Sometimes I find gems of wisdom in unexpected places. This was the case a year ago when I started a new strength training program called “StrongLifts 5×5”. I have no affiliation to them, but I am just a true believer in their program, and I am thankful for the constant reminder it provides. It’s based on a principle, that reaches far beyond strength training and into every other area of my life. This is the principle — focus on slow and steady progress.
Backstory: I have been into powerlifting for over 2 decades now but had gotten to a point where an injury and other reasons (mainly bad excuses) had kept me from doing much of any strength training for a while. So I was looking for a good system to get me back into it and keep me interested.
For most of us who are starting out or returning to an activity, goal, or venture, there is a huge temptation to get ahead of ourselves and go too far, too fast. That usually ends badly and we burn out, lose motivation, or if it’s is a physical area like lifting, we get hurt. Definitely a guilty party here. I’ve hurt myself trying to hit previous max lifts way too soon after being out for a while and it killed my progress.
StrongLifts provides some safeguards against this. First of all, it starts you off at a level that seems way too easy. In fact, for the first few weeks, the workouts don’t even seem very hard and you don’t get overly sore. But the beauty of the program is in the intentional slow and steady progression. You simply add 5 lbs of weight to your previous workout’s lift. So if you squatted X in a workout, the next time you do squats you put on X+5. Simple, effective, and most importantly sustainable progress.
Now all of this was not meant to get you thinking about strength training, but instead about how you view planning, progress, and success. As we are making plans for 2018, let’s not set ourselves up for failure by shooting too far, too fast. Let’s not take “all or nothing approaches” to areas of our lives or businesses. Instead, let’s take an approach in an area that will expect slow and steady results. As my pastor, Mike Grover, reminds us often, “God is more interested in the direction of our lives than the perfection of our lives.” With that in mind, my 2018 will be all about taking action to move in a sustainable positive direction and I am hoping the same thing for all of you in the upcoming year.