What’s Your Problem?

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Don’t worry I’m not trying to be confrontational or anything.

The title of today’s post is actually the same title as a chapter in the book I just finished, Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner (AKA:  the same guys who wrote Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, both of which are fantastic as well.)

The premise of the book is this:  to teach us how to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally – to think, that is, like a Freak.

It’s an informative, unconventional, and entertaining look into our psyche which helps to direct us into a more “forward” way of thinking by guiding us (the reader) through a series of steps to think more like a Freak.  Without giving away too much, some of the steps include:

– Putting away your moral compass.

– Learn to say “I don’t know.” (<— this is huge).

– Learn to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded.

– In addition to learning the upside of quitting.

As I alluded to above, one of the chapters is titled “What’s Your Problem?,” and in it they discuss, of all things, hot dog eating!

Again, without giving away too much, they go into the story of Takeru Kobayashi (Kobi), and how, back in 2001, he came out of complete obscurity and demolished the record for the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest.

At the time the record was 25 1/8 HDB (hot dog & bun) in twelve minutes.

Kobayashi obliterated the record by scarfing down 50! That’s more than four hot dogs and buns per minute for twelve straight minutes.

As the authors noted, to put this number into perspective:

“The 100-meter sprint record is as of this writing held by Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter at 9.58 seconds.

Even in such a brief race, Bolt often beats his rivals by a few strides; he is widely considered te best sprinter in history.  Before Bolt, the record was 9.74 seconds.

So his improvement was 1.6 percent.

If he had treated that record like Kobayashi treated his, Usain Bolt would have run the 100 meters in about 4.87 seconds, for an average speed of roughly 46 MPH.”

So, how did Kobayashi do it?  He asked the right question(s)!  He redefined the problem he was trying to solve!

Rather than take the same approach as his competitors and ask the question How do I eat more hot dogs?, he asked a different question: How do I make hot dogs easier to eat?

Literally he changed the game.  He came up with his own “technique” where, instead of eating the hot dog IN the bun, he was the first to take the hot dog out of the bun, break them in half, which made them easier to eat (he could fit more in his mouth), and then dip the buns in water afterwards and wolf them down.


All of this serves as an appropriate, albeit unexpected, segue into how this mindset can be applied to your health and fitness goals.

There are thousands if not millions of people out there embarking on specific goals related to their health or fitness. Some people are interested in fat loss or losing a few inches here or there, while others are interested in deadlifting a bulldozer.

Much like the examples given above, more often than not, the reason why most people end up failing or not making the progress they had hoped for is because they’re approaching the “problem” in the wrong fashion or asking the wrong questions.

I’m a strength guy, so lets use that as an example.

Raise your hand if you’ve been stuck – for months, maybe even years – at a certain number with one of the “big 3” lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift)?

No matter how many books you read, YouTube videos you watch, or Unicorns you pet, you can never seem to get over that hump.

The problem is that you’re stuck and seemingly never making progress. What questions are you asking?  If you’re like most it goes something like this:

Why can’t I bench press more weight?  When you should be asking, “Is my technique on point?  Maybe I’m making it harder for myself because I’m not arching my back enough?”

Why can’t I deadlift more weight? When you should be asking, “Maybe the deadlift variation I’ve been using all along isn’t suited for my body-type?

Why can’t I squat more weight? When you should be asking, “Maybe my hand position sucks?  Or, maybe I should follow something other than a 5×5 for a stretch?

There’s a lot to think about and consider, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and paralyzed by analysis.

Let me ask you this. What do you do when your roof has a hole in it?  You call the roofer. What do you do when it’s time do to your taxes?  You call your accountant.  If there’s something weird, and it don’t look good**, who ya gonna call?  Ghostbusters!!!

Why is it, then, when it comes to health and fitness (especially with regards to specific strength goals), do many people think “they know” and are willing to go about it alone?

The hardest person to train is yourself

This can’t be overstated.

Which is why, if getting stronger or improving your technique on the squat, bench press, and deadlift are a goal of yours, I can’t recommend  The Specialization Success Guide enough.

It’s a collaborative effort between my Cressey Sports Performance colleagues Greg Robins and Eric Cressey designed with the sole intention of answering questions and getting people hella strong.

In it, you’ll find specialization programs for the “Big 3” (squat, bench press, and deadlift) – you get to pick your poison – in addition to detailed videos on coaching cues for each, as well as an extensive video library showcasing all the exercises in the program.

I know this program works because I’ve seen it in action with numerous clients at the facility, and the results people have gotten have been amazing.

So how about nipping this “problem” of yours in the bud, stop asking the wrong questions, and let someone do the thinking for you?  The introductory offer is only going to last for a few days, so it’s best to take advantage of it while you can. Click below for more details.

—-> Building the Big 3 <—-

 ** And no, I’m not referring to that bowl of hummus you left in the back of your fridge for six months! Come on dude, that’s just gross.

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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