As I write this, I am finding it hard to concentrate. I can't move my neck, and every bit of tissue surrounding my rib cage and extremities are pulsating with a dull, immobilizing ache that requires extra effort to overcome to move my hands or sit up straight. To be fair, I did this to myself. I went out of my way to get up early on my day off, drive to the gym, and inflict pain and injury on myself, the effects of which I should be feeling for the rest of the week.
I, like so many others, do this because I enjoy it. I guess at some point in my early development I did it because I wanted to elicit some specific result regarding muscular size or strength. But in the last decade, the associations I have built between the pain felt during a workout and the satisfaction felt after have become so strong that I don't even think about the end result anymore. I lift because I need to. I don't feel normal when I miss workouts. I become restless, antsy, even irritable. So strong has this association become that the strain of training gives me an immediate sense of joy, and the foregoing of this pain leaves me feeling like a lazy, purposeless lump.
We endure this nonsense because we want to succeed, and success is founded in consistency. Good habits that are carried out consistently over time add up to experiences and opportunities that would not otherwise exist. New trainees will often struggle with consistency, as the sacrifice that comes with each workout is not mentally grafted to the awesome sense of gratification that comes with realizing a major goal. This quality will largely determine the success or failure of someone who is transitioning to physical activity for the first time.
From a motivational standpoint, those who struggle with being consistent should make an effort to rewire their mental associations. This strategy is what made me the best trainer at a corporate gym that sold people on training in mass quantities. The unmotivated, sedentary housewives of middle-class suburbia would show up to sessions expecting a magic pill because some greasy-haired ex-car salesman in dress pants and an athletic t-shirt told them that his trainers were that good. By making sure that the first several sessions were as enjoyable as physically possible, I had the highest re-sign rate of any other trainer and, yes, even got a few of them to actually improve.
This works the same for the self-made athlete. When basics such as dieting and cardio are seen as inconvenient chores that only bring about wheezing and hunger pains, the motivation to avoid these tasks is very high. But when the thought of going to the gym to reach that next level of bad-ass fills you with joy and excitement for the future because you are a self-determined, conscious, sentient being in a universe filled with dead empty space, then the list of good habits needed to reach your goals will relegate themselves to the everyday list of 'things you do'.
From a training standpoint, consistency is simplicity should go hand in hand. Remember the 80/20 rule I touched on? Well, if we accept that the vast majority(80%) of your success is going to be determined by a small portion of your actions (20%), then it stands to reason that your efforts should be focused on these few actions, along with the discovery of other tasks that elicit a similar result. The following is from an interview with Andrey Malanichev, the best squatter and powerlifter in the world (1,014lb squat with wraps, 2,469lb total with wraps).
"First, I am in favor of simple training. I am skeptical of complicated “systems” and gimmicks in training, diet and lifestyle."
What is your favorite assistance lift for squat/bench/deadlift?
"I don’t have any assistance lifts. as i mentioned earlier i train very simply -just a lot of basic lift exercise."
This is a call against training ADD. The most well-read athletes tend to be the biggest pain in the asses to train because they are aware of the 15 different ways that the top 10 lifters in the world train, and it kills them that they can't do all of it. Consistently squatting will make you a better squatter, and you will enjoy all of the augmented physical abilities that come with this improvement. High and narrow, low and wide, safety bar, spider bar, curl bar, a mile high in a triple ply suit or beltless off of a 6” box; it doesn't matter. The relevent question is, “If I increase the amount of weight I can use in this movement by 100lbs, will I be a better athlete?”. Yes. Jesus, yes.
So, instead of squabbling about training methodologies, or which style of training is more conducive to the subtleties of your chosen sport, pick one, any one, and do it over and over and over again until you are better at it than anyone you know. Then evaluate whether it was a good use of your time to focus on this one task with such painful consistency that there just wasn't any time left in the day to train anything else. Ask yourself if it was smart to spend the time to become really good at this one key task, even at the expense of training all other 78 known variations of said lift. I can assure you that the answer will be, “yes, it fucking was.”