When I originally started learning about habit change, it was from the perspective of it being less threatening.
And all of the metaphors were strength training related: Practicing strength often while fresh (aka Easy Strength or Greasing the Groove) could totally be looked at like it’s “making heavier weights less threatening”
And that any nutrition habit is exactly the same: Get in lots of reps, without going to failure.
Practicing Strength Often, While Fresh
The book, Easy Strength, by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline, is sort of “the” book on getting stronger with frequent practice and not going to failure.
I assume if you’ve been around this blog a while, you’ve bounced off kettlebell-world strength stuff. But for those who are new, here’s the short version.
To get the strongest, the fastest:
- Lift frequently
- *Practice* better lifting technique
- Never go to failure
- Do less movements, but do them better
Essentially, people get wicked strong, wicked fast, by doing easy workouts five days per week. Usually, it’s the same lifts, every day.
You’re practicing strength.
It doesn’t work if you do hard workouts. You’re literally teaching your body that a heavy weight is safe and non-threatening.
In fact, here’s the famous quote Pavel told Dan:
For the next 40 workouts, pick five lifts. Do them every workout. Never miss a rep, in fact, never even get close to struggling. Go as light as you need to go and don’t go over 10 reps in a workout for any of the movements. It’s going to seem easy. When the weights feel light, add more weight.
It’s exactly that simple.
Habits Are The Same
It’s funny, but people really just need to get a lot of reps in. It’s actually the same three rules:
People get the best at food habits, the fastest, when:
- Do the habit frequently
- *Practice* better habit technique
- Never go to habit-failure
- Do less habits, but do them better
The biggest mistakes people make with habits are usually related to going to habit failure: Too much, too fast. Trying to change everything.
Consistency beats intensity, all of the time.
As far as “do less things, but do them better”, we know that your chances of success working on one habit at a time are around 80%, two habits at a time your chances of success are around 30%, and three or more habits, your chances of success are around 0%.
Bonus: People Get Stronger Faster In Groups
If I train a one-on-one client and we’re deadlifting, they get stronger over time.
What’s amazing is if I take that same person, and put them in a group of four, everyone gets stronger at deadlifting faster.
People learn the techniques faster, by watching other people. I do less coaching, and people actually learn better technique as a group.
At the same time, the group version of what’s possible deadlifting will increase together. Every time someone has a personal record, everyone gets more confident in how strong they can get. There’s an amazing multiplier effect.
Consistency becomes easier: Because you’re part of a group, you show up more often. Because you show up more often, you get stronger.
The impossible becomes possible: While deadlifting 1x your bodyweight or 2x your bodyweight may seem crazy all by yourself… it starts to seem really normal when everyone in the group just gets a rep or two stronger every week. And then after a couple weeks they max out the reps and up the weight. It just becomes the new normal.
Strength Training + Food Habits
They’re both the same:
Consistency beats intensity
Doing frequent practice and never going to failure is what makes for amazing, even unbelievable long term success.
People totally overestimate what they can do in a month or three months…
…but they totally underestimate what they could do in a year.
*Note: Above is my interpretation of a quote from Bill Gates about the difference in technology in two years vs. ten years, that was later reinterpreted by Tony Robbins about how people overestimate how much they can change their lives in one year, and underestimate how much they can change their lives in ten years. I think that, for weight loss, it’s even more compressed, to the one month/one year version ahead.
You can get really lean, and really strong. You can be unrecognizably lean and athletic looking in a year. What’s even more amazing, is that the habits will be ingrained, and it will actually be even easier to stay lean and athletic looking, a year from now.
by Josh Hillis