Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish proverbs for the fit paddy, or things my grandmother used to say, and how they apply to the gym.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit

For a laugh I decided that all of my facebook updates from the start of March till St. Pats would be old Irish proverbs. It struck me how many of them applied to fitness. I started scratching some notes and came up with this list:

You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
I am a nerd. The things I am interested in, I read every and any thing I can get my hands on. However, you never get the same level of understanding until you do the things you’re reading about. In fitness, there are thousands of training programs out there, and they all “work” to varying degrees, but the only way you know if they will work for you is if you give it an honest several weeks of consistent effort. Then look at the results, and tweak it from there. Don’t overanalyze. Get in and get some work done.

Two people see a thing that an individual does not see.
Training on your own is not ideal. Your body and mirrors can give you some feedback, but nowhere near what a good training partner or coach can give just by looking. The more information you can get on your technique and efforts, the better off you will be. Training partners, get some.

There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.
Heavy loads can be dangerous, but those dangers can be mitigated if you fix your movement patterns, imbalances, tissue quality and flexibility deficits. Take the time to correct your deficits before they become injuries.

There is no luck except where there is discipline.
That guy or gal at your gym that are completely shredded, the reason they look the way they do isn’t luck, or “good genes.” Even the most genetically gifted folks end up looking like crap by their late 20s if they don’t watch their diet, and train hard. Don’t believe me, just get on facebook and look up the cheerleaders from your high school days. Some of them still look good.. most don’t. Consistent effort and dietary discipline make the difference. They might have good genes too, but without hard work, you’d never notice.

It’s no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking.
More benching, more sit-ups, more curls are not going to get you ‘jakt’ if all you’re doing is benching, curling, and doing sit-ups. Squat, row, deadlift, and your mirror muscles will grow. Work on your weaknesses, and your strengths will be all the more impressive.

It is better to be a coward for a minute than dead the rest of your life.
That twinge in your back, that pinch in your shoulder.. listen to it. Pull the plug. Many surgeries were precipitated by a “twinge” that went ignored. Trust me.

It is a long road that has no turning.
There is a guy who goes to my gym. He’s been going there for 2-3 years, doing the same exercises, with the same weights, and he looks exactly the same. Change in stress leads to adaptation. Your body will get used to anything if repeated for years. Change your grip, add range of motion, reps, sets.. make small changes and you’ll get to your goals faster.

If you do not sow in the spring you will not reap in the autumn.
This is mainly for the athletes. Your off season is time to repair your body and improve your athleticism. It is not the time to play 3 hours of pick-up games and keep beating up your body getting weaker, slower, and more injured. Don’t worry about your skill level. Don’t worry about “getting out of shape.” If you get strong and athletic your skill and condition will be better applied. Being the fastest guy in the off season doesn’t matter if the other guy is faster on race day.

Food is a good workhorse.
This works two ways. Firstly, you can’t out train a bad diet. Fat loss, and hypertrophy are driven by diet. The new hotness training program won’t add an ounce of muscle if you don’t eat enough, conversely doing 26 complexes, crossfitting and running a marathon a day won’t trim you up if you’re eating donuts and Doritos. Secondly, Oaxacan frog eyelashes might be the best supplement ever, but if your diet sucks you won’t see the benefits no matter how much you take.

Even a small thorn causes festering.
Small injuries can cause big problems. In the 1937 all-star game St. Louis Cardinals great Dizzy Dean took a line drive in his plant foot that broke his big toe. No big deal, right? Broken toe? Well it’s no big deal if you let it heal correctly. Dean came back too soon, and the pain in his foot changed his pitching mechanics. His changed mechanics caused an arm injury that ended his career within a few years. From the best pitcher in baseball to retirement because of a broken toe. Deal with your small injuries.

A windy day is not a day for thatching.
You cannot train every day, you cannot train with maximal intensity for months at a time. You must rest, and you have to recognize those days when you just don’t have the gas, and go home. Rest, deload, listen to your body.

A trout in the pot is better than a salmon in the sea.
Focus on what you have available to you. If your gym doesn’t have bumper plates, you’re going to be hard pressed to do heavy snatches. Reverse hypers are great for low back training, but if you don’t have one.. you can’t do them. If you have a barbell and some weight, you can get stronger. If you have some open space for body weight exercises and a track you can get in shape.

A trade not properly learned is an enemy.
Technique. Loads (even light ones) moved improperly are going to injure you. It’s just a matter of time. Get your technique right.

The future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.
You may not be able to look like Brad Pitt or Jamie Eason, but you’ll never know till you get in shape. Train, learn, practice, be the best you can be. You can do far more than you think you can.

Sláinte is táinte!

1 comment:

fredly said...

Great stuff today. I want to keep this one on hardcopy, and give it to training clients!