“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream;
not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole Franc
“Whosoever Asserts Himself Has Will Power
Whosoever Is Self-Sufficient Is Rich.”
A system is a set of components to draw from and adapt as a way of accomplishing measurable goals through proven means to reach an expected outcome.
To “assert” yourself is to go to the field or the gym alone, and perform your workout, without worrying how much anyone sees you sweat or hears you scream. You build “will power” by going against it when you don’t feel like training, and train anyway. By “asserting” yourself time and time again, facing the same challenges in the discipline you’ve chosen, your “will” soon takes that insurmountable weight, that monotonous run, that impossible pose, and conquers it through perseverance. As you get stronger, so too does your will and as your will gets stronger, so too do you.
To grow “rich” in self-sufficiency is to face the many trials of training and continuously prove to your mind that “you can, you can, you can,” erasing all doubts with results. To be “self-sufficient” is to know how to make up a workout with little or no equipment, but still make the exercise challenging. By exhibiting “will power” and becoming “self-sufficient” you develop a system, a workout repertoire, a health regimen, and the ways and means for you to improve your game and your life.
A system gives you guidelines to follow, to check and balance your training on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. But it is not set in stone. Adaptation must be allowed to compensate for changes that occur along the way.
You use a system for eating, for training, for rest. You need to follow some type of guidelines for a certain period of time, then keep what works and discard what doesn’t. The system is simply your way of gathering results to make your training, body, life and sport measurably better. The system always works toward improvement, despite having to break things down to get to there.
Following a system means facing the day with the knowledge that you will do something to work on your fitness on that day, and that what you set yourself up to accomplish will be done. Day 2 builds on day 1. You find you did too much or not enough, and then find the balance of what can be done on the next workout. When you go back the next week, increase the duration or the intensity. Duration will increase stamina and endurance, while intensity will increase size, shape and speed. Both duration and intensity are necessary to get the most out of your workouts, but must be done with balance.
THE TIMELINE SYSTEM
Draw a timeline. Write, “YOU ARE HERE”, on the far left end of it. On the right side of the timeline write, “GOAL”. Write it in big, standout lettering. Make it noticeable. One word, “GOAL”. At half the distance between the two ends write, “CHECKPOINT”.
Record your current statistics at the left end under “YOU ARE HERE;” what is your current weight, strength, weakness, limitation and whatever else you feel will nail down exactly where you stand on this date, your initial starting date. If you’re 40 pounds overweight, admit it; inflexible, state it; or if you are already exercising once or twice a week, record the good with the bad. Make it an absolutely critical assessment.
At the checkpoint, record, right now, how much you feel you can honestly move toward your goal in that allotted time. Unrealistic goals don’t happen. Make it a practical, reasonable, tangent idea or vision you can hold on to and reach. If that checkpoint goal is possible, than the end goal becomes even more possible.
The “End Goal” is the one you can exaggerate because what often happens is you surpass it prior to the actual date. If you work with conviction and perseverance toward that end goal, 10 out of 11 times, you reach it. All you need to add is your willingness through “self-sufficient willpower.” Assert your will to be better and you will be better.
THE WORKOUT SYSTEM
Do 2 sets of 11 repetitions of multiple joint warm ups such as Dips for chest, Lunges for legs and Pull Ups for back. Then, pick a major exercise from each body part section. Choose a multiple-joint movement, such as the Bench Press for chest; the Squat for legs or Barbell Rows for back.
4 sets of 11 repetitions to build, with a compound, multiple joint movement
Perform 4 x 11 reps of this first compound movement, as heavy as possible with strict form. Form shapes the muscle, not the weight. Do the first exercise with a weight heavy enough to challenge yourself for 11 repetitions. If you make 11 reps, add weight the second set, subtract weight if you don’t. If you make it to 11 reps again on the second set, add a little more weight for the third and fourth sets, again, only if perfect form and control are held throughout the repetitions. Each week, the starting set weight can be increased as well as each subsequent set. This means progress.
When you get sloppy, stop, drop weight, or rest for 20 seconds and then complete the set. Always get all the repetitions regardless of how much weight you must drop to get there. This is a way of telling your muscles you are not giving in or quitting. Persevere and the next time you’ll take less stops to get to 11. You should push to finish but don’t let the movement get sloppy or ruin good, strict form. Soon, there will be no stops and you’ll be adding weight. You’ll know then the System is working.
4 sets for the same bodypart from another angle
Now choose a second exercise that incorporates the same body part, but from a different angle; Incline or Decline Bench Press for chest; Leg Press or Lunges for legs; Seated Pulley Rows or Pull Downs for back. This is your second movement from a different angle for 4 x 11 repetitions. Use the same guidelines to add weight each set.
3 sets of a specific movement to shape and refine with added concentration
The third movement will be more specific to the particular bodypart you’re working. Specific movements target the one muscle group and usually involve single-joint exercises, isolating the muscle so that only that muscle is doing the work. Dumbbell Flies or Cable Crossovers for chest, with arms in a slightly bent but locked in position so the pectorals are engaged in the movement exclusively; Leg Curls or Extensions for legs, where the quadriceps and hamstrings do the majority of the work; and Single Arm Dumbbell Rows, as an example, though working any part of the back usually requires other joint involvement due to the large range of motion necessary for proper back training.
THE GOAL SYSTEM
When beginning a strength training program, the first goals usually involve disciplining your body to go to the gym a certain number of days in a row and doing certain required movements a certain number of times. Once you become familiar with the workout regimens, you start adding weight or repetition goals, performance goals, timed goals, nutrition goals and aesthetic goals.
The experience of feeling the changes your body is going through accelerate the type and number of possibilities, hence goals, you set for yourself. Momentum creates outcomes often over and above the original plans and motivation comes easier when visible results are confirmed and felt through feedback by yourself and others who notice the transformations taking place. The mind feeds on positive reinforcement, enabling the body to transcend any limiting ideals that may stand in the way. You can pat or smack a dog. He’ll stretch to receive one thing while cowering from the other.
We are the same animals when noticing if anyone notices, or shirking away when wishing to be avoided or invisible. Please yourself first, then notice the pleasant effect it has on others.
The rewards found in goal achievement should first and foremost be for the self-development and preservation of you and your body toward your goal or sport. The recognition of others is secondary and should never be the means for what we set out to achieve, doing things to spite or disprove an opinion not of our own. Passion and energy drive the athlete, while anger and envy are the brakes that literally break the athlete’s drive. Fire is beneficial only when it is controlled, directed and properly utilized. With goals, the metaphoric fire burns clean and steadily, consuming only what it needs rather than everything in its path, which ultimately leads to distinction instead of destruction.