Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
 
I’m always considering new ideas to help me get the most from my training. This week, I thought I’d share a few of them with you. I hope these ideas stimulate your thinking, generate some discussion, and help you make the best possible decisions.
 

Perfect Is the Enemy of Good

Progress and perfection are not synonyms. They both lead to improvement in theory, but progress is much more sustainable than perfection. In reality, you’ll improve if you consistently do things better - even if only slightly better.
 
Eating 250 calories less and burning 250 calories more each day (a relatively painless endeavor) results in losing roughly a pound a week. That’s 52 pounds a year. You can accomplish this while eating cookies every day if you want. It doesn’t require perfectionism.
 
In the same way:
  • Doing five minutes of mobility work each day will improve your mobility much more than not doing anything at all.
  • Doing a half-ass workout is dramatically more effective than skipping the gym altogether.
  • Allowing yourself to occasionally eat banned goodies might help you avoid a full-fledged binge and help you keep your nutrition on track. 
 
The amount of work and stress involved in trying to be perfect, or even close to it, will make you miserable. Make sure consistency is firmly in place before you try to further improve your behaviors. 
 

Not All Things Are of Equal Importance

Speaking of doing things just a little bit better than usual, an easy way to cheat the system is to learn to distinguish between high-payoff behaviors and lower-payoff habits and activities. Doing so adds a bit of leverage to your efforts. Here are just a few examples:
 
If fat loss is your objective, daily caloric intake is far more important than meal frequency or food quality. That’s not to say meal frequency and food quality don’t matter at all. It’s just that they don’t have nearly the same impact on fat loss as caloric intake.
 

"You'll improve if you consistently do things better-even if only slightly better. It doesn't require perfectionism."

If you’ve planned four heavy work sets for squats today, the first work set is responsible for probably 80 percent of the result you’ll get from all four sets. Again, this isn’t to say that the other sets don’t matter - it’s just that they don’t matter nearly as much. Notice how starkly this approach contrasts with perfectionism.
 
Within your training program, strive to identify areas of deficiency that impact your overall progress. Perhaps your lack of mobility prevents you from safely performing a number of highly beneficial exercises that would take you to the next level.
 
Along the same lines, which muscle groups or fitness characteristics are at a high level already, and could be put on the back burner in order to free up time and energy to address weaknesses?
 

You Aren't Working as Hard as You Think

When I’m not making the progress I’d like, I ask myself these questions:
  1. Is the problem that I’m working too hard, or not hard enough? 
  2. Is the problem that I don’t know what to do, or that I do know what to do, but I’m not doing it?

 

If you know you’re a hard-driving overachiever, go ahead and skip this one. But for the majority of us, it’s better to assume we’re not working as hard as we could or should be. For example, most people significantly underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how active they are
 
Deadlift Starting Position
 
If you find yourself facing similar conundrums in your training, I’ve had a successful online coaching service in place for several years now. This is a way for people to train under my direct supervision even if they aren’t local to me. If you’re ready to invest in yourself for 2016, I’d love to be on your team
 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 57,270lb (Last Week: 52,252lb)
 
Significant Lifts: 2.5” Deficit Deadlift - 365x10
 
I haven’t been working super hard the past few weeks, but I’m feeling healthy, which is a huge plus. Allowing myself a month of relatively unstructured training inspired me to explore some new exercises and training equipment, including dual low cable curls, knees to elbows, and the football bar.
 
I’ve also discovered the idea of squatting more frequently. Most of my weekly squat sessions are just a few sets of light goblet squats, but this practice has contributed to happier knees, for whatever reason. 
 
I’m planning to formalize my training cycle a bit starting on New Year’s (typical, right?), but I’m glad a took a month to just play around. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday, and as always, thanks for following along.

Monday, December 21, 2015

 
Bodyweight: 200.2lb
Volume: 8,300lb
 
Power Clean
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 88lb × 5
  • Set 3: 110lb × 3
  • Set 4: 132lb × 3
  • Set 5: 154lb × 1
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 30lb × 10
  • Set 2: 30lb × 10
  • Set 3: 30lb × 10
 
High Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 10
  • Set 3: 135lb × 5
  • Set 4: 185lb × 5
  • Set 5:205lb × 5
 
Leg Curl
  • Set 1: 70lb × 10
  • Set 2: 70lb × 10
  • Set 3: 70lb × 10
 
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
 
Bodyweight: 200.6lb
Volume: 24,310lb
 
 
Football Bar Bench 
  • Set 1: 40lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 130lb × 10
  • Set 4: 150lb × 10
  • Set 5: 150lb × 10
  • Set 6: 170lb × 8
  • Set 7: 150lb × 10
 
Seated Row
  • Set 1: 150lb × 10
  • Set 2: 165lb × 10
  • Set 3: 165lb × 10
  • Set 4: 165lb × 10
 
Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Set 1: 80lb × 10
  • Set 2: 110lb × 10
  • Set 3: 130lb × 10
  • Set 4: 130lb × 10
 
Dual Cable Low Cable Curl
  • Set 1: 80lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 90lb × 10
  • Set 4: 90lb × 10
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 50lb × 10
Notes: Two-second pauses at bottom and top
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 30lb × 10
  • Set 2: 30lb × 10
  • Set 3: 30lb × 10
 
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
Bodyweight: 202.2lb
Volume: 15,400lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 30lb × 10
  • Set 2: 30lb × 10
  • Set 3: 30lb × 10
 
2.5" Deficit Pull
  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 185lb × 10
  • Set 3: 225lb × 10
  • Set 4: 275lb × 10
  • Set 5: 315lb × 10
  • Set 6: 365lb × 10 (Video Below)
 
 
Hack Squat
Set 1: 45lb × 10
Set 2: 90lb × 10
Set 3: 115lb × 10
Set 4: 115lb × 10
 
Saturday, December 26, 2015
 
Bodyweight: 200lb
Volume: 9,260lb
 
Military Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 10
  • Set 3: 85lb × 10
  • Set 4: 95lb × 10
  • Set 5: 95lb × 8
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 30lb × 10
  • Set 2: 30lb × 10
  • Set 3: 30lb × 10
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 50lb × 10
  • Set 2: 50lb × 10
  • Set 3: 50lb × 10
  • Set 4: 50lb × 10
 
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 40lb × 10
  • Set 2: 50lb × 10
  • Set 3: 60lb × 10
  • Set 4: 60lb × 10
  • Set 5: 60lb × 10
 
Knees To Elbows
  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: 5 reps
 
Rusin Shoulder Warm Up
 
More Essential Training Concepts:
 
Photo courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.
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