How's your attention?

The internet is a wonderful thing and it turns out that it is not just for porn! Every one of us can access research papers in medical sciences or strength and conditioning at the click of the mouse. We open our eyes and minds to more information than at any other time in histroy, Alexander's library contained less than a day's search history of the average primary school child. And yet, the cornucopia does not come with a user manual. We do not necessarily immediately have the requisite skill and training to separate the elixir from the snake oil. every trip to the ether puts us at risk from the next most vociferous programme.

It could just be a feature of our societal ADHD. Whether time management or prioritisation in the office; or the student who spends all of her time researching and none actually writing; or the person in training who flits from one programme to the next at two-weekly intervals, we see the hallmarks everywhere.

I think it may be a combination of lost priorities and forgetting about the hard yards, the groundwork (I am going to follow the sports thread here but bear in mind that I have, now I come to think of it, given suspiciously similar talks in a business setting. The people we look to, who are elevated to idol status or who we hold to be our role models are lauded for their talent. We see the end product, not the process to get there. Teen prodigy? Look a little deeper, you'll find that most are the product of years of youth teams and academies. But again, the training to this point is not the final seal. How many of the young guns make it all the way to be old pros? Not many and only those who adapt themselves and their game in all facets.

So we see out icon who trains in such and such and such a way. Then we look to the champion marathoners for their endurance capacity, so we try to factor in miles of road running. But we also want to look good naked, so we pick up a copy of "Guns, Buns and Juice" magazine (not the customer magazine of a supermarket in the Deep South) or visit testabolic.com (I hope that's not a real website!) and trawl their articles and a forum or two for some double super secret Eastern European programme guaranteed to give you a washboard, cannonballs and pecs like slabs. Then we notice that a movie star has trained in gymnastics for a role - and those guys are pretty ripped, so that's got to go in the mix. But wait, another pro apparently got to their shape on cabbage soup and sugary sports drinks, so that must be worth a go... Bruce lee and Jackie Chan are awesome, so show me some wheel kicks and spinning back flying toe holds. And the list goes on and on and on.

But that's not really the core of the issue. The problem is the illegitimate lovechild of Freddie Mercury and Veruca Salt of the chocolate factory fame - "I want it all and I want it now. Not later, I want it now". Nobody wants to spend hours in the horse stance or practising their passing or their scales. Nobody wants to hear that in order nail those multiples of bodyweight lifts they are going to have to focus on technique and address their deficiencies. It's not that they are defective, it is just part of the journey. But that is not sexy and few people want to hear it.

And we see something similar in players who turn up at pre-season badly out of shape or who miss most of pre-season and turn up badly out of shape. Or, as resolution season is in the mid-season for a lot of sports in the Northern Hemisphere, we get a mid-term glimpse of the same. And that is the desire to turn around conditioning and composition while at the same time not suffering a detriment to their game performance.

in these cases the pressure is very much on to get stuck into the meat, the vomit-inducing sessions which look dramatic and feel so unpleasant as to assure you that you are doing the right thing!

So we lift heavy. We do sprints. We do our metabolic conditioning. We spend hours on the pavements or treadmill or cross trainer. We practice throwing the flying elbow on the unattended punchbag and we congratulate ourselves on how beaten up we feel.

In truth, spasmodically bouncing between methodologies will make headway for you. Trying to hit everything will result in some progress. Everything works. For a time. Aye, there's the rub. Two things:
  1. Just because it works does not mean that it is ideal
  2. this will, categorically, not lead to mastery any time soon.

("Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis. Visit comics.com for much more)

Only you can decide whether good enough is good enough for your situation. I am not trying to be holier than thou, for the vast majority of us, good enough (so long as the mark is sufficiently high) will be more than adequate to see some performance improvement and health benefits. I do not know if that is right for your situation and your goals. If you want more though, you will have to do more; more thinking, more planning and more sustained implementation of the plan.

Will it be worth it? Again, I do not know. I only know the price, not the value. I can tell you this, knowing the parameters takes away the veil. If your expectations are more realistic, what you get should come as less of a surprise!

You need to go back to Brian May's lyrics - "got to get me a game plan!"

Can I really not have all that I want? Depends what you want my friend and what price you will pay.

Can you have it all? Possibly.
Can you have it all now? No.

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