Lessons Learned 2014 - John Welbourne

Original Article 

http://johnwelbourn.powerathletehq.com/2015/01/02/lessons-learned/ 

1. You make their own prisons in life, regardless of how much you want to blame those around you.

If 20 bucks or 60 minutes a day is what is preventing you from reaching your goals, get a new job or set an alarm clock. You have to make time for it. No goal was ever attained by just thinking about. No amount of dreaming gets your ass in shape.

I have a good friend that runs one of the largest mortgage companies in the country with a few hundred offices with a ½ billion in revenue. He has 3 kids, a wife and works 70 hours a week. The wakes up at 4 AM to train each day and hasn’t missed a day of training since 2005. He made the New Year’s resolution to not miss a day of training, which means 365 days a year of workouts, for a full year. Each year since 2005, he has made the same resolution and has kept it.

If it is important, you will find a way to make it happen. If $20 is the difference between success and failure, ride a bike, skip the bar one night a month, or brew your coffee at home and save the $1.45 at Starbucks.

If meeting your goals by fitting in your training into your busy schedule means you have to wake up at 4 AM to get in your training, throw away your TV and go to bed.

Because there are thousands of people meeting their goals by prioritizing what is important, waking up early and making it work. I always smile when I see a video of a guy squatting in his home garage gym at 5 AM with snow on the ground.

Whining about 20 bucks makes you sound like an unsuccessful fucking loser. And complaining you can’t find 60 minutes a few days a week to train makes you sound like a lazy incompetent fuck.

2. No amount of supplements, macronutrient timing or stretching will replace sleep and sunlight when it comes to performance.

 

Sleep is the single best thing you can do to keep the notches in the win category. But just looking at sleep as the time with your eyes closed is looking at superficially. You need to take it a step further and work within your circadian rhythms to reap the benefits of sleep. And sunlight plays a vital role in healthy circadian rhythms.

For those of you frantically googling “circadian rhythms”, they are regulated by small nuclei in the middle of the brain. These small nuclei are called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and act as a control center. The SCN are connected to other parts of the brain where they work together to control circadian rhythms. A pathway runs from your eyes to the SCN. Your exposure to sunlight plays a massive role in setting your circadian "clock." Sunlight and other time cues are used to keep your clock set from day to day which runs in 24 hour cycles.

A healthy sleep cycle for a person that gets enough direct sunlight a day is between 10 PM and 2 AM, with a second sleep cycle from 2 PM to 4 PM. The sleep between these hours is the most vital for you as an athlete.

People that don’t get enough sunlight a day, just don’t end up with Vitamin D deficiency but shitty sleep and recovery. And in case you weren’t’ aware, Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and allowing the body to use calcium.

This is where number 13 on my list from 2013 came from, “it is better to live like a farmer than a bartender.”

This statement caused a lot of butt hurt when I posted it two year ago. My stance has not changed. Farmers have to go to bed early because they wake up when the rooster crows and they have to get their work done before the sun goes down. Bartenders go to bed late because bars close at 2 AM (in most places), sleep late because that is what happens when you go to bed at 3 AM and work in the neon light.

3. "Don’t miss the forest for the trees."

 

I find examples of this daily in my life. People get so stuck in the minutia they never see the big picture. I had the opportunity to attend an MBA weekend through the NFL a few years ago and met several people that were influential on me. One of them talked about the difference between the captain and the crew. The captain stands on the deck of the ship and must be able to see the shore through the fog. The crew only knows the task laid in front of them by the Captain and only succeeds if the Captain steers them safely to shore.

I see this no more frequently than when it comes to training and lifting weights. People get so stuck in the minutia of training and diet they forget that much of the progress and work is done with the basics.

One of the first questions I get asked about any program is what assistance work should be done. When it comes to nutrition, it is always what supplement to take.

How about just squatting, pressing and picking up a heavy barbell? How about doing that 3-4 days a week for a few months, and then check back with me? Instead of asking what supplements you should take, how going to the meat counter and buying ground beef in 5 pound bundles? Take it home, cook, eat it, when it runs out go back and buy more. Do that for a few months then lets see how far you have come.

Be a captain.

4. “Everyone pities the weak, jealousy you have to earn.” - Arnold

 

This quote is more applicable today than it was when Arnold first made it. In today’s world, a person can create an entire persona via social media and blogs (like this one) while never venturing out of the comfort of their home.

Sadly, the world is full of people that make themselves feel better about their sub-par, shitty existence by putting down others and being negative. These are the people that dismiss an 800 pound squat because the depth didn’t produce splinters in their ass, yet shit out their spines when they get taco'd with 225 lbs on their back. These same keyboard warriors discredit everyone that is stronger and in better shape to taking drugs. Reminds me of the media in the National Football League. Every week I would see these obese, out of shape reporters waddle into the locker room for a story only breaking to shovel down donuts and hot chocolate. A few days later their columns and stories would come out where these “models of athletic achievement” would curb stomp my team's performance and effort on the field.

 

Remember, you earn jealousy...wear it like a badge of honor.

5. Consistency.

Each year that passes, it affirms my belief that consistency is the key to success whether it is personal, financial or physical. If you make a plan, regardless of whether it was a good plan or bad, follow it. It has to take you farther than sitting on your sorry ass.

I have client who is forever making excuses. I honestly, have never met anyone who has to the volume of excuses he has. The hard part is he acknowledges it and owns it, yet he never makes the change. He will never meet his goal to retake his life as long as he keep making excuses.

6. Don’t be afraid to fail.

 

I tell my girls this every day whether is teaching them to ride their scooters, working on their swimming or simply coloring. Paralysis prevents most people from ever realizing their dreams. And I want to instill in my kids fear is something you face head on, you never turn your back on it. As Hunter S. Thompson said, "never turn your back on fear. It should be always be in front of you, like something that might need to be killed."

7. Speed.

 

Speed is the single most important deciding factor among athletes. When you train this should be at the forefront of your mind. Over the last two years, every time I have touched a weight, the goal has been to move that weight or implement fast as possible.

Have you ever seen anyone in the Olympics snatch the weight slowly for a gold medal?

Does the guy that runs the slowest 40-yard test at the NFL combine get drafted?

8. Erectors are the new biceps, hamstrings are the new black.

 

The gold standard for the athletes I train is a set of erectors that look like loaves of French bread and a set of hamstrings like steel cables.

The spinal erector muscles run the length of the back, from the sacrum to the base of the skull. When working unilaterally, the erectors work to laterally flex the spine. When working bilaterally, they work to extend the head and spine.

Hamstrings play a vital role in generating power between the hip and knee during dynamic movements. When an athlete jumps, the hip knee, and ankle don’t extend all at once but in sequence. The hamstrings are the first to be activated and if they are weak and lack adequate strength or coordination, this sequence will be altered and performance will decrease. Simply, if you want to run faster, jump higher and drive a motherfucker through a wall, train the hamstrings.

9. You can still get fat eating organic, free range, grass-fed, all natural foods. At the end of the day, if you want to be a smaller version of yourself, you are going to have expend more calories than you shovel down your gullet.

10. Gather the low hanging fruit.

 

Earlier this year, Compex contacted me about their EMS (electric muscle stimulation) unit and how I would incorporate it in my training program. Having used EMS protocols influence by Charlie Francis’s training, I was very familiar how to use it for performance but had not come across a unit this comprehensive. We started using the Compex units in our training and have seen results that far exceed expectation.

EMS fires all the motor units the current comes in contact with. This translates to a stronger muscle contraction and the recruitment of more motor units than what is possible during normal training. Where things get interesting is when you combine this non-specific muscle fiber firing with specific/unique firing patterns. The EMS teaches the body to recruit more muscle fibers, which when used in conjunction with a comprehensive strength and conditioning program results in big performance leaps. I count this as low hanging fruit, as incorporating it in your training will pay massive dividends.

11. Leave this world a better place.

 

In 2012, we started Wade’s Army to bring awareness and raise money to aid in the fight against neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer developing in the nerve tissues. For those of you that have never heard of neuroblastoma, it is the most common form of pediatric cancer and not much is known about it. Neuroblastoma made headlines this year, when NFL player Devon Stills' daughter was diagnosed with it. In 2012, we raised 18k and donated the money to pediatric cancer charity. Last year, we doubled that number and were able to fund a treatment for 90 children with this rare from of pediatric cancer. This year acting as a 501(c)3, we exceeded out goal of raising 50k and will donate to families battling neuroblastoma and funding research. I want to thank everyone that joined Wade’s Army and let you know that your support means the world to my family.

12. Training is a long slow road.

 

And it requires you to prepare for your long journey by learning the basics. If you never take the time to learn the basics, you will fall for every lie and piece of bullshit charlatans peddle. Nine out of 10 times, the most successful plans are the simplest ones. Stop dieting and make food quality a lifestyle. Stop exercising and start training. People who exercise just want to get sweaty; training implies you have a plan and a goal.

John