I have said this time and time again. If you want to get stronger, faster, bigger and better looking, you need to spend more time understanding how to repair yourself, and less time worrying about how to do the damage.
Everyone in these pursuits wants to know the "best way" to get strong. Everyone wants to know the "best way" to diet. And the way these ideas are represented is as something you do "to yourself," or something you "put into yourself." They encourage you to look mainly at the input. But that is the wrong focus. To get ahead, you need to better understand the results; you need to place the majority of your focus on the output, not on the input. Once you understand the results, you can create a plan of managing those results. And that plan is most often a process of healing.
Sorry guys. You can talk all you want about what you can "do" – how big you lifted, how tight you got your abs, how amazing you performed – but the results come not from what you are able to do, but rather from understanding just what it is you've just done – and how to take care of it.
The topic was brought up by Will from the team The Beast recently in a question he posed to me:
"Being the best healer has had me fascinated since you put it up. How do we improve our ability to heal? My guess would be through a clean diet, plenty of sleep, a lot of water, and proper training. Am I anywhere near the mark on this one?"
My answer was more or less a repeat of the above point. (Excuse a little reiteration here, but I really feel that this concept can not be stressed enough.)
As with all things (and you have to see this one coming), it starts with observation. As much observation as possible. In other words: confronting each question with some sort of research:
"What needs to be healed?"
"In what specific ways has my body been damaged?"
"What are methods other people use?"
It frustrates me that so many bodybuilding and strength athletes just refuse to lay claim to the most essential component to the process: "the best bodybuilders are the best at healing themselves, not the best at damaging themselves."
Everyone is busy bragging about what they can do, But few are discussing how they take responsibility for what they have done.
Healing the body is no small idea. There are endless combinations of a multitude of systems at play. However, the good news is there are basics common to us all. Thorough rest, nurturing food choices and preventive warm-ups and cool downs are what immediately comes to mind.
However, the single biggest obstacle to healing is – you guessed it – your mind. More precisely: the will of your mind.
You are "convinced" of many things in life. And once you become convinced of a thing, well, it is rare that you will go in the opposite direction of your convictions. However, it is very possible that we are sometimes convinced of things that work against our ability to achieve our goals, yet we are unaware of the conflict because we are "convinced" we are doing right.
Know what I mean?
And so many athletes are simply "convinced" that they need to train harder, lift more, and workout more frequently. They believe deeply – to the very fabric of their being – that they must do more.
And doing more means more damage to the body.
And then, because you are so busy doing more, you don't have the proper time and resources to heal from all that additional damage.
Yet without healing, you will remain small or weak or slow or fat – or any other quality that you are trying to overcome.
So what do you do next? You start looking for more to do. You start asking for more; more training ideas, more diet strategies, more weight, more effort, more work – more, more and more! Rather than look at what you have done and how you could be taking better responsibility for the damage, you instead are convinced that the problem is you need to do something else; something more.
And you get stuck in that spiral.
You see how conviction works against us? We get convinced of one idea, and then by operating under that idea we get stuck in a loop. Only by confronting that conviction – and often perhaps shattering it and rebuilding it – will the cycle end, and we will begin progressing once more.
Conviction is the culprit behind the majority of slow progressions. Our stubborn, confident, certain minds with it's glorious, golden and pristine thoughts is actually working against what we need to grow: better healing.
(Notice how I said "better" healing. Not "more" healing.)
So, as I told will, the first step is observation. Not hasty, broad observation. Not "I'm-convinced-I-already-know-what's-there-so-I-can-skip-this-step" observation. Careful, thorough inventory-style observation.
- What damage has your training done to your muscle cells?
- What damage has your training done to your joints; your tendons and other connectors?
- What damage has your training done to your nervous system?
- What damage has your training done to your motivation, your interest or your enthusiasm?
- What damage has your training done to your schedule?
- What damage has your has your training done?
There are countless other questions you can ask to prompt your observational inventorying. And with each question you have the root of more questions; each question gets more and more specific.
And this is where research begins. The better the questions, the more specific your study, and true more precise your answers. (Not to mention you get more of them – not all "more" efforts are bad ones.)
Before you go looking for more, look at what you got. Before you go looking to do more, look at how you can take better responsibility for what you have done. You will quickly discover that the one thing common to all the questions is some form of better healing, not better assaults of damage. And that healing leads to better growth, more strength, and probably a damn happier person.
The best bodybuilders are the best healers. They are not always the most skilled lifters. They are not always the most scientific eaters. They are simply the best at healing themselves, and thus getting ahead.
I have said it time and time again.