The 9th Commandment

Happy Monday, everyone.  I hope your weekend was as restorative as mine.

Continuing our series on Dan John’s Ten Commandments of Lifting, let’s look at the 9th Commandment, “Put the bar on the floor and pick it up a bunch of different ways.”

Chip Conrad, of Bodytribe, first brought this one to my attention, it’s his favorite, and with good reason.  This is the bedrock of creative lifting, and if it’s not already, should be the cornerstone of all Mental Meathead’s training rituals.

Yes, I said ritual, not routine, I’ll get to that in a minute.  First, Mental Meathead.  As a reader of these humble musings you, gentle reader, qualify as a Mental Meathead.  Before you become offended, though, let me explain.

Meathead has historically been used as a term of derision, a slur if you will, for those of us who are obsessed with the development of strength.  To the uninitiated this appears the ultimate vanity, time spent in the development of attributes no longer “necessary.”

Mental Meathead I chose as a term of my own empowerment.  I am a meathead.  I spend all day, everyday, in my gym, developing myself and helping my clients do the same.

Mental is a play on words.  First, is the literal, mental = mind = thinking.  We are thinking meatheads.  I’m not content to just lift weights, to blindly follow Westside Barbell or Wendler’s 5-3-1 or whatever program is top of the list at T-Nation.  I’m passionate about my development and weightlifting is my chosen vehicle, the aforementioned resources are all valuable and have their place, but as part of a discussion.

I think about what I do.  I experiment and I explore, hypothesize and experiment.  I play.

Which brings me to the other side of mental.  In British slang it means crazy, touched, “a little off.”  It is this unpredictable aspect, the mad scientist, the artist, the fool that I also want to bring into play, because in creativity true growth happens.

So, this is where the idea for Mental Meatheads comes.  I invite you to be a Mental Meathead, too.

Ritual.  Once again, this comes from Chip and may be the crux of what I’m trying to get across.  In his essay, Routine vs Ritual, Chip points out the usual term for an exercise program is a routine.  The problem is routines are stale, the same thing done in the same way over and over.  This isn’t growth.

Rituals are alive, they’re dynamic and imbued with significance.  If your training is about your own personal growth then your training cannot be stale, it cannot be routine.  By transforming your training with the significance of ritual, you breathe life into it.  It becomes dynamic, alive.

Dan John’s 9th Commandment is a great reminder of these principles.  Don’t obsess over the rules, they’re more like guidelines, anyway.  How many different ways can you pick up the bar?  Once you know the basics, understand the guidelines, use them as a launching pad for further creativity and development.

Stay strong.

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Filed under Fitness, Motivation, Movement, Personal Development, Personal Training, Recovery, Strength, Strength Training

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