Team,

By the power vested in me by the state of Pennsylvania, i declare this day ’13 Thursday’.  Do not ask why, simply accept that for the next ten minutes i am your master.

Pleasant dreams that I’ve been after? Well, you know from my other articles that i train to improve my body composition, resolve pain, and enhance performance.  You may also know that i truly enjoy music, ice hockey, comic books, and eating.  Why, just this afternoon i was listening to Megadeth, watching the news about the Philadelphia Flyers’ big moves, and eating what will be forever known as “Das Omelett”.

With the news i received from frankie Faires*, my determination to eat Das Omelett, and the Flyers’ power-moves, as well as the straight up heavy metal bender i have been on these last few days [when it’s not Hank Williams, it’s metal], i chose to hit the rest button and catch a nap.  Something i never, ever do.  I do not nap.

And that is the subject of today’s post: “Breaking associations with the minimal effective amount of variety”.  Or, how to ‘change it up’ without fucking it all up.

And this is about me, not about anyone else.  My needs, not yours.  So if you are reading this, and you would like to alter your own patterns for the sake of potential improvements, please do so, yet not with my outcome in mind.  Have you ever heard or read the words ‘Results Not Typical’?  That’s me, I’m Big Will, my results are only typical for me

Before i shipped out to recruit training in 1997 i was in a car accident.  I know now, after years of anger, that this was the most important thing that has ever happened to me.  No other event has resonated this long or affected the chronology of my life as much.  The injuries i sustained were minor in the relative sense, yet exacerbated a shoulder  injury from my 1995 car accident and were further complicated by my next car accident in 2001.  BOO HOO!

The time i spent on the couch recovering from that accident in ’97 led me to draw the association of ‘being on a routine’ to ‘fixing all of my problems’.  I honestly thought that, like a dog, i would be broken, rebuilt, and trained to motor through life like a clockwork orange.

Nope.

When i was on active duty, my problems were still there.  I was meritoriously promoted twice, but i got into a lot of trouble.  If you served in Charlie Company with me, you remember how fucked up i was when we got back from that first float with the 11th MEU.

When i got off active duty, my problems were still there.  And there was no Sgt. to tell me where to be or what to do.

Uh oh. . . .

And when i chose to live on my own, go to community college, work full time, and party every night, my problems were still there.

I added to each set of problems i was born with by cheating on my girlfriend, opting for hangovers in place of facing the day clear and fresh, and misusing my influence as a trainer to get other trainers to buy into a system i had never once questioned.

My bad. . . .

So, over time, i drew many, many associations to myself, and from myself to other situations.  For example [and let me tell you right now that this was all my fault, and no people named here are being blamed for how fucked up i actually am. . .except for my parents] by following The Warrior Diet, an awesome book about the history of eating and benefits of eating cycles, i associated large amounts of food with ‘the end of my day’.

Example, my main meal would come at the end of my day.  Within two hours i would be asleep.  When i began to use Metabolic Flexibility training to really take my physique to the next level [single digit body fat%, body weight consistently below 235lbs., women all over me] , i phased out many of the eating and training behaviors i built from years of strict Warrior Dieting.

Now, hear me, fothermuckers, there is nothing bad about the Warrior Diet.

However, i had to try something different.

Change it up.

Specialize my variety.

Create a more adaptable situation.

Or, in keeping with the theme of the language i speak with my fellow Gym Movement Biomechanics Coaches, i broke the associations.

I would eat a big meal and then relax, usually into sleep.

I would associate fasting with daylight, and eating with nighttime.  I associated a full belly with laying down, reading, watching a movie, etc.

I trained myself to beleive that if i had a full belly, my day was over.  This was a very tough behavior for me to break.  And do you know how i broke it?  By applying the minimal effective amount of alteration each time i chose to work on it.  How did i know i was using the mEA?

Because each successive time i tried to modify the behavior, i accomplished more.

After dinner i would clean my apartment.  After dinner i would go out with friends [i never go out anymore].  After my main meal i would walk Big Al.  After i stuffed my fat face i would go to the gym.

I can not convey to you how hard this is for me sometimes, to visit the gym at night, after eating, and train.

But each time i try it, i win.

So, this is the premier example of how i am breaking associations i’ve built.  12 other examples include:

-I folded up and put away many of my black t-shirts that feature skulls and demons getting blowjobs

-I wear as much light colored clothing as i can

-I work out in running shoes from time to time

-I do not shave every day

-I do not make my bed every morning [this still fucks me up royally]

-I purchased competition style kettlebells, and forgo training snatches or push presses with any RKC bells

-I have inserted certain words back into my vocabulary that i eliminated because an ex-GF asked me not to use them

-And, get ready for too much information. . .i began to wear underwear.  If you want to know why this is important, email me

-I am working every day to predict better, and to perform in a manner that affects everyone in a less bombastic fashion than my personality is known for 😉

-My performance at Trader Joe’s has brought great things back into my life, and the job is not placing me in pain

-With the arrival of Big Al, the dog my attorney helped me rescue, i have experienced great joy and have slept much better than i ever have.  My hairy amigo sends me good vibes as he sleeps in his bed next to mine

*I have successfully completed the requirements to function as a qualified and educated Gym Movement Biomehcanics Coach

And there you have 13 examples of how i am gunning for “better” on this Thursday in June.  Today was a big day, a great day, and i hope you made note of what happened with you as well.  Here is your parting thought.

Since Adam Glass encouraged me to revisit Metallica, i have experienced great things with regard to music appreciation.  Watching the 2004 documentary film “Some Kind Of Monster” last night, for the first time in it’s entirety, i paid close attention to the scene capturing a brutally revealing therapy session with Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich, and excised band member Dave Mustaine.  Dave Mustaine is an excellent guitarist, well trained and creative.  When his partying got him kicked out of Metallica in 1982, he formed his own band “Megadeth”.  They became, effectively the second most popular heavy metal band of the 1980s.  In fact, until Pantera came around, most people considered Megadeth and Slayer to be equal in the shadow of metal’s four headed giant, Metallica.

In the therapy scene, Dave Mustaine notes to his old friend/antagonist Lars that “most people would consider my backfire* a complete success” *[getting kicked out of Metallica, number one worldwide grossing heavy band of all time].  Yet, he goes on to say that he wishes they had asked him to go to AA instead of kicking him out, and that he was not happy being number two.

Now, that video was filmed 9 years ago, and i do believe that Dave has changed his views, and looks upon his life and his body of work with Megadeth as a win.  That is what i want to believe, any way.  For though he could have made more money with Metallica, and possibly carved a better reputation, there are no alternatives.  There is only what happened, how well you understand it, and how prepared you are for the next decision.  Plus, Megadeth is fucking awesome.  Great album structure, killer solos and a huge body of work.

I woke up today thinking about how my coach Adam Glass talked to me on my last night in Minneapolis about a month ago.  In a 3 hour conversation, where he drank four Murphy’s Irish Stouts and spiraled the conversation like a fucking Tool concert, the ultimate message was this: Always look on the bright side of life.

“Will, you used to party like Axle Rose and cheat on your girlfriends? But you never got a DUI or went to jail, did you?”

“Will, you were in pain for a long time from those accidents, but you did not die in those car accidents.  That is a win.”

“Will, you may think that because of the shit you did in the past, and the things people know about you, that you will be considered a loser by those people forever.  But guess what, you are getting better in multiple measurable areas, and that makes you a winner.  All that fucked up shit you did, and that you went through, only makes you a loser if you perpetuate it”.

Waking up today, and thinking about that look on Dave Mustaine’s face, that naked, long overdue confession to the man who kicked him out of the number one grossing heavy band of all time before they even blew up, i soon thought of Adam.  Who told me that i can look at almost any situation and extract a manner in which i was made better.  Irrespective of happiness, sadness, pain, or pleasure associated with the situation, i should be able to turn anything into a win.

Dave Mustaine, i hope you know that too.

W2

Pain resolution.

One of my poetic devices.

Like an iron skillet, meat, and veggies.  Like a web page waiting to be filled with words.  Like a big morning poop after a night out at the steak house.

Lovely, i know.

But i am moving in a smooth fashion towards pain resolution.  Though i do have concerns, both legit and of the inane variety, about the resurgence of certain injuries, i am undoubtedly moving towards ‘better’.

From multiple angles, may i add?

While i may never know exactly what position i was in when i hit the freeway, i am certainly unlocking some of the riddles in my tissue.  What i can tell you is that the two most recent injuries are lingering the hardest [left ankle/right knee], and much of the pain from 1997’s single car accident is now easier to manage than ever before.

If i had the ability to critically think regarding 1997’s broken clavicle, broken scapula, and hammered sacra iliac joint before i shipped out to recruit training, i may have taken up yoga instead of running the hills of Camp Pendleton and making love to every set of free weights i ever met [never met a piece of iron i didn’t like, no lie].

Alas, there are no alternatives.  There is only what happened, what happened before, and what has come afterward [Dr. Eric Cobb via fF].

What i can say about what happened is that it was not as bad i may tell myself it was.  Also, with the damage done to both shoulders and my left hip, i never really had any business performing the bulk of my weight training from symmetrical positions of the feet or hands [hips and shoulders].  Nor should i have done thousands of pull ups from just one position [scapula and clavicle fractures both affecting everything about the shoulders, and the shoulder no doubt affecting everything else].  And i am sure you have read my feelings about the use of feed forward tension and breathing manipulation.

I don’t apply those methods anymore.

So i, wrapping up the years of  f^cking myself up, far beyond the immediate damage the 3 car wrecks in ’95, ’97, and ’01 pitched me, listened to a guy who asked me to listen to my body and got off the F train.

Do you want to know what else?

Something i learned about pain is clicking.  Dallas area Brazilian ju jitsu coach and lifelong athlete/pain receptacle frankie Faires taught the pain resolution course i attended in Minneapolis.

I will spare you the course abstract, and give you the point which i have begun to live, in my training.

‘When you can again do movements that had a history of messing you up, you will know that you are resolving pain’.

Ah ha!

So with my altered physical state after these car accidents, my “all or nothing” perspective on training, and my application of training methods which inflamed my existing injuries, i can identify some close associations to “what F’d me up”.

Pressing weight overhead, from a symmetrical foot position and using feed forward tension.

Pull ups, on a straight bar, with the symmetrical hand position, using feed forward tension, as well as the intent to clear the bar as high as i could.

Unrelated to my Hardstyle/high tension/power breathing training, is the ‘sleeper injury’, the incident i forget about often yet am reminded of every time my right knee shouts up at me.  The ridiculous ankle sprain in late December, 2007.  Running on a wonderfully soft track, for speed, in running shoes, at 270+ pounds of body weight.

Dum, de dum-dum [dumb!]

After this injury to my left ankle, my right knee has not been the same [yes, you read that correctly].

“Dude, get to the point, we know you have a long injury history!”

Sorry fans, i wanted to preface this point right here with an accurate depiction of how i made existing injuries worse.

I am running, and pressing, once again [smiles slyly, makes ladies fidget].

Yesterday i ran, and on Sunday i pressed.  And i am not in pain today.  Not anywhere other than my right knee.

I ran some steps, and did some serious speed training at the Philadelphia Sports Club of Ardmore.

On Sunday i pressed a dumbbell from an incline bench with some of the whackiest mechanics you have ever seen.

Yet, it was done.  Without pain, using Gym Movement protocols to test the movement, modifications, and load, i pressed and ran.

Details are not important, but i will tell you that when i train in that club, all eyes are on me.

Why? It is not always the tan skin, blue eyes, or the muscle shirt/short shorts i wear.  It is likely not my Vibram Five Fingers, or the air guitar, or even the multiple toe touches and shoulder abduction ROM tests i perform.  It is the obnoxious positions i train in.  My chest press, from both the flat bench and incline bench, looks like i am humping the air and trying to punch away my demons, one arm at a time.

My one-arm deadlift with a barbell always draws stares.  My speed training in the club is wonderful for my hips, and involves lateral running and backwards trots, as well as hardcore step running.  I look like an NFL wannabe.

But it all tests well, and it makes me happy, and it feels great.  These sessions are, at once, training [moving towards a goal], workouts [satisfying the emotional itch to look sexy], and indicators of pain resolution.  I can again perform components of what used to make my injuries worse.

Progress, every day.

BFW

Good day.

When you hear minimum, minimal, or minute. what do you associate with it?

Do you think of things like minimum wage, minimum commitment, or minimum price? Some associations to minimum may be positive, and some negative.

Prior to learning how to test my exercises with Gym Movement Protocol, i always thought of minimums as something a lazy, uninspired person would log in order to just “get by”.  Lately, i have been thinking of things from more angles, and aiming for a greater perspective on most subjects.  On some subjects, i remain rigid.

For example, if you were to ask me if i was happy for the Boston Bruins and their fans that they have won a Stanley Cup for the first time in many years, i would say “NO!”.

In the last ten years, Boston sports fans have celebrated three Superbowls, two World Series’, an NBA championship, and now a Stanley Cup.

In other words, “Fuck them”.

That is how rigid i remain on some subjects.  In other areas i am quite supple, and flexible with my thoughts.  For example: i no longer player hate on Crossfit, P90X, or anything people choose to do in order to feel better about themselves.  If they want to watch a DVD and jump around in their living room, go ahead and become that beast.  If they ask for my professional opinion during a billable hour, then i will offer a critique.  But these days, when i’m out chumming and someones asks me what i think about _______.  I tell them, ‘do what you like, do what you can get better at’.

Suppleness.  Flexibility.  Understanding.

I also understand the concept of mEA as it applies to the protocols i use to test my movements, dietary supplements, and food stuffs.

The minimal effective amount as it applies here is the amount of work performed or effort used in order to move forward.

Or, do what you can to achieve ‘better’, and then shift your attention.

Or, hit a Personal Record in a drill, and then move on.

Or, do enough work in the gym, at the track, in the pool, on the road, etc.  in order to be better than before, and then put it in the books as a progress report.

Or, do as little as it takes to make an improvement, and turn your attention to something else.

Got it?

This is not how you  must roll every day.  Some days you put in the MEA, or, the maximum effective amount.  Like competitions, or situations where giving it ‘your all’ is required.  Things like having sex, running a 5K race, or telling a family member that they need to quit _____ before they ______.  Those situations manifest simply because that is life.  That is what will unfold, sometimes without warning, as part of your existence.  You will have to deal with shit on the regular, or on the occasional ‘day from hell’.  Either way, some situations require the mEA in order to be resolved, and some are in need of the MEA of your attention.

If you are just working out, however, my personal and professional opinions on ‘output’ are as such:

Eric Williams Jr., the fat kid who was dumped on Valentine’s Day 1992 for as kid with a better body will tell you that doing what you enjoy and what does not f@#k you up is what matters the most.  It is just exercise, it’s not child rearing.  Have fun, for the love of Pete.

Big Will, the armor clad road dog who you pay to learn from will tell you that you gotta be smart, and you gotta know how to select the movements and modify them to the specifications that will allow you to reach your performance and physique goals, which should be realistic, and measurable.

Once the goals are set, realize the benchmarks you make in training and note them in your record.  And either continue the improvement in the immediate sense [if you just ran farther than you ever have in 15:00, you keep going beyond the minimum amount of work needed to improve], or clock out and move on to something else [stop the run, and go food shopping or get your car detailed, the minimal effective amount].

(no disrespect intended to Abraham Maslow)

Big Will’s hierarchy of  stuff

-Thoughts, desires, feelings

-Words, spoken to outline your desires

-Actions, made to satisfy and actualize the desire

Where do you begin in order to get better?  Let’s find out together.

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Distance Coaching, Personal Training, and Nutrition Advisory.

My distance coaching program is offered as a three month distance program as well as a three month hybrid-package.  My hybrid package is designed to serve people who are within driving distance of my training locations, yet can not commit to weekly training session due to the other elements of life, such as family, employment, traffic, and such.

What do you desire?