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Begin With the End in Mind

By May 11, 2010December 26th, 2013Training Philosophy

In Ken Blanchard’s book entitled The One Minute Manager, he recommends that you:

1. Look at your goals
2. Look at your performance, and
3. See if your behavior matches your goals

All too often people have fitness goals yet their behaviors don’t match those goals. I see guys who say they want to gain 20 lbs of muscle yet they’re doing all kinds of energy system development and conditioning work and eating like birds. I see guys who want to put 50 lbs on their squat or deadlift yet they’re doing all sorts of plyometrics, agility work, and speed-training. You can certainly be “Jack of All Trades, Master of None,” but you’re not going to reach your goals anytime soon. For the record, I have nothing against conditioning work or explosive training, but behaviors have to match goals if they are to be reached expediently. Furthermore, nobody is going to reach any goals if they can’t be consistent with their diet, sleep, and life choices. Many individuals will spend at least six hours per week getting ready, driving to the gym, working out, and driving home. If you’re going to dedicate this much time to something, you might as well see some results and reach some milestones.

Begin With the End in Mind

In his book entitled Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends that we “begin with the end of mind.” All things are created twice; first in the mind, and second in the physical world. When we begin with the end in mind, we can start with a vision and work our way backward, making sure we take the necessary steps along the way.

My Plan

Here is my plan. I recommend that you lay out a similar plan and keep it simple.


1. To deadlift 600 lbs within the next three months (currently at 545)
2. To do so while losing 10 lbs (currently weigh 235, want to drop down to 225)


1. Be dialed in with my sleep, nutrition, and positivity
2. Keep working hard on my grip strength during special workouts via shrugs, one arm lever rows, thick bar holds, and pinch grips
3. Keep increasing my work capacity for recovery purposes via special workouts and additional restorative work
4. Bring up my core strength via ab wheel rollouts, side planks, Pallof presses, chops, lifts, and landmines
5. Keep bringing up my main lifts and assistance lifts; squat variations, deadlifts variations, quad, ham, and glute exercises
6. Limit daily carbohydrate consumption and reduce cheat meals to two per week


As you can see, I have clearly defined goals and my behaviors are aligned with those goals. You don’t see any distractions or contradictions either. By beginning with the end in mind, I know that in order to deadlift 600 lbs I’ll first need to be able to hold onto 600 lbs. It doesn’t matter if I have all the back and hip strength in the world if I don’t have the grip strength to perform the lift. I know that my core needs to get stronger along with my hips, legs, and upper back. I have confidence in the plan that I’ve outlined and am excited for each workout along the way. More importantly, I’ve already deadlifted 600 lbs in my mind, so I’m half-way there. Now it’s your turn. Create some goals and start working toward something! It makes training much more fun and rewarding.


  • Mark Young says:

    Great post man! So often people neglect to set goals and wonder why they get nowhere. And Stephen Covey is the man!

  • chris matsui says:

    “More importantly, I’ve already deadlifted 600 lbs in my mind”

    Great statement there, mental training is a huge part of getting PR’s. This thought process is completely instilled with weightlifters (Olympic style). It’s such an important aspect that Tommy Kono is writing a book solely focused on mental training for weightlifters.

    Keep up the great posts!

  • Howard Gray says:

    Thanks for the myriad of info – I enjoyed it!

    Cheers for bringing up the volume issue with unilateral exercises – something that has to be considered especially with beginners who can only handle so much. Also it was interesting to see the EMG readings from the Bulgarian Squats – do you know of any data on how much force is going through the rear leg? Need to get on a double plate force platform and try it out. I am sure it is significant – and this would further complicate the unilateral vs. bilateral “argument”.

    Now start work on the 25 separate articles 😉

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