“There is no royal road to geometry.” — Euclid
In ancient times, there were (as the stories go) “royal roads” that only the kings could travel on. They were glorified short-cuts, making travel from one place to another faster and easier if you happened to be royalty.
According to legend, Euclid was sponsored by Ptolemy I Soter (“Ptolemy the Savior”), a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great who became ruler of Egypt.
Ptolemy thought Euclid’s Elements — one of the most important books ever written by anyone, anywhere —was too hard. So he asked him if there was a way to learn the material easier.
Euclid then gave his famous response, “There is no Royal Road to Geometry.” In other words, the only way to get good is to do the work. Being a pretty-pretty princess (or Ptolemy) doesn’t change that.
Beginners to weightlifting — to anything — are in a constant search for the magic road, the secret, the special something that will make their journey faster and easier. Too bad. You ain’t royalty, and even if you were, there are no royal roads to GainZville.
However, there ARE many different roads! There are LOTS of roads up to the top of the mountain — many ways to practice and learn geometry; many ways to practice and learn weightlifting. What matters is that you pick one, walk the whole way up, doing the work, embracing the process.
Unfortunately, what beginners do is they take a little piece of one road, a little piece of another, a slice of another, and then wonder why they never get anywhere.
What matters is that the road you are on is GOING somewhere. It does NOT matter if every step along the way is beautiful, if the cobble stones are shiny enough, or if the smell of the flowers is aromatic and to your liking. By cobbling together little bits of different roads — without any sense of where each of them was going, or how they were getting there — the beginner builds for themselves a road to nowhere.
Process is the fundamental “secret” to success — in anything. It’s not about the “sets” or “reps”. It’s not about “percentages of your max”. It’s not about whether you learn the snatch or the clean first. Etc. The POINT is to find a road (a process) and follow that road through to the finish.
Coaches, like me, don’t have all of the answers. Hell, we barely have ANY answers! But what we strive to have is a road that you can follow to reach the top of the mountain. I have no idea if my road is the “best” road. But I am trying to make it the best possible road I can. (You’ll notice how my programs and progressions tend to change over time.)
My job is to be a road builder — I’ll worry about where the road is going, how efficient the path is to the top, how safe and effective the moments along the path will be.
Your job is to be the best road warrior (traveler with a passion) you can be. Take every step with purpose, with quality, with intensity. Royal roads are for wimps…
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Now go lift something heavy,
PS. The picture is of our lifter Eli, or rather, his quads. When people wonder how a little 77kg lifter has squatted 500 pounds, and grown quads like that, they are hoping for a “secret”. The truth is that he squats for 30 to 50 high-quality, hard, technically sound, reps on the squat per day (5 to 7 days per week) PLUS he rides his bike for work PLUS he does lots of extra leg work like reverse lunges, bulgarian split squats, etc PLUS he does all of the mobility training one would expect PLUS he does Olympic lifting PLUS … it keeps going! The only answer worth a damn is: lots of work of very high quality. No royal roads.