Tip: Do the Opposite

In training and in life, the majority seldom gets it right. Maybe it's time to do things differently.

The Majority Is Always Wrong, So Do the Opposite

Think about it:

  • The majority of people have no goals. Therefore, establish goals for yourself.
  • The majority of people don't train. Therefore, train.
  • The majority of people think that seeing their doctor regularly is essential for optimal health. Nope. Having good health habits is essential for optimal health.
  • The majority of people watch TV for several hours per day. Therefore, watch much less.
  • The majority of people spend many hours per day in a seated position. Therefore, spend more time on your feet.
  • The majority of people don't read. You're reading now. Good for you.

I could provide hundreds of examples like this, but those suffice. But let's get a bit more specific and apply this rule to training and nutrition:

You need to establish a context outside of your workouts to assess the value of your training, like you're training to improve your health, well-being, or athletic performance. Or, just for the sake of challenging yourself. When you train for performance, aesthetics will always improve. The opposite isn't usually true, however.

Look, you know what I'm talking about. When you're feeling sore after a workout, you have a constant and gratifying reminder that you've actually accomplished something. But it's better to use your performance as a gauge of what you've accomplished than how much you hurt the next day.

Numbers don't lie. If your numbers are going up, so is your progress. The reverse is not true however. I trashed my back once doing something really stupid. The fact that I couldn't tie my shoes wasn't a sign of progress.

Once you've accepted that performance is a better measure of progress than pain, make sure the underlying purpose is rational and healthy.

Is your incessant desire for a 500-pound bench press tied to any worthy context outside of just having a huge bench? If you're a competitive powerlifter, and powerlifting adds purpose to your life, your answer is yes. But for the rest of you, maybe not. Only you can answer this question, and it's probably worth some exploration.

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook