If you are a fan of this newsletter or my Twitter feed or my Instagram story (that’s right, your boy is prolific on the socials!) you will probably recognize that I am a big believer of two things:
Clarity and Consistency.
I could have said simplicity and steadfastness but I think simplicity falls into clarity (at least if you are doing it right) and steadfastness is certainly a compelling synonym to consistency but also a mouthful. Plus who isn’t a fan of alliteration?
These north stars, clarity and consistency, are what corporations would call core values, psychologists might call guiding principles and philosophers refer to as a credo.
(“Credo” is Latin and translates directly to “I believe” for all you word origin nerds out there. I see you and acknowledge you.)
I refer to them as “the important two”.
Of course I have other beliefs and thoughts that drive my behavior but I am a big proponent of narrowing the list down to two.
Prior to my current Air Jordan 1, Red Wing, Chuck Taylor addiction I used to order often from an online shoe retailer called Zappos. Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, was a huge advocate for identifying and celebrating core values. So much so that he put all of his company’s core values on the shipping box that housed your new pair of Birkenstocks or Air Force Ones.
Unfortunately, editing was not one of Tony’s strengths and the list contained upwards of a dozen “core” values. If you stand for everything, ultimately you stand for nothing.
(SIDE NOTE: Zappos sold to Amazon years ago and Tony died tragically in 2020. However his book, “Delivering Happiness,” written while he was still CEO, is certainly worth reading if you are interested in corporate culture and customer service)
This is why I’ve narrowed my list to two which is in direct alignment with clarity.
Coming up with your own two guiding principles is a very powerful thing and I highly recommend you taking the time to do so.
(VULNERABILITY ALERT: I get a lot of value out of the responses I get to this newsletter. So if you have your “important two” figured out I’d love for you to hit reply and send them to me. It would mean a lot. Thank you. And, now, back to the meathead facade.)
Important twos don’t have to be limited to grandiose principles and ideas. They can just as easily be practical ways to bring focus and simplicity to any issue.
For example, an important two for a business might be “create a world class product and be profitable” or “disrupt the current state of discrimination that plagues the industry and treat every customer as if they were family”. An important two in parenting might be “Always treat my child fairly and allow them to create their own path in life”.
You get the idea.
It should not surprise you at all that, when it comes to training, I’ve also got an important two.
The first is that the training must support the desired goal. Also known as specificity.
I may be able to write you an incredible 16 month long training program that gets you your first 500 pound squat. However if you don’t have the desire to squat 500 pounds, I’d say that was a pretty shitty training program that wasted your time.
In our community we design programs that promote healthy movement, increased strength, improved work capacity (aka cardiovascular fitness) and improved body composition (increase lean muscle mass and reduce body fat). And the reason we do this is because those are the goals that align with our client’s desires.
If you wanted to learn jiu jitsu techniques or how to do a backflip or were interested in barefoot running, we aren’t the place for you.
However if you want to get strong, move well and look and feel fit and capable, we are trying to do that better than anyone else out there.
The training must support the goals.
Secondly is that the training must get more challenging over time.
This sounds simple but is actually very difficult to pull off. You must understand the different ways of manipulating challenge (increasing weight, reducing rest, adding reps, improving technique, moving weight faster, making sets longer just to name a few).
You must also understand that “over time” does not equate to linear. There must be periods where the difficulty does not increase. Or where you actually take a step back. Getting the push and pull of this correct is both an art and science and takes a lot of experience and observation.
But over a long enough time horizon you must make training more difficult in order for it to be most effective.
It is why, unfortunately for some, there is no hard end date when it comes to training. You don’t ever get to be Forrest Gump at the end of his run and say, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll just go home now.”
Are there other factors that are important when it comes to training? Certainly.
Are any more important than the two I’ve presented here? I’d be hard pressed to come up with something. But, hell, I’m wrong all the time. Maybe someone will have a better answer.
As a final plug for my “important two” I’d say any accomplishment would be difficult to achieve without clarity. And success is challenging enough when things are simple. There is no upside to adding unneeded layers of complexity.
If you’ve ever tried to set up a printer or cancel your cable subscription you know exactly what I’m talking about.