It was the first summer without "THE CABIN"..
For 35 years I spent summers at this special place. Our family get-away.
It was just over an hour drive. Out in the country. With the cows and the farms..
When you lose something it becomes even more clear how much it means to you.
I also realized how lucky I was to have it and the lessons I learned out there in the country are worth sharing.
Lesson 1 - Hard Work
Really? That's all you got for me, hard work?
I know it's been said many times but you and I both know it's the truth. Before you can point the finger at any excuse you better be putting in serious hard work.
We have all heard it so often from so many people that we tend to block it out.
We know to work hard. To build muscle. To burn fat. Get fit. To win. To achieve great things.
Chopping wood, knocking down trees, lugging firewood is hard, satisfying work.
I loved this work. It made me feel strong. Manly. In control. Confident.
Mowing the lawn on uneven terrain builds endurance and improves heart health. Drenched in sweat and then diving into the cool refreshing pond. Sometimes I felt like John Dunbar in Dances with Wolves. Minus the bare ass and the Indians.
How can you apply the lesson of hard work to your training? This is an obvious one right? Do some yard work?
That would be one way to go about it but if you have never done yard work and you are in your 30s or 40s it might not be a great idea to jump into a full day of bending over at the waist and twisting in awkward positions.
You may end up tweaking your back and then you'll be fighting a bigger uphill battle.
Let's start with building a foundation of strength first.
Make your workouts harder with sled dragging and loaded carries. Utilize sandbags, kegs, tires, ropes, thick bars.
Pick heavy weights up and walk short distances. Pick up moderate weights and walk faster for longer distances. Mix and match different weight and distances.
You can do these at the end of each session a few times per week or have one day fully dedicated to odd objects and sled dragging.
Make your training harder with more work in less time. No need to add on an extra half hour or more to your workouts. Reduce rest periods. Pair exercises together and do supersets and giant sets to maximize time in the gym and push yourself to the limit.
Lesson 2 - Get in Shape
We did a ton of walking at the cabin. Taking hikes on trails, walking up and down big hills. We also swam in the pond. Treading water, doing laps, jumping on and off the raft.
Plenty of good times being active and getting in that sunshine and fresh air.
The point is to get outside in nature. Swim in the ocean, lakes, ponds. Run up hills. Walk in the woods. Find trails and hike. Get on a mountain bike and ride!
Get outside and do it often. Make it a habit and it will become an integral part of your life. Walking around the neighborhood and downtown in a city is good, but there's a deeper benefit from getting out into the wilderness.
Lesson 3 - Sacrifice
Whatever you want to achieve, you have to give up something else.
There's no way around it.
I learned this first hand by watching my dad work at the cabin. My mom and other family members did their share also, but mainly my dad. He was the engine that kept the cabin running.
When I was younger, I took it for granted. But I don't now.
He gave up time, money and energy to build up the cabin and maintain it so we had a place to go in the summer to get away and relax.
When you are thinking about a big goal, you know you have to give something up. You want to get shredded? You will have to give up certain foods.
You want to compete at a high level, you will have to put in the time, often missing happy hour, parties with family, sports events.
To achieve anything worthwhile you will have to sacrifice.
Fitness gurus may tell you otherwise but the fact is you will need to choose. You can only be in one place at a time.
What are your priorities? To be social at the bar on a Friday night or to go train because strength doesn't know the difference between Monday night and Friday night at the gym.
4- Get Away
Plan some trips to get away. Even if you don't have a cabin in the woods or can't afford a vacation, find a park.
Go hike for a few hours.
Have a picnic. Turn off the phone, the computer, the radio,the tv. Get away 100%. We never had tv or computers at the cabin. We barely had a radio with one or two stations that came in. And I'm grateful we didn't.
Those things have their place in our modern lives, but take a break for a few hours or a weekend. Even on a smaller scale you can take a break while training.
Don't bring your phone into the gym. Stick to your workout. Stay away from the tv's between sets.
Visualize your next rep instead. Put all your energy and mental capacity into doing what you are there to do. Improve. Get stronger. Get better.
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