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Your ‘strengths’ can only take you so far

Have you ever done something for the first time and been told you’re good? Oh doesn’t the ego love it? To the extent depends on the scale of ego to begin with. If compliments don’t inflate an ego, then at least they offer the glorious ‘confidence boost’.

Let’s clarify that compliments are one of life’s hidden beauties. In actual fact, try complimenting someone (genuinely) at least once everyday. See how it makes you feel. There’s just something good about spreading positivity – a diminishing presence in today’s world.

“Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

Some people have had enough compliments that if they spent the remainder of their lives encountering insults alone, their ego would still remain immortal. Some say these are the “lucky folk”, the ones who’ve gravitated towards their genetic strength(s) – often by luck. And many times these egos aren’t even all that justified! It’s a case of the said person being king of their castle. They’re the best of the people they’re surrounded with, but when they take a dive into the ocean, they sink and go unnoticed.

Story time…….

A few years back, maybe more, I was really into the game ‘Snooker’. For those that don’t know, it’s a cue sport game. Think 8 ball/9 ball and Pool. Only Snooker is played on a much bigger surface area (12 feet x 6 feet) and with a more complex set of rules. Anyway, I got quite into the game and beating friends wasn’t fun anymore. Naturally, talk of competition arose.

Compete I did and lose I did. The disappointment was incredible. I felt I did myself a complete injustice, I hadn’t played a tenth of my capacity. Looking back I realize how over-inflated my perceptions of my actual level were. I was never naturally good at the game. The game is highly technical and my natural technique was completely inadequate. I had to pull my hair out trying all variations and strategies. I honestly believe this made me a far better player when I eventually found my groove and got in the heat of battle, I was a natural problem solver.

My apparent lack of talent wasn’t a curse, it was a blessing. That’s the power of perspective.

I came by players far better naturally than me with half my acquired knowledge. How do we best learn? Often through obstacles and failures. It’s an old cliche but it’s true. You can read all the textbooks in the world, but are you really consuming it? Like really? 

When the agony of being second best, tasting defeat and longing for recognition leave a bitter aftertaste, learning is a much faster process. In short, being an “unnatural” is never as bad as it seems initially.


Back to what we all love: Fitness! How does this all tie in you ask? Think about your routine, think about your ‘best bodyparts’, think about your best athletic achievements. How good are they? How much time have you dedicated to your strengths? You fellas who train chest every session, you chicks who train glutes every day. I’m not hating, but you need a wake-up call; there’s only so much development you can attain naturally. Hold on, I guess it needs clarification….I’m not talking about the guys with the solid chests and the girls with the nice booty’s. No. I’m pointing at the guys who have constantly pronated hands, internally rotated humerus’ and look like they’re constantly in a ‘lat spread’.

And the girls whose butt sticks out so much it creates lumbar hyper-extension and unsightly lordosis, whilst everyone just gazes at you in confusion, not admiration when they see your ‘assets’.

This is where a ‘strength’ becomes an obsession. 

What was once your ‘best bodypart’ or favorite muscle to train, is now your identity. Much like some people attach so aggressively to diet cults. They’re no longer ‘John who happens to be vegan’, they’re now….’A vegan who happens to be John’. Jade is no longer known as ‘Jade with the nice ass’, she’s now seen as ‘Jade with the ugly implants’. This happens completely unbeknownst to these souls. They think wherever they go they’re being seen in awe. They think the world has just as great an obsession with pecs, butts, biceps….whatever as they do.

This isn’t the case. If anything, having grossly overtrained/developed muscles in isolation only draws attention to what’s lacking, especially when taken to the extremes. You become known as the guy who’s ‘all chest, no legs’. Or the girl who’s ‘all butt, no boobs’.

Pure aesthetic training (bodybuilding) can cause unhealthy body image disorders. 

May I gently remind you that there has never been, and never will be, MR Olympia: The chest ONLY edition! If you’re serious about bodybuilding, then you know the following: Bodybuilding is based on symmetry, balance and overall development. 

No judge has ever said “He had no calves, poor hamstrings, lagging rear delts…..but man, his chest was SO good, we’ll give it to him!” That only happens in Mr. Big pecs’ dreams.

Sports and athletics are a little different

Sports entail a huge amount of pattern overload which can lead to muscular imbalances and over-development. But these aren’t nearly as extreme or mentally unhealthy as body image obsessions. Simply because the over-development of certain muscles is a result of sporting practice/participation. It’s a by-product of their sport, which is the bigger obsession to them – or damn well should be!

Gymnasts don’t meet with their strength coaches and demand their program be based on getting horseshoe triceps. Cyclists and skaters don’t ask whether their training will definitely give them teardrop quads. They’ve no interest. That stuff happens anyway.

How about training something you’re not known for or you don’t even like training? 

Echoing my tales of Snooker earlier, it’s nice when people assume you’re naturally good at something. Yet only you know just how hard you had to grind to create such an illusion. Athletic and physical goals share the same principles. What’s more impressive, a 210 cm guy dunking a basketball or a 175 cm guy?

This is where stories are made. This is where you become of value. This is where your trials and tribulations allow you to share your wisdom and inspire others. I have good chest development relative to the remainder of my body, hence why I won’t be penning the ultimate guide to chest growth anytime soon. Because I didn’t really do anything special to build my pecs, they just grew from the basics. Now if I ever get a respectable amount of overhead press strength, you better bet your backside I’ll write all about the ‘secrets’, as this movement has always been a natural weakness of mine.

Don’t be obsessed with a bodypart or movement. Do you really want ‘Here lies David Chatham, the biggest pecs in the cemetery. Pity you can’t see them.’ on your headstone?

Train to be well rounded. Accept challenges. Do stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable. Master that which doesn’t come easy. You’ll be an asset to all you meet. Forget body image obsession. Make people admire your against-the-odds accomplishments. Be someones inspiration.

Have all that on your headstone. It’s got to be worth more than big upper pecs, synthol ridden biceps and swollen glutes. 

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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