Something I’ve been doing recently when I train (people who don’t train bear with me – there’s a point to this) is putting all the stuff I hate in the warmup. For instance, I find mobility work boring and lunges soul-destroying – so I do a circuit of them while I’m still gearing up for squat day, withMetallica on my headphones and a brain that’s ready to go. From experience, I know that if I leave them until the end – after I’ve fried myself with heavy, high-rep squats, say – the temptation to not bother will be unbearable. Sometimes I’ll take this further by putting the stuff I really love – like doing Battling Ropes to failure, or ring chin-ups – at the end of my workout, so that I’m still excited about training by the time I get to them. I’d recommend it.
Think of this as ‘Eating The Frog First.’ It’s a phrase I’ve heard from Dan John (strength coach, shot putter, nice man) and John Hackleman (Chuck Liddell’s trainer), and it comes from the idea that if you’ve got to finish a plateful of food, and the worst thing on it is a live frog, you get that little amphibian bastard out of the way early. Eat him first, and the rest is easy.
This works wonderfully in workouts, but also everywhere else. Most simply, it’s a good idea in your diet: as recent research on willpower will tell you, you’re going to have your self-discipline ground down over any given day by all the unpleasant tasks of life, and so it makes sense to get your best meal in early. Have an omelette with peppers, tomato and onion, maybe some blueberries on the side, and you’ve already done a lot of the day’s healthy work before you’ve been battered into wanting a pizza by dealing with problems all day. But this also works elsewhere. If you’ve decided to write a book, get your chapter for the day done before you even set off for work – Anthony Trollope used to do this, and regularly turned out 2,000 words before heading to his job at the post office. Once you’re at work, do the most important thing you need to do that day before you hit the coffee machine. Eat the frog first, and everything else is easy.
HOMEWORK: When you’re training this week, pick the thing you know you should do more of – pull-ups, dips, lunges, mobility, whatever – and do it as part of your warm-up. Don’t train? You need to: do three sets of press-ups and squats before you shower in the morning. Eat the frog first.