Bring Your Strength to the Highest Levels Without Actually Pushing Your Limits

Posted on 03 Nov 2014 20:55

So, you want to get real strong, do you? Then, why in the world are you here on this page? If you are attracted to the idea of achieving great physical strength without actually exploring the limits of your physical strength, then you are not attracted to strength training! You see, the title is nonsense. Why did I choose it? Because it mirrors the titles, or the themes, of the majority of articles about strength training on the web.

If you saw the title of this article and thought, "what the crap?" and then clicked on it to see what in the world was going on with this idiot on this website, I'm with you. Sorry to have screwed with you, but at least now we're on the same page!

Many of the most popular messages in fitness are those that claim you can do extraordinary things with minimal effort. And, just as there is a glut of 5-minute-abs products and the like, there are many strength training huxters with messages about instant and easy strength.

Maximum strength is a distinct aspect of human performance. Not everyone, it is true, who does strength training or resistance training is really concerned with maximum strength. Many are interested in improving their physique, or feeling better, or even functioning better in daily life. Maybe they just want to feel stronger and be in better shape. Well, here is the thing, you don't need a "strength coach" for that! You may not even need a trainer, but if you do need help then any qualified and experienced personal trainer should do. Do your homework and ask questions, but one of those questions probably is not going to be "Can you help get me to a 500lbs deadlift?"

On the other hand, if you are going to a person like me because you are concerned with the shape of your butt, you are seeking advice from the wrong person. See, I can, of course, give you a list of exercises that will "work your glutes" (doesn't take a genius), but physique goals are not my area and I what I DO is maximum strength. Well, I don't do it anymore. I've decided to no longer be a part of the fitness industry. Why? Well, are you seeing what is happening here? Here is a guy telling you that his area of interest and expertise exists in the very limited realm of picking up very heavy things. I would never get rich that way, would I? Yet, there exists a world of "trainers" whose interests actually lie EVERYWHERE ELSE but in maximum strength, who will happily take a guy who wants to get hella strong and train him like a person who is concerned with the shape of their ass! Everybody is learning to avoid risk but still reach their strength goals. It's disgusting to me.

There is Nothing Wrong with Just Exercising!

Yes, there are trainers like that. But, most people don't hire trainers. Not something that the industry loves anyone to say. Most people don't hire, nor do they need, professional trainers. But, a lot of those people who exercise, or strength train, or stay active, certainly do read articles about fitness, exercise, and strength training. Many of those people also have vaguely defined goals and are wavering in what direction they want to take.

Now, first, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just exercising with vaguely defined goals! More people should feel "free" to exercise the way they'd like, without any lofty "fitness expert" bullshit to muddy the works. If you've heard the message that you need to be more active, but are stymied by all the complicated and daunting information on HOW to do that, then just stop. Stop being confused. Go do what you like. If you need some advice, seek some advice, but it is damn sure OK to just exercise! Have fun! You'll get in better shape and you'll probably feel a lot better. At some point, as well, you'll probably learn more about the kinds of things you enjoy, or that have intrinsic value for you, and you'll gravitate toward those things, and perhaps towards more specific goals. As plans go, that's a good one, in my book.

I am against the messages that the fitness industry is sending out, which have to do, frankly, with how precious and self-involved the fitness industry is rather than any real desire to actually reach the majority of people who need to be more fit. I've written about this in Inventing the Couch Potato.

So You Say Your Goal Is Strength?

Strength is continually being given newer and vaguer definitions by so-called fitness pros. It's like that with all aspects of performance, in fact. The more equivocal you can make things, the less actual expertise you have to bring to the table! If "strength" is "anything you want it to be," it is, in reality, nothing at all that we can actually discuss as if it is a discrete entity. Kind of makes it seem that most of the articles about strength on the web are nonsense, doesn't it? Strength is anything you want it to be?

Then why are you writing articles about it?

So, let's assume that when you say your goal is strength, you mean maximum physical strength. There is only ONE way to express maximum physical strength. Drum-roll, please…

You guessed it, right? The only way to express maximum physical strength is to use some form of maximal resistance. If your chosen means are free weights, as for most of us, then your goal is to lift the heaviest weight possible on a given lift. This means, of course, that physical strength is also specific to the task. Achieving new strength on a certain lift does mean you are more strong in general, to a certain extent, but to a much greater extent, it means you are stronger on the specific lift. Most people, then, who do strength training for absolute strength, end up picking certain things that they want to get better and better at. They realize that a goal of "general maximum strength" is too vague for any actual training plans to be developed from it!

Notice, however, that I said they "end up" picking particular lifts or implements that they like best, and centering their goals on those things. Of course, those things may change over time, but, the point is during any one period of time an experienced trainee of absolute strength has centered his or her attention on a handful of particular lifts (if not just one).

My Miniscule Audience

So, imagine my potential audience for this article if it were aimed at those trainees. I've started with a very small subset of 'exercisers' (either potential or active), and I've narrowed that audience down to an even smaller subset who have been training long enough to have discovered those lifts they like the best, and realized that they must have particular priorities to achieve true absolute strength. Since many "lifters" NEVER realize this, my potential audience is tiny. Miniscule, in fact.

The Perfect Customer

Nevertheless, there is a much larger audience that I could aim to reach. Let's look at this from a sells perspective. If you had a website aimed at selling a particular product, what would be the best visitor to that website? If we suppose there are two basic types of visitors (of course there are many types) it becomes very easy to choose your ideal visitor:

1. A visitor who is thinking about buying something but they don't have any idea yet what they want to buy. They are just "shopping."

2. A visitor who is thinking of buying your product, or a product in the category of products you sell and is primed for the purchase.

Pretty easy to choose, isn't it? You want visitor number two. Maybe they already read a review of your product on another site and clicked a link to get to your online store. Or, maybe they have a very specific interest, profession, or hobby which coincides with your products, so they are much more likely to buy your type of product than a casual or random shopper. If you've designed your store well, they are so much more likely to buy what you are selling then visitor number one that there is no contest.

If we hold a "general interest fitness audience" as visitor number one, I would be silly to aim for that audience! They are likely to stop by for a second, get bored, and move on to the next thing that catches their attention. They are generally interested in fitness, but they only have vague ideas of what that means or what they might choose to do. They are window shoppers. They will probably not find my article, being that it is so specific, as more interesting than any other window dressing, and, more importantly, they don't have a lot of preconceived notions, so they are not looking to buy into anything.

I want the visitor, then, who represents visitor number two. This is a visitor who has been primed to buy what I'm selling! Notice that we even have two types of visitors of the second variety. One is interested in a very specific product. That is great if you are actually selling a very specific product. But the other type is interested in a general category of products. For me, this may be the best visitor yet.

The question is, does this visitor exist for the category of "strength?" Absolutely! This potential audience is much wider than the audience of people who have been training long enough to have learned what they are about, what lifts they like. This audience does not yet know that you have to pick specific goals to develop your absolute strength. This other audience isn't even able to differentiate between "strength" from a fitness standpoint and "absolute strength" from a specific performance standpoint.

This audience has been "primed" with vague ideas about strength and fitness. They have heard messages about strength based on the general fad of strength. They have, perhaps, been generally led to believe that strength is an important thing and will have benefits.

But, they really don't have more than a passing idea of what this all means to them. They are certainly impressed by people lifting big weights, but maybe they are also part of the general population who attaches a negative stereotype to people labeled as meatheads. They are, in fact, really just part of a general fitness audience who has been subject to demand creation. They are demanding information about a thing they didn't even know they needed until they started seeing it popping up all over the place!

Within that audience is a slightly smaller subset, but still much larger than the absolute strength audience. These are people who have begun "strength training," with fairly vague goals. These are trainees who mess around with lifting, and anything else that is labeled strength. They haven't, as it were, found themselves.

This audience is just as likely to be attracted to a glorified 'pretty ass' exercise or sliding around on a slippery thing as they are to be attracted to training an actual lift for the purpose of developing an actual skill. These are people who are not only the people who you can get to buy into what you are selling, but to be your ambassadors! You can count on the fact that they generally want something better than what they have, but are not yet so committed to any particular direction or goal that you can't tell them exactly what they want to hear!

The Blender Audience Vortex

I've identified two potential strength training audiences. One that is very tiny and pretty much knows exactly what they mean when they say strength. Another which is huge but isn't committed to one idea or one expression of strength. I've said that the second audience is a much more desirable audience for one who wants to sell ideas to as many people as possible. Not only is the potential audience much wider, it is much more receptive. The first audience has a full cup, after all.

But, I've also implied that the second audience can be molded and shaped. I've said that they can become not only your audience but that they will be your ambassadors. What this means in the webernet world is that they will be your "devoted followers" and they will help your content go viral. You want your content to go viral. So, how do you exploit this potential?

You use the blender vortex ploy. The first small audience consists of already experienced blender owners. They've gone through maybe three or four blenders already and they kind of know what makes a good blender and what is irrelevant to a good blender. They know that many of the supposed differences in different brands of blenders are not differences at all. They know, for instance, that there is no difference between five speeds and five settings.

The people in the second wider audience are not experienced blender owners. They are kind of in the market for an appliance, and they think that maybe a blender would be cool to own. Can you reach this audience by telling them that your blender is actually pretty much the same as any other blender, in that it will "blend" things to different levels? Probably not a good marketing strategy. They are not even sure they want a blender, and you are telling them that a blender is, indeed, nothing special, let alone your specific blender.

So, how do you reel them in? You have to understand them. You have to make it not about the blender, but about them. The more information you can get about your potential customer base, the better. But in the absence of information, you can guess at a few things. You can guess that, while they want an appliance, they aren't convinced they want a blender, but a blender is not yet considered a bad idea in their minds. They are open to blenders. You can also guess that they are open to ANY blender. Then, think about what else they, or anyone, for that matter, might also like.

1. Everybody wants things to be easier and to work better.
2. Everybody wants things to be more convenient.
3. Everybody wants things to reflect well on themselves, as individuals.
4. Everybody wants things to make sense.

Let's start with number four. You identify a customer who is not opposed to the idea of a blender. Blenders have a positive connotation in this person's mind, who is generally interested in appliances. Now, equate that person to a person who is generally interested in fitness, and to whom the word strength has positive connotations.

So, why does it make sense for this person to have a blender? Maybe, because with a blender they can make HEALTHY SMOOTHIES! So, you play up the smoothie angle in your blender copy. Now, you have a person who associates your blender with smoothies. And they think, "hey, maybe I should get this blender so that I can make smoothies and be more healthy."

Now we come to number three. Nobody walks around thinking they want to be unhealthy, and be thought of as an unhealthy person, do they? We want to be "smart" about our health. So, perhaps your customer will think, if you play your cards right, that owning a blender will mean that they are health savvy. Being health savvy reflects well on them, as an individual. This brings us to number two.

You know that your customer really isn't that into making smoothies, yet. Indeed, you know that they will probably get on a smoothie kick for a couple of weeks and then forget about it. You don't need them to be a smoothie king, you just need them to be a blender purchaser. Well, what if they have access to information that tells them that they can make great smoothies with any number of blenders?

They do have access to such information. Perhaps, then, you will want to implant certain suggestions in their mind. You may want to imply that your blender is more convenient than other blenders. It, for instance, has a "smoothie" setting so you do not have to guess. You push the smoothie button and you get a perfect smoothie, every time! You could imply that other blenders are a pain in the ass to clean but tell them that your blender jar, blade, and lid are all dishwasher safe. You could even suggest they are likely to cut their finger when trying to clean the blade of other blenders, but with yours, they can safely clean it without ever touching the blade.

Now, you've got them interested because you've associated your blender with good health, and you've led them to believe (however vaguely) that other blenders are inconvenient, and perhaps not all that easy to use. What's more, other blenders may be a bit dangerous. This bridges nicely with number one.

It is pretty easy for anyone to figure out that most all blenders work by the same concept. A set of whirring blades sits at the bottom of a glass or plastic jar that tapers towards the bottom. The blades spin around very quickly and chop up all the stuff in the jar. If that is, there is enough liquid along with the solid ingredients (experienced blender owners know this!) You could mess around with the design of the blade, and the shape of the jar, etc. but at the end of the day, most blenders work exactly the same. So, how do you convince them your blender is better?

You could play up your one thousand watt motor. An experienced blender owner might know that the strongest motor may not matter if the power is not efficiently transferred to the blades. For instance, they might know that some blenders use a soft plastic gear to run the blades and that this gear does not engage well, and wears out over time. But your customer doesn't know that. They also don't know that blenders with thousand watt motors are common.

You certainly would not try to convince your potential buyer with words like torque, or efficient power transfer, when you could call on much nicer sounding words. Instead of telling them that your blades chop up all the stuff better, why not tell them that it CREATES A VORTEX and that this vortex ensures the finest most perfectly pureed smoothies in the world. Who wouldn't want a Vortex Blender?

What you have begun to do is create a demand for your blender in this person's mind. You could further refine your points on all levels, and of course, real marketers would have refined their marketing messages to a much finer degree than what I've tried to do here.

What do you end up with if you do it right? You have taken a person who barely had blenders on their radar and have ended up with a person who thinks that "this is exactly what I wanted!"

How do we relate this to strength training? Easy! Every day, this exact thing happens, and people who barely had strength on their radar read articles and end up saying "You've said exactly what I needed to hear. This is just what I've been looking for."

Notice that a large part of the effort was to convince them of what they don't want. They don't want inconvenience. They don't want it to be too hard. They don't want it to be dirty! They want it to be healthy and not "unhealthy." They don't want to get hurt! And since the psychology behind fitness pursuits is ever so much more complex than blenders, you have a wealth of potential buttons to push.

The Key Message

But what is the key? The key comes back to smoothies. Remember, I said that it doesn't matter if your customer loses interest in smoothies a couple of weeks later? They've already bought the blender. It's sitting on their counter. They will use it now and again when they need a blender, even if they don't often make smoothies (because they got tired of smoothies). But, you see, they are still a loyal customer. They STILL think that your blender is the best blender. If anyone asks, they will tell them as much! Even though they don't even make smoothies anymore! Even though it sits on a counter ignored for months on end!

Are you seeing the difference, here? Some people writing about strength training are writing to help you achieve a very specific goal, with the assumption that you are quite sure about that goal, and will be engaged in pursuing that goal for a long time to come. But the majority of people writing about strength training on the web are not really concerned with helping you achieve a specific goal. In fact, they will not often mention a specific strength oriented goal. They will equate strength with the general "goodness" of a smoothie. They will tell you that their way is cooler because it is not as dirty and low-down as those other ways. They will give you the vortex.

The same thing goes even for fitness oriented goals. You see, people's actual behavior do not always reflect their attitudes. In order to build a huge audience, you do not actually have to get that audience to engage in a particular behavior! You only need to get that audience to put your blender on their counter. For every person who is obsessed with smoothies and lives a smoothie lifestyle (yep, I'm pretty sure that's a thing), there are thousands of others who simply like the idea of being a part of a group of people who thinks the Vortex Blender is the best blender out there!

The people with the vortex blender in their kitchen may not ever even realize that pretty much any decent blender would have made a good smoothie. They might also not realize that a blender cannot replace a food processor or even a knife. These are the people who will say, "this blender is great, you can do anything with it." They don't know what "anything" might entail. They don't know that, of course, you cannot do 'anything' with a blender. A blender generally does the same damned thing to anything you put in it. It is not specific. You whirl around the stuff for a few seconds, it creates a chunky smoothie. You whir it around longer, it creates a smooth smoothie. You whir your salsa on too high a speed, you end up with a smooth salsa when you wanted a chunky one. Regardless of what you call it though, it all still generally falls into the class of smoothie. Even if you call it a sauce! You stop whirring when you've reached the smoothness you want. So, how smooth do you want your fitness smoothie?

A real cook doesn't reach for a blender when he needs a knife. He doesn't reach for a knife when a food processor will do better. As well, he doesn't try to mix a cake in a processor. A mixer is the thing for that, and even a spoon would be better than a food processor.

I could go on and on with this analogy! How about I don't, though. How about we sum it up by saying that the guy trying to sell you the vortex blender is trying to turn you into a believer, not a cook! It takes a lot more dedication and practice to become a great cook. Anybody can become a great smoothie maker. In order to achieve your greatest potential at any goal, you must continually push the limits of what is possible.

This page created 03 Nov 2014 20:55
Last updated 29 Jan 2018 21:50

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