Discipline in Life and Lifting

I am a huge proponent of the saying, “Discipline is bullshit.” This is based on cutting edge psychology science, which tells us that everybody has a limited store of willpower. You can’t depend on willpower alone to get you through your workouts or through life. You need a system. A system is a set of rules and directives which direct your energy in a given direction. The key to success is to follow prescribed systems as much as possible to free up your limited willpower for those times when you really do have to make a decision.

In my “real job” I’m a supply chain professional who is an expert in Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma is a collection of tools that allows one to dramatically improve performance by changing one small thing every day. This same philosophy can be used to improve your own discipline.

Now at this point, you may be expecting me to apply this to your lifting, but I’m not going to do that. There are many systems already available to apply to your lifting – the Nephilim Barbell Program is one of them. Instead, I am going to apply this concept to the rest of your life. What you will find is that having the discipline of small, incremental improvement in your regular life will spill over into your lifting without any effort at all. In much the same way that meditation and kata influence each other in the master kung-fu monk, practicing small improvement in your regular life will pattern your thinking in ways that improves your strength goals as well.

To improve your mindset and quality of life, try this simple exercies for three months.

First, collect a list of virtues. I suggest using Ben Franklin’s virtues, as they are ready made and you don’t have to think about it (see? That’s a system, too). Second, meditation on them every morning for five minutes. Third, each Sunday select one and come up with one small habit around that virtue. Every week move on to the next virtue and perform the same ritual. For example, if the selected virtue is “temperance”, you may choose to not eat after 7pm. Focus solely on that for one week, and afterword, maintain it as a habit forever. This is a great way to get your mind into the groove of small, sustainable improvement.

It won’t be long before you start applying this to your lifting. Pick one habit to change in your workout – it might be a tweak in form, or timing, or nutrition – and focus solely on that for  a week while maintaining everything else status quo. In no time, you will see dramatic improvements in your gains. Keep up the good work, and as always – lift strong.