Training with Doubt Is Training Imprisonment

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Training with doubt is training imprisonment.

With every set and rep, you question what good it will do, where it will take you and what it will produce. No clear image emerges as you sit in your solitary confinement. You apply effort with restraint as suspicion confines you. You work out in shackles; your spirits are bound. Training passion and workout joy are stifled, strangled by your uncertainty and reserve.

I can paint a pretty grim picture when I want to make a point.

Doubt must be arrested and replaced with assertion and exhilaration. A confident state of mind must be chosen and adopted, then practiced and proven. You've got to believe in what you're doing, knowing that if what you're doing is not exactly right, it will still promote discovery, learning and growth.

It's near-impossible to determine which training program is the best and most effective to satisfy all your needs at any given time. These needs include -- separately, if not all at once -- muscle size, density, shape, definition, quality, might, swiftness, endurance and health. You reference your experience, observations, conversations and the written word found in books, magazines and web pages, and you formulate your scheme.

Oh, yeah, right. Information, like candy at the dime store, is abundant and nauseating, and an overload will give you a bellyache.

Remember: Stick to the basics, kids, and you'll never get sick.

A new plan works until the novelty wears off. I don't even want to begin to speculate how short-lived a workout love affair lasts in this day and age. We're an odd mob -- capricious, impatient, expectant, greedy, naive, indoctrinated and spoiled. Two, three weeks tops, and we're discouraged, depressed and desperate... Rats! According to my calculations, research and dreams, I shoulda yada yada... but instead, I'm nada yada yada.

Doubt is as sure as the rising sun, or more appropriately, the cold winter fog, the dark midnight gloom. Remove the stumbling block and replace it with a springboard. This is your game, your track and field, your platform.

Not every plan we put forward is exact and without fault. Stick to the plan. Make a few bold adjustments, substitute the bar with dumbbells, modify the rep scheme and apply intensity where you are able and reservation where you must. Reduce the pace, increase the weight. Be strong, don't doubt, go hard. Wondering is permissible -- nothing wrong with a little curiosity. But the doubt, the duct tape around the eyes and mouth, hands and feet, that must be removed.

No more doubt.

I remember when I was little kid, all I did was chin-ups, pushups and dips, and ran and rode my bike. No plan, urges only. No sets and reps, all I could do plus a little bit more was sufficient. No deep motives, big and strong muscles were plenty. No time limit, forever would do.

Now that might not be the advice a coach or parent would pass on to a sprouting youngster, but I wouldn't change it for all the muscle in the gym. Grab on, hold tight and go, go, go. A great phase in discovering oneself, exercise, muscle and might. This will pass, change will come, but not till the deed is done.

Sometimes we try to fix a thing that ain't broke...and ruin it forever.

Another time in my life when I was a big kid (this can be most any time since I was a little kid), and I'd walk into the gym with limited forethought, grab any iron that got in my way and lift it purposefully and intensely for 90 minutes and walk out refreshed, advanced and complete. The movements were like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle; they fit together smoothly, swift and sweet. Doubt did not enter the gym with me. I had plenty, but left it at the door like a pair of muddy boots.

Those were very good years. Question is, like the chicken and the egg, were they very good years because I didn't doubt, or because I didn't doubt they were very good years?

There must be a better word for doubt, in that we have collectively taken a stand against the disagreeable companion. Let's call it deception. Better yet, the Bible refers to the devil as the great deceiver; let's call doubt the devil. Doubt, deception, Satan -- mankind's arch enemies.

The variables of time and age fall from the sky like small meteorites. They are infrequent, dense, peculiar, can be damaging and certainly get our attention. Arthritis, pain of injury, muscle tears, limited range of motion, loopy hormones, swollen joints, tendonitis, weakness and fatigue -- these factors add new challenge (Ha!) to the once simple, constructive and entertaining sport of building muscle and might.

Some say they remove the challenge and spoil the sport, reducing it to the ongoing struggle for another day. Wow!! Take these bums outside the camp walls and put them out of their misery. They've gone from doubt to discouragement to hopelessness to goodbye-cruel-world.

Never! We are here to save souls. Take the motley crew to the gym, immerse them in exercise, smother them with encouragement and restore their deflated training zeal. Injury is a savvy instructor, pain is a smart and cautionary signal, and limitations are boundaries that direct and margins to exceed. They are tough training partners that respond positively to exercise performed vigorously and without doubt.

Look again: Vigorously and without doubt. Remember that when you step foot inside the gym door this week.



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