While listening to the Kabuki Strength Chat podcast recently, I heard Travis Mash comment about mastering the mundane and now I can’t seem to get that concept out of my head. In the podcast, they asked Travis what commonalities he has seen between so many great athletes that he has trained. His answer was that they were all willing to master the mundane. This was just such a great statement that I thought it had the potential for an article (and I am sure it will let me get a few rants out at the same time).

I have never met a strength athlete or lifter who didn't actually love lifting, yet I continue to hear them brag about how often and hard they train. They are quick to talk about how intense they train and how important lifting is to them. They post tons of pumped uplifting videos on social media to prove it. The thing I never really understood about this is that we love lifting, so even if we do train hard, how hard is it? I think it is easy to train hard and push myself to the limit with the weights. Yes, it takes a lot of energy and effort. But when you really love it, how hard could it be?

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To prove my point, just ask an intense lifter to take a day off and see what his reaction is and listen to the multitude of reasons why he can’t. There was a point where I was no longer doing sports but had not yet found powerlifting. I continued to lift even though there really was no need to. During this time I trained hard and pushed myself all the time. I could have taken it easy and claimed I just did it to stay healthy.


I pushed it hard and trained with intensity because I loved doing it. I often tell stories of my younger days and how crazy I trained before powerlifting. I don’t do this to let people know how tough I am; I do it because I loved it and those are great memories for me. I tell those stories because I want to let lifters know I understand it, but that is the kind of thing we need to move past if our goal is strength. We need to realize there is much more to strength training than just hammering it out in the gym with all the intensity we have. Mastering the mundane is about doing the things that we don’t love but we know we need to do.

There are thousands or even tens of thousands of lifters in this world that are in the gym right now pushing the weights with intensity. They train that way consistently but they are not world-class lifters or strength athletes. If all it is about is intensity and training hard then there should be way more insanely strong athletes out there. It is the willingness to do the mundane that separates those top athletes from the hordes of others training away in the gym right now. The top athletes are on top because they are willing to do the stuff that is boring and tedious — the stuff that is so easy to make excuses not to do or the stuff that is easy to forget about. Lifting weights in the gym gets so much credit for people getting stronger, but there is so much more that comes into play when it comes to strength. I have been training for the majority of my life and have been one of the strongest lifters in the world. I can say with great certainty that lifting weights is only a portion of strength training as a whole. It is the interesting, exciting, and fun part of strength training.

Now, I don’t mind the meathead lifters, and in some respects, I feel like I understand them. Hell, like I said, there was a time I was a meathead lifter and I still have that in me. Maybe being a meathead is part of the natural progression, because most lifters I know started out just like me. All I really cared about was pushing myself in every training session. I loved testing myself and seeing how much I could take. The harder and crazier a program was, the more I wanted to try it. I read about training but I look back now and realize I had the wrong perspective. I loved stories about crazy intense training sessions. I expected programs to kick my ass all the time or I would change to ones that did. Strength training to me was lifting weights as hard as I could.


I even claimed I lifted to get stronger, but I wasn’t doing everything I could to actually get as strong as I could. I talked the talk but was not walking the walk. I let my meathead ego control my training. I thought I was a badass because of how hard I trained, but all I was really doing was the stuff I loved to do anyway. I get why lifters do these things but come on. Let's be honest about it. At some point, we need to move past this meathead mentality if we want to make the gains we are capable of. If you just want to go the gym to lift heavy, get some aggression out, or see how far you can push yourself, that is cool. If you are really training for strength then there is a whole world of mundane things that are just as important as lifting the weights.

I am reminded just how important the mundane is every time I open any form of social media or go to any commercial gym. I see videos of lifters doing the dumbest things that have tons of likes or comments cheering them on. It just makes me shake my head to see lifters getting lifts with absolutely horrible technique but, because they got the lift, everyone thinks it is awesome. I hear the lifting partners commenting on how awesome the lift was but rarely hear anyone critique the lift. They are allowing the lifter to continue to lift in ways that risk injury and keep them from meeting their full potential.

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I wonder if they even know what good technique is. I see lifters in the gym trying different lifts and when I ask them about why they are doing them, the best answer they come up with is that so-and-so posted it on social media. They have no idea why that person was doing it or what that lift is for. They don’t even know if they need to or should be doing that exercise. I see lifters following programs of top lifters when they have no idea why. They just do it because they like that lifter. They never stop to consider why that lifter trains the way they do or if they should actually be training like a lifter of that level. It is the new shiny sparkly part of strength training that most lifters seem to pay attention to. They want to see programs, new equipment, and new exercises. They are blind to the basic boring stuff that needs to be done in strength training. They want to do the stuff that seems fun or exciting to them.

There are some very amazing lifters and coaches in strength sports right now. Some of these people have done very well getting their names out there and making some decent money from their knowledge. It is funny to me, though, what other lifters choose to take from these people. Again, it seems to only be the fun shiny sparkly stuff. I will see a lifter in a gym wearing a shirt from one of these amazing lifters. I may even hear them talking about this amazing lifter, saying things about how great he or she is and that they watch all their videos. Then I see this person lift and I am completely baffled by what I see. They use very few, if any, of the principles that this amazing lifter they like so much teaches. In my head, I am thinking, “If you have such respect for this lifter then why wouldn’t you utilize this person's teaching and coaching?”


It is a very similar situation to seminars I have attended or even coached at. I will see lifters I remember from a seminar months afterward and they are doing almost nothing that was taught at the seminar. I think to myself that we were at the same seminar and taught that same stuff but they must have taken something completely different away from it. Did they decide they did not agree? Did they just not understand what was taught? Was it too much work to change? Did they just pick out the stuff they liked and throw out the rest? I just can’t seem to understand it. I will have similar experiences where someone will try telling me about a video they saw from so-and-so. They will try to explain it the way they understand it, but as it turns out I know the person. I know for a fact it was not meant to be done the way they are explaining it. Are lifters only looking for what they think will give them immediate gains? Do they only pay attention to the things they find exciting?

I am not some genetically gifted athlete, and to be honest, I should never have reached the level in powerlifting I did. I have and will continue to say and believe that if I could do it, so can just about anyone. In order to do that, though, you have to master the mundane. You have to be willing to do the boring stuff. You have to be willing to do the stuff you don’t really want to. I admit that sometimes I get frustrated at a commercial gym or just gyms without top-level athletes. It drives me nuts to see lifters putting in so much work but not making the gains they could be. When I do get to train with high-level athletes, I feel so at home and happy. Being at some of the UGSS events is like heaven to me. To hear athletes talking about technique and critiquing each other is music to my ears. To hear lifters talking about training from many different standpoints is like listening to angels sing. To hear athletes talking about why they have an injury and what they will be doing to not only fix it but to make sure it does not happen again makes my heart speed up. I absolutely love strength training, so it frustrates me to see so many lifters that are missing or ignoring huge parts of it. I want all lifters to feel successful in their lifting and I want them to feel what it is like to reach their goals whatever they are.

I get that lifting and pushing in the gym is fun. I am part meathead and always will be. I will also always do some dumb stuff in the gym because that meathead will at times get the better of me. But I got so strong and achieved so much because I evolved past that meathead mentality. We all need to evolve our knowledge of strength training and realize it is way more than just lifting weights with intensity. I really feel like there are actually more mundane aspects of strength training than there is exciting stuff like lifting. The thing is, hitting those PRs and putting up huge numbers makes you easily forget how mundane all those things were. If you are willing to do the mundane things like recovery, sleep, nutrition, mobility, technique, stretching, etc., it will be worth it.

Let's start looking at the mundane and understand just how important it is. Let's really dedicate ourselves to what's hard and reap the gains of that.