“The Art of War” has got to be one of the most prolific books on military strategy.
It is on just about every required reading list I’ve seen in the military and I’ve even heard it recommend a number of times to (and by) very successful business owners because there are lessons in the pages that apply to much more than just winning a military battle.
Let’s look at some of these lessons and how you can apply them to your daily life and improve your fitness.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”
Think about all of the workouts you’ve done in your lifetime.
How many of them were complete suck-fests that you absolutely hated?
Can you think of any that were enjoyable? Where you actually had fun?
This is the essence of this quote by Sun Tzu as it relates to your fitness. You’ve probably heard the quote “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Well, the same can be said about your training. If every day you go to the gym and slog through stuff you think you should be doing, without enjoying it at all… You’ve already lost.
But if you can find a training method, or a training focus, which you truly enjoy – Your training and fitness are going to benefit greatly.
“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”
Knowing yourself is hands down one of the most important factors in your success in life. More often than not people fail (at fitness, weight loss, business, relationships, etc) because they are unable to take a step back and honestly evaluate their own weaknesses.
So if you go into battle (against your low bank account, your body fat, or your strength) without knowing your individual weaknesses you’re going to have a hard time succeeding.
In fact, you’ll probably fail.
Thousands of “dieters” fail each and every day because they didn’t properly account for their weaknesses.
They left that ice cream, they know they can’t resist, in the freezer instead of throwing it away.
Or they skipped preparing their meals because they “know” they’ll just make good choices when they go to lunch with their friends (even though this has never worked in the past).
So look at your current goal(s) and figure out where are you weakest. Then figure out what you can do instead to avoid (or improve) that weakness and still win the battle (i.e. reach your goal).
“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”
Let’s talk about how your ego is holding you back…
This quote screams injury prevention to me… How many gym fail videos have you seen where someone is lifting something that is WAY outside their capabilities and it leads to (hilarious) failure?
Well for every silly YouTube video of some idiot doing something idiotic, there are probably a hundred other bros doing something equally stupid and it never gets caught on tape.
For example, CrossFit.
No matter your opinion of CrossFit, anyone who has any common sense will admit that it is not inherently dangerous.
Yet I’ve seen a bunch of people injure themselves from doing something outside of their current ability (Too much load, too much intensity, poor movement mechanics, lack of motor control, etc).
Which is where the ego come into play and will destroy you!
With that said…
For every clown (mentioned above) there are a thousand others in the CF community who are only concerned with proper mechanics and long-term health and success. These people always thrive in the long run.
You know, chances are pretty good that no one is a.) forcing you to lift that bar or b.) forcing you to do it in an unsafe manner so the only excuse you can have for moving shitty and adding that extra 20# you can’t actually handle is that your ego is too big and has strangled your common sense.
If you know when you can fight (safely perform an exercise) and when you can’t (Oh, if I do that my form goes to shit) will keep you in the game and injury-free for a long, long time.
“A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame”
Here’s a quick tip:
If you’re getting your fitness advice from someone who seems to spend more time posing for Instagram pictures than actually helping people, you’re probably wrong.
Same goes for all these awesome athletes coming out with their own programs and seminars. Although they may have gleaned some experience from the actual coaches responsible for their success, there is no substitute for actual coaching experience.
“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”
How many of you have seen this sign before?
This doesn’t just apply to deployments… It applies to your life, every single day.
Which is why I’m so passionate about strength & conditioning and helping you get access to training programs and knowledge that will make you harder to kill.
Sadly, fat cops and fat firefighters are tolerated these days (Comfortable & secure government jobs breed mediocracy).
Fitness standards are low or non-existent and the ”old breed” of guys who have been around a long time doesn’t seem to give a shit.
If you’re in a military or LEO job, you never know when you may encounter a life or death situation
Hell, even if you’re not, you never know when something crazy might happen and you need to be prepared to save your own life and the lives of your friends and/or family.
This enemy may never come.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train every day and prepare yourself in case he does.
Training your body & mind with the assumption that you’re going to be prepared for that enemy to come is a win-win game.
If he does show up, you’ll be ready.
If he doesn’t, you’ll stave off a host of other “enemies” that assail us in old age (chronic & preventable diseases, decreased strength & mobility, lower quality of life, etc).
I guarantee you that you won’t regret the extra time you spent today training to prepare for the unknown enemy and being prepared to receive any attack he throws at you.
”Failure is not a result of poor willpower, but a result of poor strategy”
Okay, so I cheated on this one.
This isn’t a quote by Sun Tzu… It’s a quote by James Clear, someone I’ve talked about a number of times in the past.
Regardless, he’s right.
Setting the conditions for your success is much more important that conjuring up more of that magical willpower. It is MUCH easier for you to eat healthy if you clean out all of the junk food in your pantry.
It is much easier to train hard and crush effective workouts if you have a plan to follow, a group class to go to, or a coach to keep you accountable.
Sun Tzu tells us to never strike where the enemy is strongest so you need to set the conditions in your daily life to avoid the most well-defended bad habits you have and attack the weakest areas first.
For some of you, that means taking a step back and putting your ego in check, reevaluating your own personal weaknesses, and tweaking your training to focus on destroying those weak areas. No matter how unsexy it may seem.
For others, who have fallen into the habit of NOT working out, it may just mean to start off doing something small every single day (i.e. 30 Push-ups as soon as I get out of bed or planning and preparing healthy lunches for the week) and gradually building from there.
Regardless of where you are in life, there are a number of great lessons in this book that you can apply to your health & fitness.
If you haven’t read the book yet, grab it here, it’s like $4 bucks…
If you’re ready to attack one of the most common training weakness I’ve seen people struggle with (Not knowing where to start or what to do) then now is a great time to sign up for your free 14-day trial of the Strategic Foundations Training Team.
Random workouts, with no real training focus, and a lack of accountability are two major reasons people fail to reach their fitness goals.
The Foundations Tram can help you solve both of those problems, destroy your weaknesses, and get you the strength, conditioning, and fitness you’ve always wanted. Check it out now!