Absorb What Is Useful, Reject What Is Useless - Tucson Personal Training Blog

Absorb What Is Useful, Reject What Is Useless - Tucson Personal Training Blog

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless.”

“Using no way as the way, accept no limitation as limitation.”

Bruce Lee

The two quotes in today’s post were introduced to me by our fellow coach, Chad Robinson. The “using no way as the way” quote has been the signature line on his email for as long as I’ve known him. Honestly, although I’ve always admired and respected Bruce Lee’s wisdom, that quote never made a lot of sense to me until recently. In the fitness world, it’s not a lack of information that holds us back, but rather TOO MUCH information that causes many people to suffer from paralysis by analysis. Trying to achieve a deep understanding of all the minutiae of a particular thing will often hold us back. Pavel Tsatsouline told us, “Understanding is a stall tactic… do you want to study hydro aquatics or do you want to learn how to swim?”

The first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in 1993… exactly 20 years after Bruce Lee’s death. It was far more brutal back then than today’s events: There were no weight classes, no timed rounds (they just go to knockout or submission), no judges, and almost no rules (‘no biting’ and ‘no eye gouging’ were about it). One of the objectives of the event was to settle, once and for all, which fighting style was superior. Prior to this event, almost no one had heard of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu (BJJ). However, after Royce Gracie destroyed the competition in UFC 1, today BJJ schools are on every street corner in America.

The UFC has greatly evolved since then, and if there is one thing we’ve figured out, is that this concept of ‘mixed martial arts’ or MMA for short, is superior over allowing oneself to become tied to the dogmatic approach of one particular style of fighting. Turns out Bruce Lee’s ‘using no way as the way’ was ahead of its time... I wonder what he would have to say about UFC if he were still alive today?

The Protocol Strength & Conditioning represents a 9-year long journey of absorbing what is useful and rejecting what is useless. “The way” to lifelong health and wellness was not clearly defined for me when I started this thing, so I made it my goal to seek those ways out. Essentially, although I didn’t see it that way at the time, I was taking Mr. Lee’s advice and using no way as the way.

Like most new trainers, I began my career by emulating what I was seeing at the time:

1. Walk into gym

2. Walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes to “warm up”

3. Train a few isolated specific body parts… about 2-3 per workout

4. Go home and admire said “pumped up” body parts in the mirror.

5. Repeat for several years

6. Wonder why results are not happening

I have training logs going back many years and it’s fun to see how my programming and overall thinking has evolved over that time. Needless to say, I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things… and continue to do so. That’s not always popular in certain professional circles (especially political ones), but I’m glad it’s more acceptable in mine.

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The most frequent criticism of my training methodology is that it’s too conservative and there’s no possible way something this simple and moderate can be effective. At this point, my resume speaks for itself so I won’t be redundant, but there’s certainly a delicate balance between continuing to get stronger beyond the point of novice, and not becoming injured. Over the years I’ve had the misfortune of watching friends and colleagues spend years going BEAST MODE in the gym, only to now being barely able to deadlift their Amazon Prime box from their porch. I’ve had to manually deconstruct these methodologies to accept what is useful, and reverse-engineer the long-term repercussions in order to reject what is useless.

This brings us to root of what I’d like to cover today: keeping a curious mind.

In one’s life and social circles, we have the opportunity to get to know ‘young’ people who are ‘old’ and ‘old’ people who are ‘young’. We have a handful of folks we work with here that are in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s… and I consider a vast majority of them to be ‘young’. They all have one thing in common: They all have curious minds. They are not ‘old fuddy-duddy’s’ that are set in their ways. They are sharp, they are wise, and (most importantly), they never consider themselves to be ‘done with learning’.

They love when we introduce a new warm-up or a new exercise. They get exited about going on vacations to places they’ve never been. Their hearts are youthful, they aren’t complacent, and I strongly believe this is the lifeblood of what keeps them ‘young’.

Compare this to the 180-degree opposite type of “old” person (I’m using “old” in quotation marks because, by this analogy, this can be someone in their 30’s), who has decided that since their life in academia is over, the learning journey had ended. This mind becomes rusty from lack of use and ages very poorly.

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It’s very easy to become dogmatic in our thinking, and in all the times life forces us to pivot, the process is, by no means, easy or comfortable. However, the person who emerges from walking through this fire is always superior to the one who didn’t.

I hope this post makes you think about a fire that you may need to walk through that you’ve been avoiding. Maybe it’s time to take on a physical challenge. Perhaps it’s finally time to start eating better. Maybe there’s a family member you need to have an uncomfortable conversation with. I hope you find the strength to refuse to accept your limitation as a limitation.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Marie and dog Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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