This post comes after a conversation I had with one of my long-term clients (3.5 years) during a goal setting session we had last week.  If you are like like me, or my client for that matter, and have been training fairly consistently for an extended period of time and your body composition and strength are on par with where you want them to be then what is a reasonable goal for all the hard work you put in?  Where do you go next?

This was exactly how our conversation began.  What I presented to him was the notion of kaizen which is Japanese slow continuous progress as a way to approach not only training but life in general.  Many businesses have been using this principle as a way to improve efficiency with their employees for centuries.  If you have ever read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (I hope you have…….changing) then it is the same concept as sharpening the saw.  If you take anything away from this post let it be this, if you are not improving then chances are you are declining.  There, you have been inceptioned.

In the fitness world we always speak about setting goals.  Goals are great, they give us something to work towards.  But the fact of the matter is that too many people set vague goals that they will never reach either because they don’t care enough or just don’t know how.  In my opinion this is bullshit.

You go to the gym for improvement which means that you want to make a change.  You care about what you look like and you care about your health.  I mean, why would you put in all that work for nothing?  That’s absolutely insane in my opinion.

How long does it take to get better at something?  Days?  Months?  Years?

The truth is that there is no reason that you can’t improve daily or from session to session.  You don’t necessarily have to lift more weight or run a faster mile.  It could be as simple as doing an extra set or finishing the same workout just a little faster or even just tightening up your squat technique.  Even if it is only 1% better at SOMETHING, you are improving.  This is kaizen.

This hilarious video is from strength coach and owner of Movement Minneapolis, Dave Dellanave.  His philosophy is a bold one: PR Everyday or always set personal records.  If you think about it, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to get better at something.  This requires a little tracking but if you are already wasting your time in the gym with the same stale exercises or program this will actually be time gained.

Outside of the gym…

What if you could apply this to the rest of your life as well?  Diet?  Relationships?  Work?  Angry Birds?

You would awesome, er, well more awesome than you already are.  How do I know you are already awesome as shit?  You are reading this blog post when you could be doing other things.  

If you want to sprinkle a little kaizen in your life the best place to start is to sit down with a pencil and paper (or laptop but I like writing better) and make a small list of things or areas you would like to improve in your life.  It doesn’t just have to be gym and diet related so find ANYTHING that you feel you could improve, even if it is only by 1%.  It could be time wasted on Angry Birds (now you know where I was going with that), relationship with your significant other, friends, what you do with your downtime, knocking things off your bucket list, and the list goes on.

A simple one that can be tacked on to the end of the day rather than watching Dancing With the Stars is prepping your food for tomorrow or even better, the week.  Let’s face it, Dancing With the Stars (or any reality TV show for that matter) sucks and doesn’t make you any better of a person and can easily be replaced with something that does.  Not to mention that food prep or lack there of is one of if not THE biggest diet fail.

There you have it, kaizen.  Strive for continuous improvement.  Now you have been double inceptioned.

Written by Steve