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I have used visualization in my training for many years. Skeptical at first, but the results of it have been great for training progress.

I first started using it during the 1980s when I was learning to trade sleep for study time at the University of Pittsburgh. I would take a study break and find a quiet spot and visualize where I was going to lift that day including the sounds, smells and feelings.

I would close my eyes and feel what the weight would be like on the first rep including the lift off. I would feel each successive rep getting heavier and more difficult to accomplish. Most importantly what the last rep which was my extra rep or increased weight from the last workout would feel like. I would always visualize the succesful completion of the rep. You really have to get your confidence up and “buy in” for the completion of the final rep.

My workouts became more businesslike and matter of fact. I went on some great training runs with this technique and I believe it to be well worth a try. Think of it as a very effective free training supplement.

You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small — I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us.…..

When you transition and open your hips what part of your foot hits the ground first? (Should be ball)What does your shin angle look like?(should be positive) If not, why not? Is it a habit? Are your hips tight? Are you weak?

They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second…….

Are you addressing your weaknesses or are you hopping through hoops and ladders without correcting your flaws?

On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing! Between livin’ and dyin’!…….

Are you willing to put your brain to work and get into the science of training? If you are already athletic will you hide behind that or do you want to get even better?

I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willin’ to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what livin’ is! The six inches in front of your face!!

Will you work smartly and effectively as if your life depends on it or are you going to muddle through? It’s all about you vs. you and becoming the best you can be. No matter what you are striving to accomplish.

**Italics quotes courtesy of the movie Any Given Sunday(The inches speech as delivered by Al Pacino)

I felt awful this morning as I did my warm up for a running day. Joints hurt, low back hurt, no pop in the step. A funny thing happened though as I got 5 minutes into the run. My thoughts settled into a rhythm with the crunch of leaves under my feet. My breathing got into a steady rhythm and the aches and pains drained away. Any journey as they say starts with the first step. If I put that run off this morning I never would have gotten it in or found out. Get your mind right first to give your physical self a shot.

The weights never lie and the steepness of the hill remains unchanged. They will be constant and you can count on them to stay true. The hill isn’t steeper and weights are not heavier on a given day. Your mind and neural drive control these things. Be true to yourself and allow your body to be at it’s best by staying positive and believing. This cannot be faked. The least stressed aspect in training is the mind and it is exponentially more important than diet, rep scheme and loading protocols, and the latest training craze. Fitness crazes and training methodologies are transient and temporary, but the power of the mind is timeless.

This is an excerpt from an article that I had published 20 years ago in MuscleMag International and am posting because of requests that I have had. It is heavy in spots. Good Summary at the end.

Consider the relationship of testosterone and cortisol to diet and exercise. (1) The material contained in the study caused me to reflect on big gain periods in my life. Many calories that I consumed contained fat. About 30%-40% or so. I contrasted this period with other periods during which I consumed a low fat diet. Granted there are many other variables, but higher fat consumption almost always led to bigger gains and enhanced recuperation even at the same caloric intake.

This leads to the discussion of some of the body’s primary anabolic hormones and an examination of how these compounds can be manipulated by diet and exercise.  

                                                          GROWTH HORMONE

 Growth hormone(GH) is a peptide hormone that is produced in the anterior segment of the pituitary gland. GH has a role in the growth and development of bone, connective, visceral, adipose, and muscle tissue. GH may act either indirectly or directly. Directly speaking, GH may bind directly to a GH receptor on a muscle cell where it then exerts its anabolic effect. On the other hand, some studies show that GH exerts its effects indirectly by stimulating the release of somatomedins from the liver. Somatomedins bind to the plasma membrane of the muscle cell, where it carries out growth promoting effects. Regardless of how GH works its magic, it promotes the hypertrophic response by stimulating amino acid transport into the muscle cell and translating these amino acids into protein. GH output is obviously something we want to maximize, so what is the best way to do it?

In most studies it appears that GH release is related to intensity of exercise, volume of work performed, and shorter rest periods. In one particular study, a comparison between 2 different exercise protocols on evoked GH responses during and after weight training exercise was carefully observed.(10) One protocol consisted of 5 sets of 5 repetitions with a variety of basic exercises using a weight that was 80-95% of each movement’s 1 repetition maximum. A second protocol consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions with the same exercises using a weight that was 70-85% of each movement’s 1 repetition maximum. Rest periods for the first protocol were 3 minutes. Rest periods for the second protocol were 1 minute. Growth hormone levels during and after exercise were significantly higher using the second exercise protocol. Lactate levels increased during the second exercise protocol and not in the first, leading the researchers to believe that lactate may be the stimulus for GH increases. Other studies bear out the same contention.(11)

Diet also has important ramifications concerning GH release. During the first 1-2 hours of sleep, a significant pulse of GH is released into the bloodstream. The presence of glucose in the bloodstream, and therefore usually insulin,  has been shown to inhibit GH secretion. Therefore, theoretically it seems to make sense to avoid a high carbohydrate meal close to bedtime. A better option would be a high protein shake or snack coupled with some low glycemic index carbohydrates so as to minimize a large increase in insulin.

                                                              TESTOSTERONE

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle tissue. Anyone who has seen an athlete that supplements with anabolic steroids can see what modified testosterone can do.

Anyhow, under normal physiologic conditions a region of the brain called the hypothalamus secretes GnRH which stimulates the anterior segment of the pituitary gland to release LH(luteinizing hormone) into the bloodstream. LH then stimulates the Leydig cells of the testes to create and release testosterone into the circulation. At rest, 97% to 99% of this hormone is bound to SHBG(sex hormone binding globulin) or albumin. The rest is active and free to exert its effects.(2) Anabolic effects are due to the fact that testosterone increases protein synthesis and decreases protein catabolism within the muscle fiber. To delve a little further yet, testosterone binds with receptors in the cytosol of the cell which causes an increase in the transcription of the genes located on nuclear DNA that code for the synthesis of muscle proteins. The messenger RNA that results from this returns to the cell cytosol where actual protein synthesis occurs.(3) This is great but how do you get your testes to make more of this stuff? Several studies demonstrate that weight training induces elevated testosterone levels during and after exercise. It seems as if the most important factors in eliciting an elevated testosterone response are the amount of muscle mass used in a movement as well as the total work performed.(4,5) This tells us that for the most efficient testosterone release we want to be sure to include the squat, deadlift, and bench press in our routines. Doing higher rep sets of 10 and even 12 so as to increase total work performed may be advantageous in maximizing testosterone output. Sets of 5 repetitions still have their place in any routine, but they are not as efficient in eliciting testosterone secretion.

How about those old time 20 rep squat routines that were touted as being able to pack on lots of muscle mass and add to your vitality.. Both criteria for maximizing testosterone secretion are overwhelmingly met. Maybe those old timers were onto something. Myself and many of my clients achieved personal best lifts while on a 20 rep squat cycle. This implies that one must look not just at the effects of a specific exercise on a target movement or bodypart, but systemic effects of various schemes as well.

Diet can also have profound implications in determining an athlete’s testosterone level, particularly the resting level of testosterone.  Dietary fat has been shown to have a significant effect upon testosterone.(7,8) As a matter of fact, studies show that going from a diet that contains 10% of its calories from fat to a diet that contains 30% of its calories from fat increases testosterone by a statistically significant amount. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats seem to accomplish this increase better than polyunsaturated fats.(9) Getting back to my statement earlier in the article about the high fat diet and increased results from training, I suppose there is a chance that my increased fat intake may have had something to do with this. I also recall a period when I was consuming a low fat(10-15%) diet and ended up looking and feeling like crap despite an adequate overall caloric intake. Coincidence? Possibly, but I think not. Obviously raising testosterone levels is not the sole factor responsible for creating hypertrophy, but it sure can’t hurt. Be sure to use caution if you decide to increase fats in your diet. Increasing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is a safer way to go, rather than increasing saturated fats. Saturated fats are used to synthesize cholesterol, which is great since it is a precursor for testosterone, but bad in the long term for the coronaries. Olive and flaxseed oils are a good means to obtain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, respectively. I achieve good results by keeping fats at about 25%-30% of my total caloric intake, with saturated fat comprising about 10% of this amount.

                                                             SOMATOMEDINS

            Somatomedins are polypeptides that are synthesized in the liver and released when stimulated by GH. They are also released by skeletal muscle fibers. Included in this family of polypeptides are IGF-1 and IGF-2. These two polypeptides are not identical, but very similar.

IGF-1 bears a strong similarity in function as well as structure to the body’s primary anabolic hormone, insulin. As a matter of fact, insulin can also bind to IGF-1 receptors on the muscle cell plasma membrane.(12) In addition, IGF-1 has been shown to stimulate satellite cells. Stimulated satellite cells proliferate and give rise to immature muscle cells called myoblasts. These myoblasts can either fuse with an existing muscle fiber(hypertrophy) or fuse with each other(hyperplasia). This sounds pretty good, so how do we get our bodies to make more of this compound?

As mentioned earlier, GH release stimulates the release of somatomedins, including IGF-1, from the liver. This is not an instantaneous response as it takes anywhere from 3 to 15 hours for this to occur. In addition to the weight training method of stimulating GH release and therefore IGF-1, an alternative method of obtaining a release of IGF-1 instantaneously is through stretching.(13) A good time to do this is in between sets since you are already warmed up. Target the bodypart that you are currently training and be sure to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. For a good explanation and description of various stretches for specific bodyparts, I recommend the book Stretching by Bob Anderson.

In addition to eating for optimum GH release and therefore IGF-1 release, there is an additional supplement that is reported to stimulate IGF-1 production. In one study, whey protein was shown to stimulate the release of IGF-1.(14) A good time to consume whey protein would be right after a workout. Since IGF-1 release is typically delayed after a workout as mentioned previously, this may help to augment the small local release that may be brought about by stretching. Ion exchange whey protein is the most effective type of whey protein available. 

                                                                      INSULIN

Insulin is the primary anabolic hormone in the human body. It is secreted by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas. Its release is brought on by a number of factors including elevated plasma glucose and amino acids, decreased sympathetic input from the nervous system, and a variety of other hormones. Insulin serves to increase the rate of amino acid uptake into muscle tissue and slows the rate of protein catabolism. In addition, glycogen and fat storage are facilitated.

 Generally, plasma levels of insulin are decreased during exercise. It has been found that working out increases the sensitivity and responsiveness of skeletal muscle tissue to insulin. These effects seem to be limited to the specific muscles that have been exercised.

It is logical to consume a high protein, high carbohydrate, moderate fat meal after a workout to take advantage of the aforementioned increase in insulin efficacy. One study shows that when proteins are added to a carbohydrate meal, a greater insulin response occurs compared to when carbohydrates are eaten alone.(15) If one consumes this meal within an hour after working out, the rate of glycogen synthesis and replacement is increased.(16) The best way to get macronutrients into the circulation quickly is to use a shake after working out. Try taking 16 oz. of skim milk and adding a scoop of whey protein, a meal replacement powder, and a tablespoon of Flaxseed oil to it. Eat a few pieces of a high glycemic index fruit like oranges with this shake. This is an excellent, quick way to recharge after a workout.

Editors note(The following regimen is best used very off season. It is non specific and very body building in nature. Good for a change of pace and weight gain.)

In summing, an effective workout plan to maximize your anabolic hormones might go as follows. On Mondays begin your workout with squats. After warming up, do 1 set of 20 repetitions with the twentieth rep being very difficult to handle. Take multiple breaths between reps 10 through 20 if need be.  Follow this up with 3 sest of 8 in the leg curl. 3 sets of 12 reps in the heel raise could come next for the calves. For the back, do 3 sets of 10 in the bent row. Follow this with 3 sets of 8 in the chin with palms facing you. Rest about 90 seconds between sets to further stimulate lactate production2

Monday’s routine fulfills most of the suspected requirements of stimulating anabolic hormone release. Repetition tempo should be slow and deliberate, taking 3 to 4 seconds to perform the negative portion of the repetition and 2 seconds for the positive portion. This tempo will help maximize waste product output, including lactate, which is implicated in stimulating GH release as well as possibly other anabolic hormones. When the last rep of the last set of a given exercise can be performed, add a small amount of resistance for the next workout.

On Wednesday, start out with the bench press and do 5 sets of 10 repetitions. Follow up with 2 sets of 10 in the dumbbell incline press. Standing military presses are next for 3 working sets of 10 repetitions. Finish with close grip benches for 3 sets of 10 reps. Alternate the sequence of close grip benches and overhead presses from week to week. Core can be done last using crunches for 3 sets of 15 reps. Use the same progression scheme as above.

On Fridays, start out with the deadlift for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Next up is the barbell curl for 3 sets of 8 repetitions. Side laterals can be done next for 2 sets of 8 repetitions. Move on to some grip work by pinching two 25 pound plates with smooth sides out for as long as you can. Use the same progression scheme as mentioned earlier.

If you feel as if the volume of these workouts is too low, feel free to add a few sets here and there but keep in mind that overtraining has been shown to decrease testosterone production. It is better to undertrain than it is to overtrain. Make sure you are putting out lots of effort on the listed sets before adding any volume. Effective cycling schemes can enhance and prolong the progression of the exercise cycle.

Obviously this workout cannot be used year round for best results. Best place for it is the first 4-8 weeks or so of a training regimen before changing protocols for specific gains. This type of workout should not be used without exception.. In addition, cycling techniques should be used to prolong the efficacy of the cycle.

In addition, cardiovascular work done 3 times per week fro 20-30 minutes in high intensity, sprint interval style rounds out the total program. To maximize the anabolic hormone profile, low intensity cardiovascular work should be kept to a minimum. Never jump in at high levels of cardiovascular intensity. Make gradual changes in intensity

                                                     REFERENCES    

W.J. Kraemer, et al., “Endogenous Anabolic Hormonal and Growth Factor Response to Heavy Resistance Exercise in Males and Females,” Int J Sports Med, Vol 12, No 2. pp228-235, 1991.(1),(5),(10)

K. Haakinen, et al., “Acute hormonal responses to two different fatiguing heavy resistance protocols in male athletes,” J. Appl. Physiol. 74(2):882-887, 1993.(11)

GA Hedge, Clinical endocrine physiology, W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1987.(2),(3)

J. Volek, et. al., “Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise,” J. Appl. Physiol. 82(1):49-54, 1997.(4),(8),(9)

E. Hamalainen, “Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men,” J. Steroid Biochem. 20: 459-464, 1984.(7)

F. Beguinot et. al., “Distinct biologically active receptors for insulin, etc.,” Journal of Biological Chemistry 260: 15892-15898, 1985.(12)

C.E. Perrone, et al., “Collagen and Stretch Modulate Autocrine Secretion of IGF-1 and Insulin-Like etc.,” J. Biol. Chem. 270.5(1995): 2099-2106.(13)

What we need is emotional content! -Bruce Lee

I can’t stress enough how little the process of going through the motions helps. This is useless for athletes or trainees beyond the beginner phase.

If you get yourself worked up to the point of almost tears before you do a lift then you are getting warm.

If you read your phone or let your mind wander or bullshit then your set will be sub par.

Your heart and soul must be involved in training to get the most out of what your physical self can be.

100% neural drive required!

A Junior High School Basketball player name Gavin approached us to ask me to help him develop his game to be able to play at a higher level.

After a functional assessment revealed some classic basketball imbalances we embarked on an interesting and what turned out to be record setting quest.

Over the next 12 weeks we addressed inadequate knee punching, overstriding and inefficient shin angles and a lack of drive at the shoulders which can contribute up to 10% of an athletes “oomph” when they accelerate. We also woke up his hamstrings since we explained his brakes would be key as much as his engine. We also addressed back jumping where athletes try to recruit slow twitch fibers in the back mistakenly rather than the power legs and glutes. We also provided some suggestions for alterations to his strength program getting into rep ranges designed to encourage fast twitch and enhance intermediate twitch conversion.

We introduced some work on eliminating false step and reaction work to movement, sound and color. Acceleration and Lateral movement continued to be overloaded.

We covered transition steps that occur when you have to stop start, turn and lateral transition, etc.

It should be noted that this young man never missed a training session and always took care of strength training sometimes at the facility and sometimes on his own.

Excellent outcome.

12 weeks later…Vertical Leap +10inches………..10 yard dash……. .45 improvement……. .6 improvement

Your ability to stop and start unpredictably is at the root of agility.

If you do not add the element of surprise(open drills) to your agility training repertoire, you become good at a skill like you get good at a golf swing or dancing or a ladder or cone drill.

Once the foundation of good mechanics is laid, unpredictability must follow unless you just want to be an instagram or combine or showcase star only.

Don’t play like a robot. Become an athlete.

I was on a trip to Disney in 2003 and we stopped in at the Hall of Presidents. There was a great scene there that stuck with me and it was a conversation between Mark Twain and Ben Franklin I believe. Twain said, “The greatest enemy to progress is success.”

After thinking about this off and on through the years there are several reasons why this is true. One would be the obvious which means you get complacent and let yourself get comfortable with the status quo. Problem is things around you are always changing and you must be aware of this whether it is how you live your life, money decisions, business decisions, etc.

Another less obvious reason is that you are making progress and doing well and be wrong about the reasons why you are making progress. A training example would go as follows. Someone has been lifting for only a few years and decides that more will be better. They get locked into what they see on youtube or online magazines and figure that they can live in the gym and make better progress. I am here to tell you that this could not be further from the truth. You actually need MORE recovery time as you get better at generating training intensity. In the end your nervous system recovery will be the limiting factor. There is no natural drug free override of this mechanism. But I digress.

A simple business example would be thinking that running a certain ad online will lead to more business since the same ad led to big results in the past. You neglect to look further into who has seen this ad and realize that it fell into a region with high discretionary income. Wasn’t necessarily the ad but the market that it reached.

The devil is always in the details. I have made it part of my everyday learning to study mental models and ways of thinking outside of my own paradigms. Knowing the absolute causes of the effects you are experiencing will greatly enhance your own chances of “success”.

It also doesn’t hurt to take a pause when presented with a stimulus to prevent a knee-jerk reaction which you will regret later on. There is a time to think quick and a time to think slow. It’s in the way that you use it.

“Progress” is nothing more than an outcome of which you need to be really certain of the source.

If you are an advanced trainee how would you like to add 10-15 pounds to your bench as well as increase your pec and upper body mass in 12 weeks. If you are an intermediate, how does 15-20 pounds sound?
The so-called “secret” to these gains involves using the bench press in the power rack. The power rack is an advanced tool and is not for beginners or early intermediate trainees. It is a largely neglected method since it is not in style and is very difficult work. Many sources have espoused the use of the power rack including Bill Starr, Brooks Kubik, and Dr. Ken Leistner to name a few.
To further convince the reader of the power rack’s efficacy is not difficult. Consider the following scenario. A certain trainee had been stuck at 255 for 5 repetitions on his best set of bench presses. This stagnant period lasted for an incredible 2 years. This certain trainee gave the power rack a shot and lo and behold at the end of the 12-week routine he performed a 275 for 5-rep set.
The routine calls for the chest to be worked heavily once per week while cutting back on work for the shoulders and triceps. Say about 3 heavy sets for each of these groups no more than once per week. Don’t let this low volume of work scare you. You will not get weaker or smaller. Do not accept this mindset. Push hard on the sets that you have limited yourself to.
Before we get into how to use the rack, let’s discuss form. Most trainees (the author included) have learned to press the bar in a vertical line off the chest with the elbows flared out at 90 degrees from the sides. This is great in placing stress on the pectorals, but will inhibit your poundage potential and size and strength gains in the long run. Try this version instead. Lower the bar under control, not necessarily super slowly, to the nipple line while keeping the elbows in towards the lats. Shoot for 45 degrees or so between the upper arms and the ribcage. If you are a wide grip bench presser, this may necessitate moving the grip in several inches so that this can be accomplished. This increases the distance the bar must travel, but the payoff is that you are now coiled like a spring at the bottom portion of the movement. Drive the bar off the chest while simultaneously digging in with your feet and exploding with your chest as well as your latissimus. The first 2-3 inches can be a vertical drive off the chest. At this point allow the bar to drift back towards the clavicles while still driving upward. When it feels right, swing the elbows out to 90 degrees and drive the bar back towards the eyes to complete lockout. Be sure to have a spotter stand by, as this form feels very strange to “vertical” bench pressers. It just so happens that an easy place to learn how to do this is in the power rack. Warm up by doing two to three sets of benches with the form described earlier. If you are new to this, allow yourself a few weeks to learn the form before pushing hard on the rack program. Place the pins in the rack such that the bar is resting just above the chest. Prepare to do a few more warm up sets before reaching a weight that is about 40 pounds or so below your best set of 5 in the bench. The start position is with the bar resting on the pins. Explode the bar off the chest in the form described earlier in the article. Lower the bar back to the pins in the same arc that the bar followed on the way up. The bar should gently come to rest on the pins. Without bouncing, repeat for the required number of repetitions. Resist the temptation to bounce the bar off the pins. Do not relax in the bottom position. This would be defeating the purpose of the rack. Do another set at this height in the same good form. Next, raise the pins up to the next available hole. You may want to do a practice set at this height before moving to your heavy set. Generally, one can use about 25 more pounds at this height. After your heavy set at this hole, raise the pins up to the next hole. A whole lot of weight can be used at this height since it is generally past everyone’s sticking point. About 50-75 pounds more can be used here. After this set, you will perform a regular set of bench presses in good, strict form. On this set you will experience what I call the” medicine ball effect.” Did you ever pick up a medicine ball in gym class and pass it back and forth for a few minutes, followed by the same with a basketball? Remember how light it felt? The same rule applies to this last set of bench presses. Your nervous system has been primed to “over recruit” muscle fibers for the lighter task at hand. The weight will feel lighter than if you had worked up to it in the traditional fashion because you already have had a set where maximal recruitment is necessary. The critical first few reps will feel lighter which is good psychologically for a strong finish on the set.
All heavy sets in your routine should be cycled for maximum success in the long run. Start out at eighty percent of your previous best poundages for week number one. Work up to your previous records over 6 weeks. During the next 6 weeks add 1 to 2 pounds per week(no more even if you could) to your exercises. You may add slightly more per week on the bigger, basic moves like the squat and bench. Do not add so much that you fail to achieve the required number of reps. This will kill your momentum and shatter your confidence. Tease the mind and keep it hungry for more weight. Feel free to take a light week on weeks seven and eleven. You will be surprised at how strong you feel after you take a week in which you use about eighty-five percent of your scheduled poundage. Cycling is not new and has been around in some shape or form for many years.
In summary, although the program is brief and focused, it is a specialization program that has worked time and time again. Almost all of my trainees have had great success with it as I alluded to earlier. Rid yourself of the mindset that your muscles must be annihilated with multiple sets in order to grow. This is simply untrue and leads to overtraining for most trainees. The intensity that one puts out during the set as well as poundage progression provides the stimulus for muscle growth. In order for the body to elicit the response, however, adequate rest and nutrition must be a given. A solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep and maintaining as tranquil a mind as possible should cover rest. A multivitamin supplement and a moderate protein, high carbohydrate, low fat diet with enough calories to at least maintain bodyweight should cover nutrition. Focus on the above routine, believe in it, and grow in size as well as strength.

THIS IS NOT MY POST. IT WAS WRITTEN BY BROOKS KUBIK. WANTED TO SHARE THIS. BROOKS HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON HELPING SHAPE MY TRAINING PHILOSOPHY.

IT DWELLS ON THE OLD ADAGE “PRIDE IS TRAINING OR WORKING HARD EVEN WHEN NOBODY ELSE IS WATCHING.”

Ever had a thought like that during training? Well, honestly I will tell you you’re not alone. Here is a short “story” (not written by me) that I found on another forum that should inspire those that are starting to slack in training. Here it is:

The world’s a mighty big place.

There’s an awful lot of people living in the world.

In a place that big, with that many people, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t matter if you slack off a bit in your training. After all, there’s plenty of other days to train, and it won’t matter if you take it easy for once. Heck, it won’t matter if you even miss a day. You can always come in and do it tomorrow.

When you’re running sprints, you don’t always have to go full bore. You can slow down a step. The coach will never even know. And slowing down just a little tiny bit makes it hurt a whole lot less.

When you’re lifting weights, you don’t always have to go for that extra rep, or try to put more weight on the bar. Just make it look good. Throw in an extra grunt or two, and put on one of those big pain faces like the guys in the muscle mags when they do their photo shoots. The coach will never know.

You really don’t have to get up and go running before the sun is out. It’s okay to sleep in. No one will ever know.

You don’t have to do 200 pushups a day like you decided to do last week. You can do 50. Or you can skip ‘em today. No one will know.

You don’t have to watch your diet the way your Coach wants you to do. Going out with your buds for a double-dish pizza with everything on it is fine. Wash it down with a couple of cokes, and then go grab a burger and fries from Burger Heaven. You can always get back on your diet tomorrow. No one will ever be the wiser.

In fact, if you’ve got talent, skill and a little bit of speed, you can probably sleepwalk your way through 90 percent of the conditioning stuff that the Coach keeps talking about. Maybe it’s all for the second-stringers. The guys who don’t have God-given talent that you have. The guys who need to do grass drills because they have slow feet. The guys who need to do pushups because they aren’t very strong. The guys who need to watch what they eat because they don’t have a good metabolism.

You can think like that, and you can act like that, and no one will ever know. After all, the world’s a mighty big place. The Coach can’t be everywhere.

But if that’s how you approach things, think about this.

Somewhere, at another school, in another town, there’s a kid who’s your age and your size, and he plays the sport you do, and he’s got every bit of God-given talent that you have. In fact, we could put the two of you side by side right now, and you’d match up exactly equal.

But here’s something you need to know.

That very same kid is out there running full-bore sprints every single day. He runs them as hard as he can.

He never misses a weight lifting session, and when he lifts, he always goes for that extra rep. Some times he goes for two or even three extra reps. And he always tries to add weight to the bar.

He gets up every morning, rolls out of bed, throws on his sweats, and goes for a long run. He gets home about the time the sun is starting to climb over the horizon.

The Coach wanted him to do 200 pushups every day. He does 300.

He works as hard on his diet as he does on his training. He never eats anything unless it is going to give him energy to train, protein to grow, or vitamins and minerals to build his body. He doesn’t touch junk food or sweets. He can’t remember the last time he had pizza, French fries, a cookie or a candy bar.

Yes, the world’s a mighty big place.

But it becomes a mighty small place when there are two men running right at each other at top speed on an open field, one running for the winning touchdown and the other man the last defender blocking his path to the goal.

I’m older than you, and I’ve seen it happen over and over, and I know for a fact that this is going to happen.

It’s going to happen to you.

It’s all going to come down to you and him. Just the two of you. Right there in the middle of the field, in front of three thousand screaming fans.

You’re going to hit right there in the middle of the field, full force, one on one, with everything on the line. The whole season. It’s all gonna come down to this split second in time.

And that great big world out there shrinks right down to something small and tiny when two men hit try to occupy the same square foot of turf.

This will happen. I know it, your Coach knows it, and you know it.

So does the kid in the other school in the other town.

You will meet, you will hit, and one of you will knock the other one flat on his back right in front of the entire world.

Right now, I don’t know which of you is gonna end up making the play of the year, and which of you is gonna end up roiling in the dirt with tears in his eyes, crying like a baby because he missed the chance of a lifetime.

No one knows.

We don’t know, because we don’t know which of the two of you is gonna train harder.

It might be him. It might be you.

But it’s your decision…

Brooks D. Kubik