Training Wisdom From Mike Tyson
Posted on September 27th, 2011
Sometimes you find great advice in the most unexpected places.
During a routine evening of whinding down the hours on the internet, I came across the following quote.
“Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Now, on its face, it’s easy to disregard this as just another crazy statement from an all around crazy guy. But there’s actually a brilliant training lesson here.
When it comes to training discussions, I typically hear a few recurring threads.
“How often? How long? How many sets and reps? How do you plan it out your training? Should you plan it out? What about Crossfit? I’d like to also get stronger. Maybe I should try powerlifting? “Should I periodize? If so, should it be linear, undulating, conjugated…What do you think?”
Well, I think we can boil all of these questions down to two lessons.
1. When it comes to the essentials, have a clear plan
The great thing about getting stronger is that it makes you better at absolutely everything.
You obviously get better at lifting weights, but there is also carry over to running, swimming, jumping, rowing, fighting, skiing, cycling, cutting the grass, loading bags of mulch into your pick-up truck…Name it, and you could use some more strength.
But everybody has an opinion about how to develop it optimally. I am no different. If you ask me, I will tell you to you need to carefully plan out at least three days of your training week. On each of those days, you need to pick a variation of the squat, the press, and some sort of explosive pulling exercise.
Every session, work to a weight that is definitely heavy, but not too difficult. You’ll get no where by blowing your load while you try and stroke your ego. In the case of the pull, you should stay fast 95% percent of the time, but move the bar with all the violence you can muster.
Week to week, carefully inch the weight up 5-10 pounds at a time. Keep it up for 3 weeks, but treat the 4th week as your Sabbath and rest. This is the tried and true ramp, and it works damn well. Much better than randomly going into the gym, picking a random exercise, and doing random weights and numbers of reps…Trust me.
For all of you Crossfitters out there, I’m looking in your general direction.
2. When it comes to everything else, learn to take a punch
Crossfitters, I’m looking back in your general direction. When it comes to the second lesson…You’ve nailed it.
The first portion of each training session should be a planned approach, but then you need a second, random component. A painful, difficult, often humbling component.
The thing about careful planning is that you make a lot of progress. That means you adapt to the training. It means you get very good at the things you practice. It means training gets easier. Less challenging. Slowly, it gets less effective.
A good program will sometimes sucker punch you. It will expose you to exercises you do not want to do. Things you suck at. Things you maybe just wouldn’t think about on your own. As I often write about, this is your calibration.
So do the planned training, then take the rest of the session out of your own hands, and leave yourself at the whim of someone else. If you’re looking for general fitness, find a Crossfit blog and follow that training. Don’t bail on the hard stuff. Hold yourself accountable.
If you’re looking for more of a strength focus, try Crossfit Football or a comparable blog that offers scaled workouts. Again, whatever shows up there…do it!
You simply must plan in order to make steady, measurable progress. But make sure you can keep your composure when punched in the mouth.
When it comes maximizing physical and mental performance, this is the best possible strategy.