How to get “Un-stalled,” “Un-stuck,” and get stronger once again

Yesterday I was at Peter Lakatos’ house here in Hungary, just outside Budapest in a town who’s name I can’t spell, let alone pronounce.

He showed us his “garage” which is in quotes, because that’s what he told us it was supposed to be. Instead, there was no garage door, but a window, and a relatively soft interlocking blue panel mat floor. It was Peter’s own personal gym.

In it he had a set of stall bars, rings, a pull-up bar, a variety of kettlebells, including an 80kg, which I knocked off about 10 pretty easy swings with, a barbell set with two different bars – olympic and trap, and about 40 different other little pieces of equipment.

In short, it was perfect.

Except there were no dipping bars.

And that was a problem for me because parallel dips have been a staple in my training over the last 3 months. I’ve found them to be an excellent movement to help me “plank up” my midsection and combat all the extension and overhead work I’ve done over the last 15 years.

So, I eyeballed Peter’s gymnastic rings hanging from his pull-up bar and set them up for dips.

Holy Moly!

If you’ve never done dips on rings before you are in for an experience like no other. As soon as I hoisted myself up on the rings, every muscle in my body seemed to contract to keep me from-

a) swinging all over the place,

b) to keep my shoulders from ripping out of their sockets, and

c) to keep me from falling on my face.

The most noticeable sensation was just how hard it was on my triceps, lats, abs and pecs to just hold myself in place. My pecs literally cramped up right on the spot!

Fortunately Rif was there to give me some gymnastics pointers to help get me on track and not totally kill myself. The big take away – externally rotate my arms, starting from my hands on the rings.

Once I got the hang of balancing myself there, I was ready to attempt the dips.

Unlike the parallel bars, when dipping on rings, your body has no choice but to “plank up” when you perform the concentric portion of the dip. At least mine didn’t. My abs and obliques just about cramped with no extra conscious help from my mind. It was automatic.

I was finally able to knock off a whopping 3 or 4 sets of 3 reps.

How humbling. And how different from the stable parallel dipping bars. I guess that’s one of the reasons gymnasts have spectacular pec, shoulder, and arm development.

So that and an email I got last night, got me thinking –

How do you get “un-stalled” or unstuck and start making continual progress in your training again?

Is it to try something different?

Sure, that’s part of it.

What’s the other part?

Well, you may not like the answer, but here it is…

Honest, brutal, self-analysis in the light of your goals.

Let me explain.

I got an email from John, one of my Kettlebell Burn Inner Circle members last night. Now I admire John for three reasons –

1) He’s smart enough to seek training guidance, so he’s a member of the Inner Circle,

2) He’s 71 and still focused on making progress at an age when most people kick back and “retire”

3) He’s willing to ask questions and make the necessary changes even when they challenge his current beliefs.

John was asking me about my nutrition recommendations in this month’s Inner Circle program. He then went on to tell me exactly what he was doing – which was basically the opposite of what I was suggesting. And then he wanted my honest thoughts about the eating regimen he had created for himself.

I then emailed him back and asked him a very important question – which is the crux of this blog post –

“Is what you’re currently doing giving you the results you honestly and truly desire? If so, keep doing that thing. If not, why not give what I’m suggesting a shot since it is born of my own personal experience and has worked very well for me?”

And that’s the key to getting “un-stalled” and getting stronger again.

It’s looking in the mirror in a candid moment of self-reflection and asking yourself if what you’re doing is really working to help you achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

Then you can either be fine with where you are and keep traveling down that road, or you can desire to make progress again and try something that has been proven to work by other people with the same goals or interests that you have.

I could’ve let the fact that Peter didn’t have a set of parallel dipping bars stall my progress on gaining strength in the dipping movement. But instead, I took a look at what Peter did have, and used that to my advantage.

(What most people don’t know about Peter is that pound-for-pound, he’s incredibly strong – the guy can do a Get Up with a 132 pound kettlebell at a bodyweight of about 176 pounds. That’s 3/4 of his bodyweight by the way. And he’s almost snatched that kettlebell too…)

In doing so, I acknowledged that Peter had some training experience that I did not and that I could learn from him to make me even stronger. Then I had Rif, a former competitive gymnast, help me with my technique so I didn’t hurt myself and could get something out of the equipment.

So instead of passing on the dips for two weeks, I got some amazing strength experience along with help from others more experienced then me, that I can take home and continue to use for my benefit.

And why is that important to me?

Because like I said in my last blog post, I’m currently pursuing body mastery. And parallel dips on a set of rings will definitely help me in that quest.

And why is that important to you?

Because if you’re serious about getting results with your training, kettlebell or otherwise, you need some brutally honest self-assessment every once in awhile.

So what quest are you on?

Are you still making progress or have you stalled out?

Are your beliefs holding you back? Have you even examined them recently in light of your current goals?

If not, are you willing to do so?

It’s ok if you’re not, just as long as your honest with yourself about it.

See, it takes courage to examine your training.

And that’s because most of the time we look for “research” to support our pre-existing beliefs, to justify our current behaviors, and therefore, put our minds at rest.

The only problem with that approach is when it comes to results.

See, when your beliefs don’t match up with your results, you’ve got a disconnect.

You become disconnected from reality. The reality is you may no longer be seeing results but you’re still proceeding on a course that isn’t supporting your goals. In fact, it may be taking you further away from your goals.

I know – it happened to me.

That’s why I quit Olympic lifting cold turkey. It was taking me away from my long-term goals. That’s why in the last 10 months I’ve completely revamped my life – from my eating, to sleeping (well, a new-born will help with that), to my training.

And that’s why one of my assistants from the 2009 RKC here in Hungary didn’t even recognize me the other day at Rif’s seminar.

And it takes more courage to change your course of action.

Now I’m not writing this to say that I’m more courageous than you or anything like that. Far from it. What I’m saying is if you’re stuck, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there myself. For a long time. And if I could finally do it, you can to.

It’s not easy by any stretch, but it is well worth it.

How do I know? Because of the deep inner peace and mental clarity I am now experiencing.

If you want to finally get “unstuck” and start getting strong again, then check this out – it’s right up your alley. It’s helped John out. It’ll help you too.

That’s all from Hungary. Level 2 starts bright and early tomorrow.

1 comment… add one
  • Nicholas Wind Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:39

    Great post Jeff !
    I’ve learned much from yourself and some others who I follow.
    I’m a 55 year old who has just redone all my online marketing
    to now help others loose weight.
    After 4 years learning online marketing such as blogging and all
    the SEO that goes with a blog I’ve now brought my passion offline and am helping a friend loose weight.
    I have 3 more folks now coming to me to help them.
    My wife is actually one of the 3.
    That’s after 20 years of marriage Jeff.
    People have just seen my commitment to fitness over the years.
    And I know in your crowd this is maybe normal but I have a six pack and folks are stunned at that.
    I’m also a big guy at 6ft 6in 250 lbs.
    Folks had told me over the years while working jobs I hated that hey Nicholas you should be training folks and helping them with their fitness and wellness.
    I’m also very well versed an anti aging which is another passion of mine as I am a voraciuos reader.
    Bottom line Jeff is I’m inspired by folks like you and your friends…especially when you write above about the 71 year young guy still “doing it.”
    LUv it!

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