Rock On With Your Imperfect Plan

 

A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. – paraphrasing George Patton

There’s this trainer at the gym I go to. He’s in excellent shape, well built, and he regularly drops snide comments in my direction.

I show up at the gym after a four-day absence: “Long time.”

I work out for half an hour and get ready to leave: “Finished already?”

His remarks are accompanied by subtle eye rolls and head shakes, communicating his belief that I’m a green fool with a bad fitness plan.

And you know what? He might be right.

Regardless, I keep showing up once every four days, working out for only a half-hour at a time, and shrugging off whatever soft jabs this dude sends my way.

Ignoring Good Advice

Since announcing my muscle-building challenge a few weeks back, I’ve received dozens of emails and comments from people offering me advice on how to bulk-up. And just like the trainer at the gym, many of these folks know what they’re talking about. All of them are in good shape. Some of them are fitness professionals. Others have achieved aims similar to mine.

And yet I’ve pretty much ignored everything they’ve told me.

Not that I don’t appreciate them taking the time. Not that I believe those tips won’t work for me.

It’s just that I already have a plan, and I’m going to see it through.

A few weeks from now, after giving this first plan a legitimate shot, I may find myself falling well short of my goal. And then, sure, I’ll move on and try something else.

But not until then.

The way I see it, I’m better off sticking to one imperfect plan than trying to come up with some kind of perfect frankenstein plan based on everyone’s recommendations. The latter would just leave me confused and frustrated, constantly adding new pieces to the puzzle but never sticking with any one piece long enough to see if it really fits.

By ignoring everyone and sticking to one plan, as imperfect as it may be, I at least get to find out a few things for sure.

One Plan At A Time

Many of us have this obsession about doing things right the first time, because we’re terrified that we might take the wrong path, waste our time, and look foolish in front of others.

Here’s the thing though: we’re so concerned about making mistakes that we either never do anything, or we try to do everything. Neither extreme works out well. Better off picking one focused approach that you can believe in and stick with it for a while.

And when everyone and their trainer’s grandma advises you to change course, just smile polite and hold steady. Don’t switch it up until you’re good and ready.

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34 Comments

  1. I love this post, man. It’s been like this with my income lately. I’m hovering between different strategies, it seems. It’s okay, though. I know I have the internal strength to stick with a plan. And I’m gonna do dat.

    Yes, it does seem that the trainer’s grandma knows the best method. Rock on, grandma’s of the world!

  2. I think people that work out seriously might view your plan as naive or – worse yet – as disrespectful.

    Having a nice body takes a TON of effort, and adding lean mass is arguably the most difficult chore their is. It takes a disciplined diet, regimented eating patterns, and a structured schedule in the gym.

    Your plan (from what I’ve seen) has absolutely a zero percent chance of working for you, so maybe these naysayers just want to save you some money and time – they are probably actually trying to help you out.

  3. You are absolutely right to do what you are doing. I also followed my own path and plan while raising my kids as a single mom though nearly everyone believed I needed to do things a different way. I’m very glad I stuck with it even when I was scared to go against the norm and not totally sure I was doing the right thing. I parented with my heart and my gut and now my kids are amazing adults each different from the other, talented, have great devotion to family and passions for what they love in life. I could not be more proud of them and how our lives have turned out.

    • I’m adding this as a reply to Sherri & Naill because Sherri expressed what I wanted to say so well. I’m also a parent..Never in my life had I recieved so many opinions, criticisms, questioning about pretty much everything. When you choose to raise your children in a manner that is not considered the norm. People from family, friends , to complete strangers give you their opinion all the time. You obviously take this all in. Often you question your choice’s (mainly because of the suggestions), but ultimatly if you believe in your approach (I do) you have stuck to it. So far:) mine has proven successful. Their amazing!! It’s scary following our own path, but it can be especially rewarding when your outcome is what you hoped for or better.:) Good luck Niall! And Congrats Sherri.

  4. I’m sorry (because this is my first comment) but I’ve to disagree. I think you have to listen to all these people who spent time on giving you what they believe is a good advice. And then change all advices and adapt them to you. To your plan and your nature. So it will become a good plan, in which you feel comfortable, it is yours and when you achieve it you will feel proud of you.
    And “leave it” is not a good recommendation.
    Also, if you think your plan is better for you how it is, try to convince people who think differently.
    Sorry about my English, I tried my best.
    Plan to have fun, or just have fun.
    This remind me, some people don’t need plan everything at all times, people should respect that.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jenny-Li.

      I do listen and respect the people sending me advice. But I think it’s distracting to try incorporate it all into my current plan.

      Also, I’m by no means convinced that my plan is better than any other. As I mention in the post, there’s a good chance I could end up looking like a fool here. So I’m not going to try convince others that my plan is better, at least not until I see some solid results from it.

      • Well, whatever happens, you won’t end up looking like a fool! You **will** end up learning that what you did either does or doesn’t work, but if you change what you are doing every time the wind blows, THAT would be foolish.

        Sounds to me like this trainer guy is either looking for you to become a client (though he’s going about it in a strange way), or else just puffing himself up by trying to make you look bad. The fact that it isn’t making you look bad at all is probably very upsetting to him :-)

        Just keep on keeping on….I am certain that once your experiment is done, you’ll adapt your routine to whatever works best.

  5. Totally agree with you Niall – you have to do what feels right for YOU. I think what happened here is that you already had a plan when people started giving advice (i.e. it came too late), and you’re the kind of person who sticks to his plans (unless they prove not to work). So as I see it you’re being totally true to yourself and your method. Rock on and good luck! :)

  6. I agree completely with that. You do what you consider it is better for you until you see the results, you might have been wrong or not, in which case you will have created a way to do thing that other people can benefit from or just ignore it as well because they prefer to try things their way…
    I won’t say it’s not good to follow other people’s advises but it’s positive too to create your own plan and see what happens.
    Good luck with your plan!

  7. Speaking of sticking to your plans, how is being fluent in Spanish working out? I haven’t seen you discuss that much lately.

    • I’m nowhere near fluent, and have definitely regressed since I left Spain last August.

      I’m still aiming to become fluent, but while traveling through non-Spanish speaking countries I’ve bumped it way down my list of priorities.

  8. I’m no expert, admittedly, but I suspect Pareto’s law is often at work with this sort of thing. When you browse bodybuilding communities online, many of the routines posted are split routines that take up a full five days and work different muscle groups each day. For anyone with a job/business to run/life to live, that’s a lot of time to spend in the gym.

    But if you read, for example, Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe, who’s widely renowned in this bodybuilding circles, he recommends a simple three day routine, focusing on just four core movements. With this, gym sessions don’t take longer than an hour, usually, for three times a week. Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness suggests and even more economical version of this in his posts, with sessions lasting no longer than 45 minutes.

    I’m not saying that you won’t see better results with the heavier routines. But the fact is, your average gym-goer will barely notice the difference in results between the two. This is especially true when you consider that your diet is the most important factor in your growth anyway. So for someone who isn’t attempting to become a bodybuilder, and just wants to look better naked, I think those extra few hours per week spent in the gym for an ever decreasing yield aren’t worth it.

    Obviously the four-hour routine is even more of an extreme compared to those routines. And it might not work, but you can always learn from that and come to a compromise somewhere in the middle. But if it does work, then great! Efficiency is better than work for works sake.

  9. When you announced the challenge I wasn’t sure if you had access to a gym or not, as that looked like a pretty rural Nepalese area. But you have a gym and a trainer, so I’m confident you can put on some serious weight. It doesn’t have to be all muscle, given your current low bodyfat. Go Niall!

    • That’s a good point – having 6% bodyfat is insanely good to start with b/c you can eat the hell out of Greek yogurt and just pack on the solid lean mass. I’d be eating like 3 pints of that per day if I were Niall as well as chicken thighs, steak, etc.

    • Actually, scratch that 6% body fat measurement. A more experienced trainer took my measurements four days later and they were very different. Seems the pinch technique the first guy used wasn’t anywhere close to ideal.

      My body fat as of May 24th: 13%

  10. This is so right. You will never have the perfect plan, and waiting until you do is just foolish.

    While some planning is important, it’s taking ACTION , which is the most important.
    Just getting started, getting into motion.

    Does Microsoft wait until each version of Windows is perfect to release it? Nope.

    They unleash it upon the unsuspecting hordes, and issue patches to fix stuff along the way.

    Best of luck with your muscle challenge Niall.