that end, I’ll end with another quote from the same person who sent the original email that spurned this conversation:

“You guys at CP discuss the quiet confidence that come from training for strength instead of size, but I think that Murakami’s Kafka really expounds on that idea, bringing the purpose of strength from a physical (aggressive?) attribute to one that leads to a great deal of self-assurance in the ability to cope with whatever may arise. Instead of walling one’s self off from any and all comers, a strong person knows they’re able to accept whatever may come and make adjustments without losing themselves.”

Think about that for a few moments and let it sink in.

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.

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