Improving performance… at everything

A Simple Way to Increase the Total Number of Push-Ups and Chin-Ups You Can Perform.

I really like Tony Gentilcore’s philosophy regarding strength training and fitness, and I love that he’s almost as snarky as I am in the process. The linked blog post is a great one for anyone who is working at improving performance with their fitness. So, yeah, read it.

But here’s the thing – Why is this something we have to be instructed on? What I’m saying is, when did it become a revelation that in order to be good at something you need to do that thing a lot?

I play the guitar and the bass, and I’m pretty darned good at both. When I first picked up a guitar when I was 11 I was terrible at it. I was still terrible at it two years later. In fact, I didn’t start being able to play well enough to not embarrass myself trying until I was 15 or 16 years old. And it’s not like the guitar sat in the corner collecting dust during those 4 or 5 years. I played every day, sometimes for hours and hours, and I sought out other people who played to show me what they knew so I could add that knowledge to my own.

improving performanceOn the opposite end, I play soccer at pick-up games every now and then and I’m just awful at it. But I’m not at all surprised by this. I played when I was a kid, and I played in some pick-up games here and there in college, and at various points throughout my life, but I’ve never spent hours and hours practicing my skills, so I, basically, don’t have any. I know how the game works, and I understand what I’m supposed to do on the field, but it’s pretty seldom that my body follows my wishes and executes anything resembling proper form.

Apply this to fitness or nutrition. If I had a dollar for every person I knew who told me they couldn’t do a pull-up I’d have many, many dollars. Duh. None of you are doing pull-ups, are you? Or how about that line I hear from my middle-aged friends, “I can’t run.” No shit? Really? When was the last time you ran?

And I kid you not, every cycling forum or message board I participate in will feature the following question at least once a week – “How do I get better at climbing?”

I love playing soccer, and one of these days I might actually become at least moderately good at it, or at least pretty good for an old guy. Every time I play I express my gratitude to the men and women who tolerated my poor performance that day on the pitch. So long as they’ll let me play with them, I’m in. And at every chance I get to absorb some knowledge about how to do something from someone else who has skills I aspire to, I dive in.

I sincerely believe there are no shortcuts. My life today is the one I built and strived for. It’s not an accident. It’s not chance. To be who you aspire to be you need to be willing to do the work, and to own each and every choice you’ve made along the way.

Pull-ups are hard. So is life.

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