Evolution

Posted: January 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Vaccinations… Prosthetic body modifications… Weight lifting… What do these words have in common? They are all examples of advancements, designed by humans to direct their adaptation to existence in the modern world. Adaptation is vital to the process of evolution, to the point of synonymity; without adaptation, there is no evolution. Because of the interdependence of these two processes, I would argue that the discovery of methods to cause adaptations intentionally is the most significant advancement that humans have made. Adaptation takes many forms–not just physical, but also emotional and psychological. Anytime we are learning, we are adapting, we are evolving. When we talk about the next phase of human evolution, it seems to evoke fantastic images of mutants with gills or superpowers. But, really, is it any less amazing the way we’ve induced our own evolution by introducing microscopic germs into our bodies so that we are forced to learn to fight them and therefore able to prevent future illness?

Evolution

One aspect of adaptation that has been studied to some degree is the effect that the psychological can have on the physical–everything from people dying within months after receiving a terminal prognosis even though they were misdiagnosed, to people seeing gains from exercise programs that they only executed through visualization. Hard data on these situations exists. And what does it imply? Could there be an angle of performance enhancement that is underused? Could psychological training actually have the power to elicit tangible physical gains? Can muscle tissue and tendon strength be increased through mind work? If psychological training can produce real results, how much can we expect from it and what are the most efficient ways to capitalize on it?

I do not know.

I myself grew up loving comic books, and so I tend to animate my training in my mind, cartoon-style. If I am going to do heavy squats, I visualize myself as a Titan, with entire planets poised on the ends of my barbell. I tell the civilizations, “Hold on! You’re about to go for a ride!” They wait on mountaintops, clinging to trees for dear life while their oceans churn and their entire planet is thrown back and forth by the force of me completing my set. At the same time, I visualize my muscles growing. I see my frame strengthening on a cellular level from deep within to the shell that I have authority over. I command my body to manifest the image that I have in my mind. Glowing psychic energy from within me casts the shadow of my intent over my physical body. I am the arbiter of my creation. My maker handed the reigns to me so that I could cultivate myself as an organism capable of anything that I can solidify in my mind.

With every passing generation, people adapt and evolve–some slowly, some rapidly. But the line of evolution has only moved in one direction since we started walking upright: people are getting better. We live longer and are exponentially smarter. Almost without exception, progress in speed, strength, and thought have come at increasingly rapid rates. Besides the legends of King kameamea flipping the naha stone and the American forefathers who could write with both hands at the same time in two different languages, the human races batting average has been steadily increasing.

i say as unbelievable as paul bunyon was i watch a few youtube videos per day that shatter my narrow scope of reality. 500 years ago a tale of hafthor bjornson walking with a 1400 pount mast on his shoulders would have taken years to get to this end of the world. and by then who knows what form the tale would hold. a millennia passed since the first account of such a feat. Now I watched it with my own eyes just a day after it was accomplished.

one of the most powerful tools for increasing the power of the mind is to constantly show it evidence that any limitations perceived are simply self-imposed. when I was yound and had just done my first backflip on a trampoline i rode my motorcycle shortly thereafter and spent a day hitting one particular jump. I saw in my minds eye that the jump would be perfect to accomplish a backflip on my motorcycle. Fear prevented the accomplishment at the time, and possibly being bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, but when the first backflip on a motorcycle was achieved i was not surprised. I could see and feel myself doing it that day. I knew it was possible.

Extreme sports are evolving so fast it is terrifying. Robbie Madison table topping the arc de triumph in vegas to all sorts of vehicular stunts that look like a cartoon at first view. Red Bull puts its name on all sorts of insanity that just a decade ago was practically science fiction.

My point of this rant is that the slow drip of progress is not necessary anymore. Fate is begging the human race to blow the doors of the limitations of the mind and rewarding us with uncanny abilities. Acrobatics and strength, speed and agility, and knowledge are all increasing at mind boggling rates because of the tangible proof of what is possible that is communicated at light speed across the world now.

I challenge everyone to take their passion and spend some time fantasizing about what it will look like in 50 years.

Look at what the benchmarks and records were back then and what are they now. What kind of advancements were made that allowed for this progress? what did that look like 20 years ago? and now today.

If that same type of progress was maintained what will those numbers look like?

when will we break a 3 minute mile?

a sub 4 second 40 yard dash?

a 1500 pound raw squat?

50 years ago a car that went 100 miles an hour was very fast. 30 years ago a street legal car broke 200 miles an hour.

within the last few years the production car record is about 270 mph.

How long until 300 is achieved? and then how long after that until the speed limit is on the rural freeways is 150 or more?

Not as long as it may seem.

Make efforts everyday to expand your scope of reality and what is possible. This combined with refining the focus you have on small achievable goals in the short term will combine to tangible acceleration in gains. This must always be tempered with reason and safety. Reckless pursuit only ends one way. But do not be your own limitation. You are capable of anything that can be focused upon with enough intent to see and feel. To believe with enough conviction that the effort necessary to achieve the goal valid and worthwhile. IF the effort is put in and the goal is clear, nothing can stop you. The universe will be on your side and destiny will have your back. Never stop

 

The Holiday Season

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

(This article was written hastily and is unedited, I just wanted to make sure to get this published in time for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thank you for everyone near and far for trying to be the best people we can. Happy Holidays)

The celestial cycle is coming to a close. I find myself attempting to emulate the mentality of our ancestors and the observations that eventually evolved into this glorious season. The winter months coming to a close. The spring would be providing a new opportunity to plant seed and a freedom from a harsh cold season. It would be time to produce, collect, and store resources to survive the most dangerous part of the year.  Somewhere along the line it became a practice to take a moment to come together and celebrate the best of what we could be. On the longest night of the year during the coldest and darkest season people made it a point to come together and cultivate generosity and gratitude. Thanksgiving celebrating the fall harvest, and the winter celebration of the solstice. Religions and cultures the world over have some form of celebrations during these times. The underlying theme of them all is the sense of love, community, generosity, and gratitude.

I find this all so awesome that possibly just as an opportunity to remind everybody of what is still good in life at a time when our ancestors would have been in the middle of the most extreme seasonal struggle for survival of the year. I can imagine gratitude could have been at its lowest point when people were surviving off of stored foods and goods. Possibly realizing “dammit I should’ve tanned a bigger fur to stay warm, chopped more wood for the fire, and where did I put that salted squirrel I was saving?????” Being thankful for family and community may not be on the mind while buttcheeks are frozen together and you are trying to ration out the last of the salted beef heart. (I have no idea if that is a real thing people ate)

Point being I think it is a true testament to the good in people to have started a tradition to celebrate the longest, coldest night of the year with a holiday focused on cheer and good tidings. Giving and a recommitment to community have persevered and spread to a large portion of the globe. Even places that did not have a winter per se now celebrate some form of joyousness and gratitude this time of the year.

Fast forward to today as I sit at a computer in Scottsdale Arizona bracing myself for the partly cloudy 72 degree day I am forced to forge through. Life is riddled with abundance and opportunity. There will be no epic struggle for survival and the food will be fresh and delicious. I will be blessed to spend time with the friends and family in attendance and I will dearly miss the friends and family that will be elsewhere hopefully having an equally beautiful, loving, and celebratory day. All of those still with us are available at a simple tap for communication on the little magic box in my pocket. I believe those no longer with us are at most peace seeing the attempts made by the family still here to maintain tradition.

Disconnect from the cynicism and negativity that lower people attempt to pollute the season with. I am well aware that the Thanksgiving story has a spotty history, and that Coca-Cola has a lot to do with the modern imagery of Santa Clause. Who gives a crap!!!. Take the foil helmet off for a couple weeks and save the cause for the other 10 months. Even if its just for the few weeks at the end of the year, take the time to pretend to be the person you wish you were. Be in gratitude for all that you have. Pray for those that are less fortunate. Take some time, money, or something and try to make the world a better place for someone else. If all of these actions leave you with a realization that you have improvements to make then take a page from our ancestors playbook. Plant the seeds of change and progress, tend to that crop as if your life depends on it, harvest the benefits of change, and then repeat this process this time next year.

I wish everyone a happy holidays.

 

Value

Posted: October 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

How do you determine value? Whether consciously or subconsciously, we attach value to all things in life. People, places, and things have value. Actions have value. Words have value. Situations have value. Ideas and feelings have value. Positive or negative, great or small, all things are assessed with the concept of value.

Value is always determined by the individual as an indication of his or her priorities in a specific moment in a specific context. Sure, we can say that groups agree upon certain values. For instance, gold traders agree upon the price of gold on any given day. But I can guarantee you that even a gold trader’s gold wedding ring is worth a whole helluva lot more to him on his wedding day than on the day he finds out his wife is leaving him. The tricky thing about value is that the commodity usually remains the same—a bar of gold is a bar of gold is a bar of gold, with the same properties and characteristics, the same features and functions—and yet its value is constantly changing. So how do you determine value?

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Reputation is one of the intangible ideas that is determined 100% by the application of subjective value, and the concept of reputation is highly relevant to this blog. Your reputation is critical to your success, in any venue or venture. What is your reputation worth to you? Do you make a point to be aware of it? Do you work on it? Do you invest in it? Do you have integrity? What are you worth to other people? How can you know?

  • How do people react to you when you tell them your goals? If you tell people you are going to create a new program, or start a business, or even just throw a party, do they trust that it’s a done deal and start planning accordingly? Or do they peer at you out of the corner of their eyes with a look that says, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that before”? Of course, there will always be haters who meet every “I have a great idea” with a sarcastic “Yeah right,” but they’re no more than losers who realize their insignificant worth to the universe—on the balance sheet of life, they are spoilage… rat damage to be written off… blowback from the toilet flush of life… scraps whose cosmic purpose is to give winners the perspective of just how valuable they really are.
  • What is a promise worth to you? Do you believe your own promises? Do others? A promise isn’t often associated with a value, especially a monetary value, but it absolutely has one. A promise made by one person will produce laughter, while a promise from another person will produce enough trust to motivate people to invest millions of dollars. What are your promises worth?
  • What is the value that you place on yourself? Do you take your own goals seriously? When you make a promise to yourself, does it mean anything?

In the world of business, we regularly take inventory of our physical holdings in order to understand the value of our position. We don’t simply assess what we have and do not have, but we also evaluate—assign value to—those items. Taking a personal inventory is a great technique to keep yourself on the path to achievement, too. Where can you increase your efficiency? Where do you need to add value? Just as we make capital investments in inventory in the business world so that we have products that are desirable to consumers, so should we make strides in our personal lives so that we are valuable to ourselves and society.

When I write out a training program for myself, I consider it a binding contract. I know that, come hell or high water, I will follow it to the T. One of the biggest issues that I’ve had to address is that, if I identified a flaw in a program after I had started it, I wouldn’t make the appropriate adjustments because it felt like breach of contract. So I devised a system where I could allow myself to change things up without mind-fucking myself into second-guessing my decision. All changes made had to have an extensive rationale logged. Then after a short period I will review the rationale and see if the problem being addressed by the change had been fixed. If not then I would again revise my strategy.

It is imperative to your training program that you value yourself. Take your reputation seriously and invest in it. Take others’ perception of you into account as you’re making decisions. Live your life secure in the pride of integrity—it’s an insurance policy against losing your own personal value. Live wide open and honest. Success is never more fragile than when the person who achieves it is yoked to false value. People only reap the rewards of a good reputation as long as they deserve that reputation and keep their promises.

And don’t worry—even if you are not some sterling example of morality, people can still find value in you through the principle of WYSIWYG, what you see is what you get. I knew a man in college who told people, “You might not be able to trust me, but you can always trust me to be me.” His opening line with girls was, “You should run away now,” followed by, “I’ll be the biggest mistake you ever loved to make.” He was open and honest, and he always gave people the right to decide for themselves. He’s now a very successful lawyer.

Take a careful inventory of yourself. Spend some time with it so that you feel your own weight, getting a sense of yourself as a product in the universal market. Then, begin taking steps to increase your value daily—do a couple things with that intent every day. Hold yourself accountable, and demand that others do, as well. Tell people your goals and ambitions so that your reputation is on the line and contingent upon your follow-through. Accomplishing one discrete goal is not the end game—as soon as you accomplish one goal, set another, and use this strategy for every arena of your life. The pride in accomplishing a single goal is nothing compared to the glory of becoming a person who has adopted the habit of achieving all goals. This habit of constantly pursuing goals is the horsepower that will carry you through the race of life. Constantly polish the trophies your life provides—no one trophy is ever enough. And for Pete’s sake, if you take inventory and find that you’re living in a deficit, build up your stock immediately.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts.  Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.”—Robert M. Pirsig

Becoming a Hero

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Heroes are everywhere these days—you can hardly swing a stick without getting it caught in somebody’s cape. From the big screen comic book crime fighters that gross millions in the box office alone to the logos emblazoned on every imaginable piece of merchandise being hocked by the big boxes, we are clearly obsessed. So how exactly does one go about becoming a hero?

Take away the capes and tights. Take away the trumpet swells and strident drums. Take away all the Hollywood details, and you’ll see that heroism is truly a matter of the success demonstrated by accomplishing goals. Really, it doesn’t even matter what your goals are, as long as you say, “I’m going to do something,” and then you do it. Achievement is what is attractive, not the actual spoils. Why? Because it happens so rarely. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect example of this lack of follow-through, with their 88% failure rate. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Who followed through? Next to nobody. But some folks are made of stronger stuff than those other folks who gave up, gave out, walked away, slinked off to a dark corner with their tail between their legs. What do they do that’s different?

  1. Achieve. Achievement is, at its core, a one-step process. Once you know what you want to achieve, figure out how to do it. DO NOT QUIT! That’s it. True, you’ll need to strategize, but your strategy will change constantly. You’ll need to research, but your research will ebb and flow. You’ll need to take risks, but those risks will teach you the lessons you need to progress. And you will need to fail, but your failure will redirect your actions. Nothing—not strategies, research, risks, or failures—can come between you and your achievement. Achievement is only off the table when you quit.
  2. Stand for something. Have principles and stick to them. Do your best every chance you get. Nobody is perfect, but it’s a whole lot easier to garner the awe and respect due to heroes if you align your actions with your soul and never ever compromise. Living with integrity means that your words match your deeds. Stand tall for your choices so that you do not have to give a shit what anyone thinks—then you do not have to sweat it if someone claims to have some illicit video starring you or proof of the illegitimate child you never knew you had. Everything always comes out in the wash, like the fine upstanding preachers who get busted with hookers or even our ancestral heroes whose shine turns out to be nothing more than gilt when the research is done. If being a hero means nothing to you, then you’re free to live your life however you want. But if you aspire to more, then you have to live true to your own code, whatever that is.
  3. Help others. Give back in every way possible. Nothing feels better, has a bigger impact on the world, or generates more momentum than genuine good deeds for others. Find a cause that you feel in your heart and be its champion. Give until it hurts a little. Tune your energy to service so that it radiates. Make an impact. Always keep in mind that time is the most valuable commodity in the world—where you spend your time and who you spend it with will be remembered. Don’t believe me? Just go to an old folks’ home or a hospice for a couple of hours. Your net worth means shit compared to where you invest your time. I have a few words of caution for you, though, as you set your sights toward service. Helping others does not mean that you need to sacrifice yourself. Strongly organized efforts solve problems efficiently without any of their members needing to dive on a grenade for the cause. These same efforts use their resources, both human and otherwise, wisely. Steer clear of charities whose CEOs make as much as corporate execs.IMG_0958
  4. Teach. We all have valuable knowledge to offer to others. You will be able to teach long after you are able to perform. Be as aggressive at learning and experiencing as you can while you are able to perform. When that time has passed, whatever form of teaching you impart will have all the more value.
  5. Know the difference between your sidekicks and your nemeses. As you establish yourself as a hero, you’ll start to attract attention, but it won’t always be good. Some people will use you for what they can gain from you personally. Often, these same people will carry with them a diminishing effect, dragging you down to their inferior level. Whether they make well-intentioned suggestions that are actually based out of their own fear or jealousy, or whether they undermine your achievements by chalking them up to luck or privilege, or whether they hate on you openly, they can easily destroy everything you have worked for in the blink of an eye. Sadly, these people may be the “friends” you’ve known your whole life or your family members who are too eager to play the “family first” card. Well, fuck that. Blood means little, and friends are a dime a dozen unless they have proven that they come from a place of genuine love and support. Once the crud have been identified and removed, it will be easier to see those who are there to help you, as well as those who can really benefit from your help.

My entire blog is dedicated to those who are dedicated to achievement. I’ve chosen strength training as my focus for two major reasons. One is that the principles for success with strength training are universal and applicable to all aspects of life. The other is that there is no pinnacle to be achieved by following my training philosophy, since you can always be bigger, better, faster, or more. The heroes of the past have left us a legacy of bravery and courage embedded in their stories of achievement and accomplishment. I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to continue the tradition, each one of us leaving the greatest legacy possible. I want to be the hero in my own saga, and, more importantly, I want to do everything I can to inspire anyone in anyway to make their own legacy better. I want everyone to be the hero in their own personal adventure.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“Write your own story. Be your own hero. Speak your own truth. Live your own dream.”—Raphaella Vaisseau

Economic Budgeting

Posted: August 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

No, this is not an Intro to Finance lesson. A economy or budget is a detailed accounting or plan for the expenditure of finite resources. An economy is not simply about money—it’s about how you plan to use what you have. Ideally, this plan will have some sort of focus or orientation. With that explanation out of the way, you can now set yourself apart from that group of ignorant people who say, “In this economy, yada yada yada,” and don’t really understand what the term even means.

Here is an example of a horrible economy: America. Our assets include advanced industry, open market competition, high potential for an educated populace, vast natural resources, and a very open global trade policy. We also have the highest GDP in the world and a government that claims to be a constitutional republic. But how does America allocate funds?

(I know this is a strength and performance blog. This example is merely illustrative and will not drag on, I promise.)

Health and human services consume roughly one-fifth of the budget, yet we have nowhere near any form of respectable public healthcare. I have some of the best insurance available, and, by a LONG shot, my medical bills are my highest expenditure, even though I am perfectly healthy and require nothing more than checkups, sporadic followups, and routine dental maintenance. Half of the free world has public healthcare, but ours is scarcely better than that of a third world country. In some countries in Europe, if an American doctor wants to practice medicine, he or she is required to receive an additional 18 to 24 months of medical school. Medical practice is the third leading killer in our country. We haven’t devised a cure for a major disease in half a century (but, of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that the treatment of “disease” is one of the largest contributors to our GDP). And I haven’t even mentioned our childhood obesity epidemic.

Moving on. Defense also makes up roughly one-fifth of our budget. I know this is a sensitive topic, so let me just gloss over a few purely quantitative points before I slide away from it. Our defense budget is larger than every country in the civilized world combined. China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are the highest spenders on the list that I would not turn my back on from a military standpoint. Only Russia’s border has any proximity to ours, and it’s been over a century since we’ve experienced any military encroachment. We’ve had no productive military victory since the end of WWII. But defense still comprises a huge budget, and its many classified portions seem to open the door to misappropriation more than any noticeable progress. It looks to me like there is more than a little wiggle room in that budget, especially considering that we don’t pay active-duty soldiers shit, we don’t take very good care of them after they’re done serving, and we have them fighting in places we really have no business, for causes we can’t clarify, at a cost that has no clear justification. Orrrrr, we could actually be an efficient global peace force with a reputation of integrity and be the ones who come to save the day when other countries ask for help.

Social security is another one-fifth our budget. Now, the social security administration obviously has room for improvement, but taking care of our retired citizens is a place where I think we could afford to spend more. We definitely need to do a much, much better job of taking care of them. Maybe we could pawn a couple of fighter jets and lead the world in quality of life for our elderly. Just sayin.

The Department of the Treasury is the next biggest expenditure. Here is a snippet from its budget disclosure: “The Department of the Treasury’s FY 2015 request includes resources to strengthen the U.S. economy and job creation, help struggling homeowners, monitor risks to the financial system, encourage small business lending, protect taxpayers, promote fair and effective revenue collection, fight financial crimes, reinforce the international competitiveness of the United States, manufacture currency, and responsibly manage the U.S. government’s financial resources, among other duties.” I’m not sure if this disclosure is intended to be hysterical or if the Treasury is actually grotesquely underfunded and ill-equipped for the tasks set out for them. Either way, it proves my point about budget quite well.

HUD, Veterans Affairs, and education total around 7%. No, you read that right. They TOTAL 7%. “Other” totals 6%, just to put that number in perspective.

We Americans are not stupid. But in no way are we considered well educated by the rest of the world, so I’m going to wrap up my illustration with the topic of education. With only 3% of our national budget spent on education, we actually have a relatively high expenditure per student. The PISA test, which compares 65 countries in their education performance, shows that 29 out of 65 crushed us in math, and 22 beat us in science “by a statistically significant margin.” Our ranking in scientific achievement has dropped four places from seven years ago. Even Vietnam beat America. The major takeaway is that American kids are getting stupider while the kids in the rest of the world are benefiting from the effort their governments are putting into improvement. Is it purely a financial issue? Absolutely not. And here is where this discussion about budgeting becomes relevant to strength and performance: you spend your resources where your priorities are. We have over a trillion dollars in student debt crushing a generation by holding their future hostage, when taking 3% from our national budget across the board would make our education system free to all students from K through GRADUATE SCHOOL!!! and no sports, music, or afterschool programs would have to be cut. If all congressmen were paid in line with the average income of the country, were eligible for no more than the Social Security benefits the rest of us receive, and were thoroughly vetted and held accountable for all votes cast to those who elected them, not the ones that FUNDED them, then America might be a place with the same integrity it had at the end of WWII.

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Budgets are important is my point. In application to the life of my readers, I would like everyone to review their personal economy. How do you allocate your time, money, and resources? Are they in line with the person you want to be? If you were your own country, are you the president you would elect?

If your goal is to get bigger or stronger, are you allocating adequate resources appropriately? As with America, we can see that the amount of money you allocate means little if it is allocated poorly. Russia has the No. 2 military in the world, but is No. 4 in spending. Saudi Arabia is No. 3 in spending, but its military is not in the top 10. What you spend on is more important than how much you spend. I used to buy every new bullshit supplement that hit the market, until I realized that all of my biggest gains came when I could not afford to buy anything but bulk flank steak on clearance and peanut butter for protein. When it comes to achieving goals and making progress, you have to put effort into thinking about how you’re budgeting your resources. Just as I’ve advised you to review your training logs and constantly make all improvements possible, compare want and need. Compare value. Compare efficiency.

We could have the number one public health and education systems in the world in less than five years. We could be innovators in science and technology. We could have an educated public. No, seriously!! We could have citizens who learned to think for themselves, rather than being educated through advertising. An educated public would naturally hold itself to a higher standard and seek to improve all aspects of its country. The prison population would decrease by at least half just through law reform. With the opportunities given to the following generations with free education and social reform, I believe that by the year 2050 we could reduce the U.S. prison system to one single supermax federal prison and one penitentiary per state. We could lead by example with human rights and public integrity. With simple budget reform and greater accountability, we could be the country with the highest standard of living for all, a statistically insignificant unemployment rate, the best education rankings, and the greatest amount of genuine civic pride. We could learn from the mistakes of the past and become a beacon of achievement and progress.

It all starts with the individual. It starts with us. Being an Elite means never compromising integrity but rather constantly striving for improvement. Live your life as an example to yourself. Rule yourself as you would your country. Always remember that what you do with what you have is a much clearer statement on your character than what you do or do not have. In athletics, the Russians have always been formidable opponents on many fields, despite their limited resources, nutrition, facilities, etc. They are always competitive. What they do with what they have is far more economical than how we manage our resources. Having it easy is rarely an avenue to success.

Take an honest inventory of everything you have, both tangible and intangible. Take an honest inventory of what and who you are. Get a clear picture in your mind of what you want to achieve and work backwards. You may have to be more creative or persistent than someone with more resources, but all things are achievable. Get to it.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”—James W. Frick

Gratitude: Part 1

Posted: August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Anyone CAN be Elite, but very few are. Are you? Look for the common threads found among those few who realize their dreams—emulating their behavior can be a powerful tool for achievement. Wallace Wattles, W. Clement Stone,  and John D. Rockefeller are among the many legends who wrote about abundance, and they lived lives that are proof positive of the concept. What sets the Elite apart from the unknown rich is how they increase their life every day. What about you? Do you give more than you receive from the universe? I know this question sounds like hippie shit, but it really is a universal principle. If your goals are strength and performance, money, education and learning, or absolutely any other avenue to attainment, there is one all-powerful ingredient that can’t be left out of your recipe for success: GRATITUDE.

Do you live in gratitude? Do you acknowledge what you have, or do you fret about the things you do not have? Do you give thanks for the opportunities and lessons in your life, or do you hold resentment for the experiences you’ve endured? Do you honor the universe by plunging yourself into your passions, absorbing every bit of life available to you? Do you walk into the gym full of gratitude that your ancestors bore the burdens of history so that you could enjoy the luxury of battling with the iron? Do you wake up feeling thankful that your entire day is not a constant battle for survival against the elements, searching for food and fire and trying not to be another creature’s meal? Do you feel grateful that all of your living loved ones are but a moment away from you, thanks to this magic, pocket-sized machine that can bridge across the entire civilized world, or do you throw this machine across the room when it fails to pluck the response to your request out of thin fucking air within a time frame that pleases you? Does it ever even cross your mind that, given the minuscule scale of our individual contributions to humanity, it would be a good idea to express your appreciation that someone put the effort into building a dwelling for you? Or do you bitch at red lights for singling you out because they get off on making you a few minutes behind schedule in your air-conditioned transportation machine? “Fucking red light is doing this on purpose!”

I could go on and on, of course, but I’m sure that the concept is clear. Just the fact that you are capable of setting a goal for yourself and that you are also capable of attempting to achieve it is a mind-boggling situation that should be approached with the most gratitude your heart can muster. The simple process of being alive is an accomplishment of unfathomable proportions.

Gratitude

Imagine yourself sitting down to chat with someone from history—you only have to go back a couple hundred years for a description of your goals to sound so ridiculous that they would probably get you executed for their mere utterance. Even if you only went back as far as the early 20th Century, you’d be in a straight jacket. We regularly benefit from a level of comfort that the human mind could not even conceive of a century ago. We have machines that keep our food fresh and handy, machines that prepare our food with ease, machines that keep the air temperature comfortable for us while we’re savoring our food. I can remember doing research for school projects in middle school where I had to pour over books looking for information that Siri can now retrieve for me in five seconds while I’m taking a crap on an airplane. Oh, the gifts of progress! But rewind the tape far enough and you see that our ancestors dug in the dirt to examine all the different components it contained, figured out how to use those components, and then combined them in a vast array of ways to create the convenience that we tend to take for granted in our little caves. We owe our current lives and lifestyles to those ancestors.

I fall into the woe-is-me trap plenty. When it happens, I take a moment to realize that the one giant organism that is this planet—delicately but systematically balancing life for an uncountable number of tiny organisms—is most likely not going to narrow its focus enough to fuck with me intentionally by playing with the traffic lights on my way to work. I’m not that significant in the grand scheme of things. And, when I imagine myself as some omnipotent being, I don’t really see myself using my power to control the blinking of red and green lights.

Try this exercise: Next time you’re about to begin training or competing, take some time to visualize the journey. Early Man and Woman unlock the secret of fire and hunt big game in order to survive, and yet they procreate and bring babies into the world that are healthy enough to carry on the species. They explore their habitat and then, in search of something better, begin to expand their territory. They wear furs for warmth as they row their wooden boat—with no sonar, no radar, no GPS, not even a fucking map!!—looking for the place that will offer them the best advantages. It’s kind of like Deadliest Catch, but without the cushy heated hull and fancy survival gear. And then—land ho, matey, let’s see what we have here! They’re greeted by every form of hostility, from bears to botulism, and still these people persevere. They fight gruesome wars with rocks and sticks, evolving through the malformed grotesques we all know from the History Channel, right up to their current iteration—whatever you are today.

Generations of people were made of stuff so tough that this world could not stop them. They have provided you the opportunity that you are walking into today. How will you proceed? Are you going to honor their struggle and sacrifice with an effort worthy of their admiration? Or are you gonna half-ass it and do just enough to get through? The latter option disrespects every triumph hard-won by those who came before you. Walk into the gym, or onto the field, or into the ring, or wherever you are going to test yourself, and pursue progress with the mindset that your audience is not only the bodies in the stands, but also the spirits of those who truly deserve the credit for the opportunities you receive. You will never know struggle with the kind of intimacy that they did, and it is their struggle that brought you here. How dare you quit anything at anytime?! What could possibly be so tough in your life that you think you’ve earned the right to throw in the towel?

I offer my gratitude to those who provided for me through their sacrifice. With my performance today, let me honor the mettle they demonstrated. Let me earn my place at the table among those who did not quit. Let me carry on the example for future generations to witness the fruit born of the highest level of effort and dedication. Put this offering into practice before every action of your day. Gratitude is the most powerful mindset—the more it’s maintained, the more you will get out of your own way, without expecting less of yourself than you are capable of.

I know it seems like I drift away from the focus of strength and performance sometimes, but there are so many brilliant people out there providing all of the information necessary for programming, plan design, technique, etc. If I do not feel that I am providing a unique angle to the subject, then I don’t want to waste your time. I try to avoid retreading topics at all cost. My focus is on being Elite! Something more, something better, something unique… Overachievement… Beyond limitations and perceived possibility. Remember that being Elite is not about measuring yourself against others—it’s about comparing today’s you to tomorrow’s you. It just so happens that, if you spend a piece of each day getting a little better, there is no limit to the abundance that lies ahead.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“What if you woke up today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday?”—unknown

Supercompensation

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

What do we want? RESULTS!!

When do we want them? YESTERDAY!!

How do we get them? CAUSING SYSTEMATIC CONTROLLED STRESSES TO THE BODY WHILE FACILITATING AN ENVIRONMENT OF OPTIMUM SUPERCOMPENSATION AND RECOVERY!!

Simple, right? Not so much.

Supercompensation is simply the response to an extreme overload stimulus, targeted for a specific result. In small doses, it is how all training works because stimulus leads to adaptation. Controlled doses of extreme over-stimulus will result in supercompensation when programmed correctly. All of the great weightlifters and strongmen in history have used some form of systematic supercompensation, from Milo of Croton carrying his baby cow everyday to Paul Anderson and his steel drums. Whatever method you choose to use, there is a simple formula to get the most from your supercompensation program: overload a training or dietary stimulus quantitatively, or train with a high level of sophistication and strategy.

milo-of-croton-banner2 edit

Supercompensation makes the most significant impacts when you’re working to strengthen specific weak spots. The Russians often use it in this way, when focusing on all-around conditioning. The most difficult part of developing the supercompensation program that’s right for you may lie in your honest answer to this question: how well do you know yourself? Let’s skip the philosophy and just say you and that meat sack you use to move yourself around are not as familiar as you would like to think you are. One of the most overlooked portions of personal programming is getting as clear a picture of your personal recovery capabilities as possible. Budget and time constraints and whatnot often limit athletes’ understanding of their own bodies to no more than reviewing training logs and doing what “feels” right. But if you’re serious, you need more than just feelings. Without going to extraordinary lengths, you can get results from a wide variety of procedures that will provide a more complete illustration of what your body is and what it responds to best: blood work, muscle biopsies, blood sugar meters, urine tests using ketosis sticks and nitrogen sticks. Online resources abound to help you come up with a science-based program. When you have attuned yourself to your recovery capacities, then you can use the supercompensation strategy to peak for competition days as well. Think extreme for performance.

What I’m offering here are not so much suggestions as examples of the mindset necessary. I prefer to hand out some seeds and then let you grow them yourselves. Athletes know what they themselves are capable of better than I do—you should be providing the bulk of the input and then challenging yourself accordingly in the formulation of your unique supercompensation programs. My work is just to pull the maximum potential out of you. Because of popular demand, though, I will give a couple examples of supercompensation programs.

  • No matter what your sport of choice is, strongman movements are always great for supercompensation. The Russians have long advocated lockouts and walkouts in powerlifting movements. If you want to increase your arm strength for armwrestling, you can do Farmer’s Walk holds with fat grips, followed by isometric weighted chins. Pick a weight to start with and time yourself for a few rounds of each. Once you’re able to achieve 60-second holds for both with 90 seconds of rest for 5 rounds, test yourself. You’ll see that you’re much, much stronger in overall output.
  • If you have a revolving or rotating deadlift handle, like a Rolling Thunder or a Country Crush, you can do low row holds alternating with high rep pulldowns, or vice versa. When you can hold 300 lbs to your belly for over 30 seconds with the Country Crush, you’ll be on your way. Add in a burnout set of 50-100 reps in the vertical pulldown—you’ll be feeling it for awhile. After a few workouts, you can alternate angles.
  • For squats, there are always overweight holds, which everyone knows I’m a huge fan of. When I came back to powerlifting after a ten-year hiatus, I did not do a full squat (or even a half squat) for over three months. Instead, I did lockouts, gradually working up to as much as the barbell could hold. After that, I lowered the bar one pin per workout until I was completing full squats. In less than six months, I was able to squat 600 lbs with no knee wraps when I competed at my first meet back.
  • The treacherous part of a deadlift is the transition past the knees—humans are simply at a biological disadvantage in this motion. If you have some form of genetic advantage, such as long arms in relation to your body or a long torso with a decent range of motion, then this hazardous area can be safer for you than most. However, I believe it’s best to avoid the danger zone altogether. Rather than taking the risk, I raise the plates and do partials, I drop the bar from the knees, I do lockouts… I do anything and everything I can in order to avoid the transition past the knees so that I can focus on them leg biceps. I’ve never had a miss at the knees in competition, and I’ve never had a hammy issue either.
  • Sprint uphill a few times. If you can build a decent capacity while sprinting, you will see tremendous results. If you are a superheavyweight, all the better—you’ll get twice the results of a beginner or a lighter person with a faster metabolism, in a third of the time. And you could even prevent that first heart attack for awhile.
  • Americans are notorious for their weak rear delts, upper backs, and hamstrings because we tend to default to bench and bis everyday. These spots respond well to supercompensation, especially through plyometrics and heavy overload training. Find a place with a big trampoline—you will be amazed at what just a couple of bouts at a time will do.

You can also use mental techniques to supercompensate. Practice drawing or writing while listening to whatever turned up loud. Try motions—like a version of your regular workout modified for safety, or a little obstacle course, or even folding your laundry—blindfolded. There is a guy on YouTube called “Instructor Zero” who does extreme performance shooting drills, while wearing a plastic bag over his head or after leaving his hands in ice for extended periods of time. As with all things in life, you are your only real limitation. So get extreme! Get creative! But don’t be aimless. Supercompensation should be as systematic as possible. The goal is for you to overdo whatever you’re doing in a controlled manner.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“Challenge yourself beyond your perceived capabilities and be amazed at what you are capable of.”—General Stanley A. McChrystal