It’s okay to suck

My first time in the weight room was an ugly experience. If anyone had told me then that I’d “grow up” to be a personal trainer, teaching others to pick up weights and put them down, I would’ve laughed directly in their face.

ha ha

Isn’t it funny how things work out? Here I am 26 years later, coaching people to be awesome in the weight room. Teaching them to be great means telling them to suck, however. Let me explain.

No gym newbie enters a gym knowing how to squat, push, pull and deadlift with good technique right away. These are difficult moves that work multiple muscle groups and require a certain amount of muscular co-ordination.

Complicating matters further, we come in different shapes and sizes and with slight differences in our anatomy. This allows you to do some exercises pain free while not being able to perform others.

Your push up might look different than my push up. This is one reason why “perfect” form doesn’t exist and comparing yourself to the person next to you in the gym is an exercise in futility.

Once you’ve gotten a grasp on how to squat, push, pull and hinge and you no longer ‘suck’ at doing these, you may hit a plateau. Results that came easier at the beginning have all but shriveled up. You look longingly at the scale hoping the needle goes up or down. But it doesn’t.


This is when you need to start sucking again.

Your body is an efficient machine which will adapt quickly to whatever you throw at it. This process is known as homeostasis. So the next time you’re crushing your 5 sets of 5 reps on the bench press with a weight you’ve been using for a while, the body says

“Baa humbug. This is easy. I’ve seen this before. I don’t have to adapt to this. No new muscle for you.”

no soup for you

You could put more weight on the bar (which is always good) but if you’re stuck in a rut and unable to lift any more weight than you currently are lifting, there is another way. Let me introduce you to inefficient/self-limiting exercises.

These are exercises that provide an automatic yet natural obstacle (grip strength/core strength for example) that prevents you from doing it wrong, or performing excessive volume. (1)  Examples of inefficient/self-limiting exercises are barefoot running, weighted carries and push-ups.

Notice that I didn’t say biceps curls.

Biceps Chuck

If you’re stuck rut and want to take your overall conditioning to the next level, take these exercises out for spin. You may suck but that’s okay. They will make you a stronger, more resilient human being.

1. Weighted carries

 This is the biggest bang for your buck exercise that you’re probably not doing.  Why aren’t you doing them? Because they’re hard, that’s why. Your shoulders will ache, your grip will fail and it becomes a mental battle between you and the weight.

They seem simple. You pick up a weight and walk. However, they are not easy. Try some of the weighted carry variations below to become stronger because stronger is always better.

Dumbbell farmers carry

Overhead barbell carry

Suitcase carry

I like to combine carries with other exercises and put them in a circuit to train my weakness, like my upper body, because summer is just around the corner. For example

1A. Bent over barbell row, chin up or bench press variations. 6-12 reps

1B. Overhead barbell carry- 20 steps forward, then 20 steps back.


1AZottman curl 12-15 reps

1BBarbell wrist curls 15 reps

1C. Any of the carries above 40 yards

 2.. Get back up…..and down again.

 Getting up and down from the ground is one of the hardest things we do (this is why burpees suck) but we barely practice it. Which is a shame because getting up from a fall can be difficult, even life threatening as we get older. (2)

The simple act of getting up and down from the ground will improve your strength, mobility and conditioning. And when you combine this with another exercise you have no choice but to get better.

Naked Turkish Get up

Try these out for a couple of minutes. Did you feel out of breath and sweaty?  Now try combining these with a strength exercise and feel your body getting stronger. For example

1A. Goblet squats or Kettlebell swings 20 seconds

1B. Get down and get up 2 reps or Naked Turkish get ups- 1 rep on each side

Repeat for as many rounds as possible for 10 -15 minutes. Rest when needed.

1A. Push-ups or Incline push-ups 6 reps

1B. Get down and get up 2 reps or Naked Turkish get ups- 1 rep on each side

Repeat for as many rounds as possible for 10 -15 minutes. Rest when needed.

Wrapping up

Sucking is something we avoid at all costs. However, if you put your ego aside and embrace the suck, you will be a stronger, tougher and better human being.

If you need any help with your training, please contact me here.



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