Train like a MAD scientist

The gold standard.

In the fields of science there is an accepted level of precision.  This is in part because research is both peer reviewed and repeated.  So for a finding to be seen as reliable or trustworthy it has to deliver the same results, under the same conditions, by anyone, anywhere in the world.   

Training is the same.  Whilst it is mostly true that a regime which works for one person, if precisely replicated (all other things being equal), will deliver similar results for another person.  Where this concept is particularly powerful is when it is applied to an individual's training.

Train like a MAD scientist.

When you apply a scientific method to your training, all things being equal, you guarantee success.  It is that simple.  It becomes a mathematical certainty.

Steps to formulate a scientific method:

  1. Define a specific goal
  2. Outline the options available to achieve that specific goal
  3. Select an option and build a framework or plan around that option (aka a hypothesis)
  4. Test your hypothesis by precisely executing your plan
  5. Track and measure your results
  6. Formulate a conclusion

Granted some forms of training don't easily lend themselves to applying a scientific method, but with a little thought you'll be surprised how easy it is.  Here are some examples:

Scenario 1 - I want to lose 5kgs / 10lbs.

  1. Lose 5kgs / 10lbs in 10 weeks.
  2. Consume less calories (deficit), increased exercise, or a combination of both.
  3. Calorie deficit and exercise.  Consume 2300 calories to maintain weight.  Reduce calorie consumption to 2000 and run 3x p/w to burn 400 calories each session.
  4. Eat only 2000 calories every day for 10 weeks.  Run 3x p/w for 10 weeks.
  5. Track and measure results every week for 10 weeks.
  6. Lost approximately 5kgs / 10lbs in 10 weeks!  Conclusion: Success! This method worked for me.

Scenario 2 - I want to increase my back squat.

  1. Back squat 90kgs / 200lbs for 3 sets of 12 repetitions in 2 months.
  2. Back squat 3x p/w, back squat 1x p/w, focus on posterior chain exercises 3x p/w.
  3. Incorporate back squat 3x p/w into regular routine.  Drop starting weight by 10kgs / 20lbs.  Perform 3 sets of 12 reps 3x p/w increasing the weight each week by 2.5kgs / 5ibs.
  4. Back squat 3x p/w for 2 months.  Starting weight of 70kgs / 160ibs increasing the weight each week by 2.5kgs / 5lbs.
  5. Track and measure results every workout for 2 months.
  6. Back squat at the end of 2 months = 100kgs / 220lbs!  Conclusion: Success! Outstanding result for me.

Scenario 3 - I want to get better at Yoga.

  1. Wrap my fingers around each big toe in a standing position (bent over) with straight legs after 2 months.
  2. Go to yoga practice everyday (except moon days!), go to yoga practice 3x p/w, go to yoga practice once a week and go vegan.
  3. Go to yoga practice 3x p/w.
  4. Go to yoga practice 3x p/w for 2 months and look forward to every Shavasana.
  5. Monitor #1 at each practice.
  6. Can't quite wrap my fingers around my toes after 2 months, but a significant improvement from my start point.  Conclusion: Success! I am going to keep working on it and maybe go vegan after all!

It is all about the numbers.

It sounds boring, and it is, but master the numbers and you will take control of your journey.  The beauty of breaking your goal down into numbers is that, assuming you make your goal measurable and achievable, your can forecast your own success and be realistic about what is possible.  With this kind of certainty it is much easier to stay focused  because you know exactly what you need to do and in what time frame.

By being methodical about tracking and measurement you not only develop a discipline around your training, but you also create a permanent record which you can analyse and refine.   You can learn what works and most importantly what doesn't work, and critically, what the net effect of those "cheat" days and missed workouts really were to your end goal.

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