It’s February and that means 80% of you have already failed your New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe the goal was a shitty one and not that important anyway. More likely, it was something you really wanted to achieve, you just didn’t prioritize it properly and create the correct habits required for progress.
So, you are already off track 6 weeks into the New Year. What should you do? Wait until a few weeks before summer then go hardcore into your fitness program? Push eating right until next year, then finally make that change? Wrong and wrong! Get back on it now!
Remember, we are after long term, compounded progress when it comes to bettering ourselves. What we do today to improve is far more important than how far we are from a goal. As James Clear states in Atomic Habits, “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or the day before. What matters is what happens today, tomorrow, the following day, and so on. Clear also states that goals are fantastic to set the direction, but “the systems we put into our lives are where real progress lies.”
What happens if we get off track one day, after a few weeks, or never even get started at all? Have a short term memory. The past doesn’t need to foreshadow our future. Move on and make the changes you need to do today. If you miss a day of your habit or the system you’ve implemented to achieve your goals, that’s okay. Move on and get back to them the next day.
Many have the issue of wanting to create systems that align with their goals, but (fill in the blank excuse) keeps getting in the way. Ask yourself, what is more important to you and is this going to lead you closer to your goal? If it’s not, then it needs to leave your life to allow for an open slot for a positive habit. In Essentialism, author Greg McKeown states, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” In other words, your day is likely filled with a whole lot of shit that doesn’t truly matter. If being a healthy weight is important to you, then name all the things you do on a daily basis that either (1) get in the way of that goal or (2) are taking up time needed to work towards that goal.
Here’s a simple test for many of us who don’t have enough time to cook for ourselves and/or exercise daily. For one day, log every minute spent aimlessly on social media, browsing the internet, or watching TV. The vast majority of you will come up with a number large enough to fill in a number of healthy activities each day. Yes, a CrossFit class takes an hour, but doing as many squats, pushups, and situps you can do in 10 minutes takes only 10 minutes. You have time to exercise. You have time to cook. You need to prioritize and create positive habits over the bad, immediate reward habits that you’ve already created.
Constantly question the habits and actions you take daily. Ask yourself if this aligns with your goals and the person you want to be. “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no “ McKeown states. “There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake; after all, we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were.” Whether your bad habits, actions, or failures were in the past or the inevitable mistakes to come, never give up on yourself.
Remember, as stated above, we are after our trajectory, not immediate results.
Remember winners and losers have the same goals. Simply worry about today. What will you do today to put you on a path to your goals? Will you win the day or be a loser?
(1) Luciani, Joseph. “Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.” US News. Dec. 29, 2015. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail
(2) Clear, James. “Atomic Habits.”
(3) McKeown, Greg. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.”
As I have said before, all of us have different goals. One of us may want to compete at the sport of CrossFit, another to look good at the beach, and others be able to play sports with their kids (or all the above!). Many of us want to be stronger. Lifting heavy prevents muscle degeneration, increase anabolic hormones that burn fat and increase muscle, helps us burn a ton of calories, and makes carrying the cooler to the beach a hell of a lot easier. Gaining strength, contrary to popular belief, does not make the muscles larger (muscle hypertrophy), rather increases the strength of the contractile proteins, actin and myosin, within the muscle fiber.
This week, we will be beginning a 12 week program is based heavily on the power lifting program by Jim Wendler that he named the 5/3/1. We have done this program once before and had amazing results. We will be including the 4 major lifts for this program (Back Squat, Bench Press, Shoulder Press, and Deadlift) into our class workouts 1-2 times a week. Lifting heavy is important, but not vital for the masses to do on a daily basis. That's why if getting stronger is your primary goal, you'll need to stay after and do some extra work. For the majority of us, the 1-2 times a week of heavy lifting will be plenty to help us reach our fitness goals.
This program utilizes our 1 rep max (RM) to create a percentage based linear program that emphasizes starting light, progressing slowly, and breaking personal records (PRs). I have adapted the essentials of this great power lifting program to fit into our strength goals as CrossFitters: get stronger while still increasing our overall fitness across broad domains.
In our 12 week program, every 4 weeks we repeat a similar rep scheme and percentages of our 1 RM. Out of the 7 sets we are focusing on, the first 4 sets are performed at low load with the focus on technique. As we build, we warm up into our final 3 working sets. The last set, set 7, will be completed until failure, with a goal of hitting a new multi rep PR. This way we are essentially testing each week, trying to hit new PRs and pushing our bodies to the limit. Side note, the limit is our body’s limitations through the movement with perfect form. If technique is not achieved, load and repetitions should not be increased.
Week 1 works around working sets of 5 reps, Week 2 features working sets of 3 reps, and Week 3 features the programs namesake, 5/3/1+ reps. Week 4 is a deload week designed to give our body a rest and let our strength recover. The goal of this week is to go light and pick one thing to improve. Film yourself or have a friend film you. Check out your form and work on that one goal for the day in that particular lift. Trying to set PRs everyday will quickly lead to plateaus at best and injuries at worst. After 4 weeks, we repeat this process with slightly more loads each week.
Is this the only way to get stronger? NO WAY! There are tons of amazing programs that strength coaches utilize to get their athletes to peak performance. What they do all have in common however is emphasizing great technique, increasing loads as time progresses, adding in accessory work to strengthen secondary movers and retesting performance over time. We will use a variety of these techniques at Aspire Sports Lab with one goal always in mind: make you a better, more well-rounded, athlete.
In Atomic Habits we encounter a story about a university photography class that was divided into two groups – one would be graded based on the number of pictures they took, and the other half graded based on one picture. The question was this – which students would take a better picture? The ones who took as many pictures as they could or the ones that focused solely on one amazing image? Ultimately, the students who were graded on their volume of photos ended up taking better overall photos. The shear reps they took produced better results. The same goes with everything in life, how often you do something directly correlates with your chances of success. You need reps.
Now if we are looking to achieve success at the gym, we need reps. To get reps, we need to show up and attend workouts. We did a little analysis of our members who had Unlimited Memberships last month and frankly, we were pretty disappointed by the results. Here’s what we found:
Average Daily Class Attendance: 49.1% of Unlimited Members
Committed Club Members (20+ classes/month): 23% of Unlimited Members
Those two metrics for us are huge. Just under 50% of all of our Unlimited Members showed up daily. To get results, this NEEDS to be higher. We want to create a goal of 60%+ daily attendance for the month of February. Additionally, 23% of our members came 20 or more times a month. We would like to see this number at over 30% in February.
As a gym, we are 100% going to dive into these metrics to see if there are any gaps we can fill to increase attendance. Our business model is not based on people not showing up like many other gyms, rather we want members to show up and get results. We also however want our members to look introspectively at themselves – Are you attending enough workouts to obtain the results you desire?
Whether you attend our CrossFit classes or not, do a similar analysis for yourself. How much are you showing up? How many reps are you getting in? Don’t seek that one amazing workout like the folks in the photography class study did, instead do like their counterparts and seek volume. Reps are where the results are.
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.