Optimal vs Real Life-The Productivity Series S16E1

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We have a model for the proper performance of the lifts and we understand programming principles and how to drive progress over time, but we have to acknowledge that for lots of people lots of the time, they can’t train optimally. And, honestly, at some point everyone--every single person--will be unable to train optimally. In these cases, we have to do the best we can.

Life comes up and presents obstacles to consistent training: vacation, work, family, holidays, and injuries. Furthermore, some people can’t perform the lifts as we tend to coach them. We have to deviate from the model intelligently.

If, for example, you can’t low bar squat, try thumbs around the bar. Try the high bar or front squat. You may have to specialize in the deadlift. And, over time, you may be able to low bar squat depending on your limitations.

Though we advocate the low bar squat and a specific way to perform the lifts based on biomechanics, we know that squatting is better than not squatting at all because you can’t low bar squat. If your gym closes, exercising is better than doing nothing.

As an example of an intelligent deviation from optimal programming, Matt tore his pec. He now limits bench press intensity to 315. He won’t ever hit a bench press intensity PR. Because of this, he prioritizes the press, he does higher volume at lower reps, and he--again--does the best he can.

Time is one of the biggest limitations for people. You have to block out time and commit to training during that time. It might not be 3 or 4 times a week: it might be 5 super short workouts during lunch. It might be 2 workouts. You might have to shorten rest periods. You might have to do your warm ups for your next lift during your rest periods. That’s okay: it’s better than not training.

A huge part of this is to stay in the habit and not get into a slump of not training. If you take long breaks from training, it gets harder to return. Maintaining a habit of exercise--even if it’s something in a crappy hotel gym--is better than doing nothing.

Finally, we have to acknowledge that there’s not a huge number of people who can string together 6 weeks of optimal training. Though some of these could prioritize training and get it done, life gets in the way and that’s okay. We maintain the habit, do the best we can, and continue to do hard things.

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