Solitary Truths

Lately I’ve trained alone. For one reason or another, my schedule hasn’t matched those that I normally train with. So on most days I drive to the gym and hoist iron in solitude; it’s been a powerful meditation. During my sets, while I’m actively moving weight, my mind is blank. There is nothing in the world but the task at hand; but during my rest periods thoughts abound. I welcome them all and let them come freely.

As Pandora’s box of mental energy has opened in my mind, I’ve solved four or five of the world’s biggest problems—most of the solutions follow the golden rule—and I’ve come to a broader understanding of many things; both in the weight room and in life. Most aren’t nominal or profound—but they’ve offered me clarity.

I’m not writing this to give you a rah rah speech or because I think I know more about life than you do. Most things baffle me. But you’ve taken time, presumably in the past, to read what I write so I think you deserve to know me a little better—at least through random conclusions that I’ve come to while intoxicated by a cocktail of sweat, iron and solitude.

Life is About Fun: We’re here to have fun—it’s the simple truth. Throughout my life I’ve let ambition dampen my perspective on how to have fun with every situation. Of course, not all situations are fun. I don’t want to meet the person that has fun at a funeral—unless, of course, the funeral was designed as a celebration of someone’s life. But in most other situations there is fun to be had. While we’re working, training and completing outwardly mundane tasks we can always choose to have fun. It’s a choice. I’ve chosen to cut the tension and have a good time.

People Need to Know You Love Them: Just say it—it’s simple. Don’t be abashed and don’t hold back. If someone means something to you, make sure they know it. If you aren’t saying it in a way that gets through to them, change your approach so you make sure they get it. Life is short and our relationships are everything. Make sure your friends, family and people that touch your life know how much you care about them and how much they mean to you. Don’t you dare let a day slip by without saying I love you.

Tension, Bar Speed, Motor Control: I’m going to talk a lot about these three training variables at the next Supreme Strength seminar—I’ve dubbed them the big three. Our body must learn efficient motor patterns and be able to replicate them with co-contraction and a high rate of force. This is what builds muscle and athleticism.

Forgive: Doesn’t matter what happened or who did it.

George Bailey had it Figured Out: People close to me know that It’s A Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite movie. Since I was a teenager, I’ve made sure that I watch the movie at least once per year. This year I decided to watch it twice—the first time was about a week ago.

I’ve always carried the lesson from the movie with me throughout the year—not dismissing it after the holiday season. But as I get older, the old black and white film is starting to mean more to me. We’re in this together. As Clarence the guardian angel in the movie wrote in the book that he gave to George Bailey, “No man is a failure who has friends.” Give selflessly.

Lats and Glutes: If they are strong and functioning well, you are going to be strong and athletic. Train the glutes with a ton of volume and train the lats to build and hold tension. This lesson has been pounded home by my good friend, and my current coach, Mike Ranfone.

Don’t Trust Absolutisms: I read a lot about training and nutrition, and I’ve noticed a lot of absolutisms. Folks claim that their way of doing things is the best and only way to accomplish a goal while rebuking every other option. I’m all for self-confidence, but I’m not just calling bull shit—I’m screaming it.

There’s always more than one way to accomplish anything. Sure, I have systems that I use and I know I’m damn good at what I do. But I don’t claim to be the end-all-be-all. Anyone that does is a charlatan and is not to be trusted. All the same—forgive them—they know not what they do.

Be Bold: Even if you fall on your face it’s worth taking a shot. Come out guns-a-blazin’ and go after it. It’s never a mistake.

Say it: Ten years ago at this time I was sixteen years old and playing football for what would be the first team in Mifflin County history to win a district championship. I wrote that for no other reason than to give you a time reference—those ten years passed quickly.

Time goes fast and so do our opportunities to express things that we need to get out. Get. Them. Out.

Second Chances (maybe even a third!): Traditionally, I’ve been terrible and giving people second chances. You cross me once and that’s it, you’re out of the will!

I’ve been wrong for a long time.

People deserve second changes—sometimes third and fourth chances. If we stop taking things personally and realize that by not giving people chances we are only hurting ourselves, well, then life gets a lot richer.

Be The Best Part of Someone’s Day: This isn’t new for me—I’ve been trying to do this for years. But I’m not always awesome at it. You never can be sure what someone else is dealing with—people often show very little of themselves. We only see the tip of the ice berg. It reminds me of a saying I heard a long time ago, “Be kind to everyone, for everyone is fighting a great battle.” My friend Peter from massage school reminded me of this saying last week.

Everyone has shit going on. It’s not difficult to give someone a smile, ask them how they are and give them a compliment.

Smile at Yourself: Ok, this is going to sound weird; but it’s awesome. Every time you walk by a mirror, smile at yourself.

We don’t have any mirrors in my gym, because we are super dudely, but we do have windows. For the past few weeks while I’ve trained alone, every time I’ve caught my reflection in the window I’ve smiled. It has made me feel great. I’m sure people driving by in their cars think I’m a fruit flavored nut bar, but I don’t give a shit. Try it out. It’s fucking cool.

Release without Reinforcement is Silly: Chiropractors, osteopaths and advanced body workers will read this and say, well, duh!

Releasing an adhesion or correcting muscle tension, without reinforcing a good motor pattern is bullocks. It’s like wearing ankle braces to play sports. Sure, your ankles feel more stable, but you’ve not fixed the actual problem.

The muscle has dysfunction for a reason. Find the true dysfunction and correct that. The problem is the nervous system—not the adhesion. If Dave Weinstock and Perry Nickelston read this they are going to be so proud.

I Swear A Lot: I’ve noticed in all of my rambling thoughts that I quietly, and often, think the word fuck. I’m not sure if this is cool or a problem. It might be a cool problem.

It’s Not Always Profound: It’s often that the truth isn’t profound. Mostly it’s shallow and right in front of our face. We have to be open and brave enough to accept it.

Thanks for taking the time to read some of my random musings.

Get Stronger,

Todd (1119)

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Todd Bumgardner
M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
Todd Bumgardner

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M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
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