There is a nice little disconnect between the performance world and the world of vanity.
I use vanity because bodybuilding implies competing, fitness implies performance, and gym rat sounds like you are a meathead sweating profusely in a grey sweatshirt smelling like an Italian Hoagie left over from 2 days ago.
You need to embrace that word, vanity, because that is the reason most of us initially step foot into a gym. You don’t hear someone say, “I want to be clinically obese and feel like shit”, when they join Gold’s. No. They say, “I want to look better and be stronger”.
The performance world isn’t concerned about vanity as a direct result of their training, they are concerned with how fast you are, how well you move, how much power you generate, and how you perform on your field of play.
Vanity is concerned with looking good, feeling good, and embracing the process.
You go to a Strength and Conditioning conference and you will hear program design, mobility methods, and more. You will hear coaches describe how they structure a program for their athletes, how they manage 20+ athletes at a time, and how they work with interns.
I know because I spoke at the Denison U S&C conference in 2011.
If you attend a “fitness” conference you get topics like, mindset, nutritional strategies, culture, and little on program design.
The two worlds parallel each other, and intersect in some other ways.
Let’s face it, the two worlds can play off of each other beautifully and should indeed do just that.
I coined a term for it as an inside joke with a couple friends of mine when they asked me how I trained:
Athletic Hypertrophy ™
Not quite performance based, not quite bodybuilding.
Kind of a sweet synergy between the two worlds.
When you think about it, it is how a lot of people train without realizing it.
I just wanted to put a tongue-in-cheek name to it and run with it.
The idea behind optimal training is three things:
The 3 P’s.
Train the first two lifts of the day for performance – that is after your warmup.
Strength? Yep. Movement quality? Yep. Speed and power? Yep. Sagittal plane work? Yep because that is shit people neglect for quality movement… ALL… THE… TIME…
Now that you got some performance work finished, you can move on to other vanity exercises to build a muscular back, shape those delts, build your arms because, “Bitches love Biceps”: <— another quality Ashmanism.
We can superset, triset, do single exercises, or bodyweight work.
The idea behind this is to marry two worlds in your body both physically, mentally, and spiritually.
You will embrace how well you move, how strong you are becoming, how good it feels to see and feel muscles you didn’t know existed on your body. You’ll eat like you want to be a savage in the gym and look the part of a finely tuned machine.
We don’t need to be chiseled from stone because being that lean is counterproductive to performing well.
Sure, 6 pack abs look awesome and are quite the ego boost, but you are sacrificing how you feel just so you can take your shirt off and show everyone how good they look… maybe the trade-off isn’t worth it for that fleeting feeling of fineness.
Throw in some cardio, a little HIIT work, and you have the makings of a package that is going to stand the tests of time, test you physically, feed your vain soul (like I said, embrace vanity, there is nothing wrong with loving how you look), and you will feel pretty damn good.
This is how we marry the two worlds of performance and vanity.
Each of us has that capability of it, the only differences between you and I is what we use to improve your performance.
I never will understand why more fitness-y people aren’t going to Strength and Conditioning Conferences and why Strength Coaches aren’t, en masse, going to Fitness conventions… the two worlds can learn a hell of a lot from each other, and if you take them on a date, allow that courtship to grow, what comes out of those worlds is one hell of a fucking package.
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