Partisan greetings, Brothers! Thanks for checking back in for my posts on American Partisan Workout Fundamentals. Hopefully, some of you have already been able to employ some of the concepts I’ve covered in detail in these posts; it does seem like some readers are already digging in, and that’s awesome!
Below is a list of American Partisan Workout Fundamentals we’ve already covered:
Now, onto the important concept of workout discipline.
Foreword: Physical Fitness as Religion
These posts on American Partisan Workout Fundamentals have been mostly technical, so far. I wanted to get the procedure-related information out first to provide a broad understanding of the technical and “how to” elements that make for a good American Partisan Operator (APO) workout.
Moving forward, the remaining posts of the American Partisan Workout Fundamentals series will cover the more abstract, non-technical aspects of a good workout. As you may imagine or already know from experience, working out isn’t just about the physical exercise! No. There is, in fact, an entire set of mental, spiritual, and emotional “intangibles” to a good workout that must be considered as well, such that the serious American Partisan Operator can take the simple mechanical process of exercise, and turn it into a super-productive, total mind-body effort.
Put another way, physical exercise in the strictest sense is merely the process of moving the body or part of the body in some intentional and energetic form. But when you add a generous helping of mindfulness, spirit, and aggression… well, that’s when you turn a simple mechanical process into a true religious experience! It is the view of “physical fitness as religion” (mentioned in my very first post) that will power the APO through tough workouts to thrive and achieve great results in physical fitness, even under difficult, less-than-favorable circumstances.
When I first started working out at the age of 19, I was just a chubby kid that knew I needed to get my act together (especially after suffering brutal mockery by my brother, who himself had just started working out at the time as well – a bit before me) if I wanted to get with the ladies – a very important concern to me at that time! When my only goal was to lose some weight and look more toned, I went through the workout process as a chore that I performed reluctantly. Some while after getting into exercise, things improved dramatically for me as I achieved improved success in hooking up with girls (cutting my very long headbanger hair was another big help LOL); for a while, looking attractive to the ladies was my main motivator – great for motivation for a young man for sure, but not a religion yet. However, after a few years and several difficult life incidents that changed my whole worldview, my view of working out was thus transformed from a somewhat annoying chore into a sacred obligation. This notion of the “sacred duty of exercise” was further intensified after I became attuned to the SHTF/Prepper lifestyle and worldview, around the age of 33. Especially since then, I have viewed physical fitness altogether as a religious and sacred obligation, and I partake in physical training to this day with all the vigor and diligence that comes with intense religious devotion.
I only bring up the notion of the “sacred duty of physical fitness” to emphasize that, for best results, the American Partisan Operator really must attend to physical fitness (and any kind of capability-boosting training) with the greatest of gusto and devotion, and give it the same respectful and careful treatment as a religious Christian gives their relationship with God and Jesus Christ. Obviously, a man is free to choose his own level of seriousness and involvement in his physical fitness efforts, but my take on it is: treat physical fitness as religion, because physical fitness is a vital investment in yourself, your well-being, your battle readiness, and your longevity. And in the current climate, physical fitness will likely SAVE YOUR LIFE (and the life/lives of your teammates and family) not too long from now, so it pays to “get religious” with physical fitness, period.
That all being said, let’s get into the next Workout Fundamental of Workout Discipline!
AMERICAN PARTISAN WORKOUT FUNDAMENTALS, CONCEPT #8:
**** WORKOUT DISCIPLINE ****
Discipline as a Scarce Virtue
There’s that word, “discipline”. Discipline is a foundational behavior in pretty much any long, tedious, and/or difficult undertaking. In simple, non-dictionary terms, my own definition of discipline is: one’s ability to control themselves to effectively deal with hardship, inconvenience, and discomfort in order to obtain a desired outcome. In my 40+ years of life, I’ve (sadly) noted that discipline is a very rare trait in most people and, these days… just forget it. In today’s pleasure- and convenience-obsessed society, discipline as a virtue is all but dead, and it shows… in spades. Just look around you.
Another way to express the notion of discipline is “self-sacrifice” or “self-denial” in order to achieve something. For example, eating discipline is about not eating so that you can control your weight. Noise and light discipline while patrolling are meant to achieve stealth and accomplish your mission. Study discipline is about keeping your butt glued to the seat in order to pass a test. And so on. Each of the above examples of discipline involve an inconvenience, imposition, or discomfort of some sort in order to get something important done. Of course, you want to eat all the fun foods you like, but that doesn’t go so well over time, so you have to clam up and not eat at times. Of course, it’s a pain in the ass to patrol without noise or white light, but there’s a mission to accomplish and people may get killed if noise and light discipline are not practiced. And of course, if that test is important to pass, then no going to the bar or watching the big game for you! That promotion at work (or whatever) depends on passing the test. And so, discipline also represents an investment of sorts – foregoing what you want or like right now, so that you can thrive at a later time and get to a better point. You forego something because you really care about obtaining a certain outcome. That… is discipline, defined.
Unfortunately, when it comes to working out productively for the majority of people, you’ll be pretty hard-pressed to find anyone meeting any sort of rigorous standard of discipline. Even big, jacked dudes can often be spotted smokin’ and jokin’ with their buddies during a workout; talking with people (or even on the phone) during a workout is as typical as anything in a gym. Another very common type of undisciplined offense (yes, offense) is smart phone use during the workout. We’ve all seen it – the guy or girl who whips out the smart phone regularly between sets of whatever toy-ass exercise they’re doing (usually with poor form and pathetic loads that a small child could lift), and sending texts to their people / watching videos (for example, the YouTube “flavor of the week” workout by some scantly-clad model, or worse, a sitcom) / taking selfies or selfie videos / getting on social media to see who said what… as if any of that BS were important in the least! So the average level of workout discipline in most folks is abysmal.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loathe seeing people screwing off during a workout by chatting or playing with their smart phones in the gym. These undisciplined displays actually offend me in the same way that a regular and devoted churchgoer might be offended by witnessing horseplay or idle conversation during a church service. It begs the question, “Why are you even here? I’m trying to do something serious here, and you’re ruining my experience!” Of course, it’s too bad, so sad for me – I just have to get over it and tune it out, since I’m not about to get in anyone’s face at the gym for not having sufficient discipline for my tastes. It’s a free country, after all (or is it?). But you get the idea.
Now, there are select people out there that do possess natural discipline, but most people don’t; it’s just human nature. But the good news is that discipline, like courage, can be trained and developed to become firmly ingrained in the serious person. The critical thing is, a person seeking to improve their discipline needs to have the proper and serious orientation to something they find important and worthwhile, in order to make the necessary sacrifices that a show of discipline demands; to achieve discipline, a person needs to care. These days, most people seem to care only about maximizing pleasure and convenience while also minimizing discomfort and self-sacrifice, thus making discipline a rather scarce and dying virtue, as I said above. So of course, when it comes to a voluntary activity like hard physical exercise, a lack of discipline translates into a person either not working out at all or treating their workout like a clown if/when they even do any exercise at all!
But again, that’s other people. We’re American Partisans, and we do things differently! Therefore, the APO must approach physical fitness as a religion. Just like going to church on Sunday (or whatever other day), praying, and many other aspects of worship demand commitment and self-sacrifice, so should your engagement in physical fitness. Getting yourself and your family together and dressed up to go to church, sitting there for a few hours (even if it’s boring), keeping yourself and your family quiet and attentive, and then getting on with the rest of your day… can be supremely inconvenient, but at the same time, the Almighty deserves no less than your best output, behavior, and commitment, is that not so? So how is working out any different? It’s not. Your health and, for the dedicated APO, your fighting prowess, deserve no less than your very best output and commitment, end of story; the APO may well be called on (and not long from now, I might add) to go the physical distance and fight in defense of family, community, and team. This requires workout discipline.
Focus / Concentration is Exercise Gold
When it comes to a serious workout (and, for the APO, is there any other kind?), the most important element you can bring to the table is focus / concentration. Particularly where the work is demanding and/or the load is heavy, the trainee must absolutely have white-hot focus applied to all efforts. Focus on the work being done is what enables the trainee to summon the very best of their abilities into one unified effort for whatever work they are doing (not just physical), especially at the most difficult points; without good focus / concentration on the work at hand, the trainee is simply wasting their time, and will not achieve their best results.
Therefore, anything the trainee can do to maximize their focus / concentration is encouraged, and anything that distracts the trainee is to be minimized or avoided completely. It’s a simple idea, but it’s hard to make real. Maintaining focus throughout your workout depends completely on workout discipline, because let’s face it: there are 1,000,001 distractions to fight off at all times! Nevertheless, that is what the APO must do if they want to gain the most value for their efforts and precious time.
Achieving and maintaining focus is all about “getting in the zone”, and having nothing else on your mind but the business at hand of working out to prepare for battle. Focus is very fragile, and can easily be broken by the dumbest things, of which there is no shortage in gyms, or really anywhere. Regaining focus, once broken, doesn’t occur immediately either, so focus must not be not lost and is best supported via conscious, diligent, and continuous effort at maintaining workout discipline. The trainee must always strive for maximizing workout focus in whatever practical way!
That all being said, we’re ready to look at the “rules” (my rules, at least) of workout discipline.
Workout Discipline Rule #1: NO FUCKING AROUND During a Workout
Clearly, anyone still reading my posts at this point is a person with serious intentions that does indeed care about physical fitness, and wants to make the most of their physical shape through exercise. That right there is a great starting point; as they say, “where the mind goes, the body will follow”. So, for those men that do care and want to maximize their investment of blood, sweat, and tears in their physical health and fighting shape, achieving good workout discipline is as straightforward as can be. The first simple rule of workout discipline is: NO FUCKING AROUND during your workout!!! Working out is deadly serious business – the business of attending to your investment in health and fighting shape. Any distractions from this sacred work must be minimized or eliminated. Pretty simple. I hope my readers can pardon my harsh language for this serious matter (“NFADYW” will be used from here on out, to minimize use of the “F” word)!
Workout Discipline Rule #1 is critical to a good workout, because distractions of any kind have the overall effect of reducing your focus by taking your mind and spirit out of the moment and subtly but certainly softening up your fighting resolve, to a greater or lesser degree. The APO needs to get into his own mind, heart, and spirit each and every time he does exercise; distractions dampen this important resolve and force you to try to recapture “the zone” you were in – an effort which itself often doesn’t work so well or immediately. The net outcomes of distractions during a workout are reduced physical output, along with wasted time and energy.
Let’s explore the concept of workout discipline to deal with distractions, starting with smart phones.
NFADYW I: No Smart Phones
From the very moment you start your workout (whether at a gym, at home, or wherever) to the last, the smart phone needs to get put in “Do Not Disturb” mode so that texts and phone calls can’t interrupt your “holy” work. Better yet, just shut your smart phone off altogether if you don’t need it for some legitimate reason during your workout – ex., for music, noting workout results, or a VERY few other reasons. The ONLY reason you should need to handle your smart phone at all during a workout is for adjusting the music in some way or for whatever limited, yet justified reason that necessitates it. However, ANY type of entertainment function you might use the smart phone for otherwise is STRICTLY PROHIBITED!!! You wouldn’t dare entertain yourself with worldly nonsense in a church service; a workout is no different.
Entertainment (a form of distraction) and serious exercise are mutually exclusive activities – you’re working out in order to sweat and punish yourself productively into better shape, and so entertainment has no place in that mix. That means: no selfies; no checking Facebook or any other social fucking media; no phone calls (except urgent ones, obviously); no workout apps. Yes, that’s right: I’m old school and am entirely against workout apps of any kind – I consider these a distraction too. Are you really working out, or are you just getting caught up in the silly gimmicks (i.e., screwing around) of the latest n’ greatest workout app? Hardy men were getting ferociously strong and training to be effective fighters for uh… thousands of years before the smart phone was even an idea. Did the Vikings, Crusaders, or United States Marines in World War II need workout apps to fight and conquer? Hells no! So just ditch the damn workout apps and create your own way forward! You know enough at this point.
NFADYW II: No Idle Conversation
Idle conversation falls neatly into the “entertainment” / distraction category. There is truly NO need to talk during a workout, other than if you have a lifting partner, and you’re coordinating the workout effort somehow. Beware though, having a lifting partner, more often than not, is a 100% guaranteed form of getting distracted, even for a disciplined lifter. It’s just too easy for two red-blooded dudes to drift off into idle conversation about women, politics, tactical gear, cars, sports, or whatever other dude stuff guys like to talk about. For all but one of the few instances in which I lifted with a partner, the workout quality would invariably get reduced by idle conversation. The ONLY guy I ever worked out with that didn’t engage in idle chit-chat was an ex-convict who did hard time in maximum security lockup, and was a raging bull in the gym; he took lifting weights deadly seriously, and scolded me harshly for any attempts I made at conversation (even about the “p” word) that didn’t directly relate to our lifting weights. It was a good experience for me, because it showed me how productive a workout could be (even with two lifters working together) when silly chit-chat was removed from the mix, leaving us to focus on hardcore lifting.
Therefore, conversation of any sort is to be avoided as much as is reasonably possible; you usually can’t completely avoid it, though! These days, when I hit the weights at around 5:15 am, there is a dedicated crew of lifters in the morning whom I am cordial with, but that only occasionally talk to me briefly between my working sets; these weight pit bros already know that I’ll cut them off quickly because I stick ultra-strictly to my rest periods (more on this in a bit), and they are ok with that. They are also ok with my broody pacing around between sets and my rather unsocial behavior, because they know my style already. I am not rude, and I don’t act all high and mighty about it, but I am rigorous about keeping conversation to a minimum while going about the business of physical fitness; everyone around me knows that and respects my ways (even though they chat a lot of amongst themselves, but that’s not my business).
Finally, I need to say (with regret LOL) that even conversations with the ladies are prohibited. Talk about a distraction! Chatting with the chicks, even if it seems promising in some way, is not acceptable, and should be avoided. Find a better time to work your player skills – the business of working out is not to be toyed with, even for some choice piece of ass. Sorry.
NFADYW III: Miscellaneous Distractions
Smart phones and idle conversation are the worst offenses to proper workout discipline, by far. However, there are other potential distractions that may arise during your workout, and the serious American Partisan Operator needs to be prepared to avoid or deal with them:
Television shows – shut that damn thing off or just ignore it!
People around you doing weird or annoying things – tune it out
Malfunction of headphones or music device – bring backups to overcome these occasional inconveniences
Hot females – do your best not to break your concentration if one passes by; but hey, it happens.
Etc. – there are other potential distractions, and you need to exercise good workout discipline to stay the course!
Workout Discipline Rule #2: Strict Exercise Form
It seems obvious that a person should use strict exercise form in order to get the most results out of their exercise labors and to avoid potential injury. However, I continue to get surprised by how incredibly sloppy many people’s exercise form tends to be. In many cases, the person just doesn’t care enough to do the exercise well or properly because doing it strictly is more uncomfortable. Or, the trainee may even believe themselves to be using good form, but they are not, in actuality. For example, I’ve had a few occasions over the years in which, after filming myself doing a particular exercise (strictly to check my exercise form), I found my form to be lacking and so I made corrections. And, with corrected form, I’d always experience a reduction in weight lifted or the number of repetitions I could do of that exercise. No big deal – I just made a point of fixing the form and getting back to the same place, weight- or reps-wise, but this time with good form. The thing is, many people will still stick to poor form even after learning that their form is sloppy because, well, that’s how they’ve always done it, so whatever! Then, sometime down the line, these same people wonder why they get such piss-poor results.
Another driver of bad form – and this is the wort cause, I’d say – is ego. A trainee will shove through an exercise with loose form just so they can put lots of weight on the bar or get more reps. One particularly egregious example of loose form that grates my nerves is people who don’t go low enough during a Barbell Squat, and secondly, people that don’t do Pull-ups from a dead hang position. So a guy will load the bar up with lots of plates, and then do some pathetic half-squats, grunting and straining as if anything were really going on; he may even have his friends congratulate his wannabe Herculean efforts. Sorry, but that just won’t cut it – it’s still a half-squat. Worse yet, ego-driven bad exercise form with heavy loading can, and often does lead to injury; a sloppy lifter’s bad, cheating form often eventually runs out steam, and the heavy load does them in through an injury.
In short, workout discipline is absolutely essential to strict exercise form. A trainee must harness his workout discipline in order to get past the immediate, superficial need for the ego boost, the “easy way”, or the avoidance of discomfort. Strict exercise form is demanding, and requires the trainee to keep their composure and stick to the proper form despite the pain, discomfort, and difficulty of the effort. That’s the whole purpose of exercising at all, in fact! You are suffering constructively, and so using strict form assures that you are getting the best bang for your effort bucks. Being able to commit yourself to strict exercise form during the toughest, most strenuous repetitions or portions of your working set are what fetch the best results all day, every day. There are very select times where fudging form may be acceptable, but that’s rare and very specific. For the vast majority of exercise efforts, using strict form powered by workout discipline is non-negotiable if you’re serious about your “sweat investment”.
Workout Discipline Rule #3: Strict Rest Periods
It never ceases to amaze me how few people actually adhere to strict rest periods. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one! So maybe it’s just me, but I believe that rest periods must not ever be violated. My immediate concern with strict rest periods is that I don’t cool down between working sets. I like to stay super-warm and to sweat continuously in my workout; a warmed-up body is a more efficient operating machine, and so I’m trying to keep my machinery “lubed” and humming along for the whole workout. Another important reason for strict rest periods is that, even if someone should happen to come chat with me as a distraction (this will happen sooner or later), the level of focus loss from the distraction is minimized by my strict adherence to the rest period. I have no qualms cutting someone off (as politely as possible, of course) with “sorry to do this, but I have to get to my next set!” as the clock ticks away. I do experience some loss of focus – there’s no getting around that; but, at least it isn’t some ongoing affair that freezes my workout progress and makes me cool down by removing my body and spirit completely from the workout business at hand.
Yet another huge benefit of strict rest periods is that, by following strict rest periods, you are effectively training yourself to perform on command in “DO OR DIE” fashion. The “command”, in this case, is the alarm sounding at the end of the rest period. When it sounds off, it’s time to execute – no questions asked. Building the habit of going at the appointed time, regardless of your perceived state of readiness or how you may feel at that moment, is a good way to build discipline in executing tough or even scary tasks when they come your way. For example, in a possible real-life scenario, you may be scared as hell about charging that ambush to your front, but being no stranger to executing orders on command despite physical adversity and fear, you still do what you have to do – you’ve disciplined yourself through training to go into “DO OR DIE!!” mode. In this way, then, sticking with strict rest periods is also an excellent discipline builder of its own, I find.
Workout Discipline Rule #4: No Missing Workouts
Let’s recall: discipline is what makes the APO push past the immediately-occurring inconvenience and discomfort in order to get something greater done. When it comes to the inconvenience of working out, there are countless reasons why it may not be convenient or easy to fit in a workout on a particular day… jeez, where to even begin? Didn’t sleep well enough (a super-common issue for most productive adults, especially those with families); don’t feel great today; got into a fight with your woman the night before; incredibly busy day in front of you… the list is really endless as to reasons for not working out.
But hey, who gives a shit? Once again, it’s very, very simple: WORKOUTS ARE NOT TO BE MISSED, PERIOD! And really, I apply that rule to ALL forms of training; TRAINING IS LIFE. Clearly, there are a select few legitimate reasons why the APO might not be able to work out or train: incapacitating illness or condition of some kind; something urgent and legit comes up that prevents you from working out; or, a planned break from working out (this definitely has its place). There may be one or two other legitimate reasons, but that’s about all that comes to mind.
Not to beat a dead horse, but once again, engaging in physical (or any serious) training is a sacred obligation to the American Partisan Operator, and can never, ever be dismissed cheaply. There better be a DAMN good reason as to why you couldn’t make your workout. Injured? Then adapt and work those parts of your body that aren’t injured! Spat with your woman got you in a funk? Oh well. Get over it and get your ass in the gym. Tired? Tough shit. Many serious adult lifters and athletes that I’ve spoken to over the years have agreed that, well into adulthood, you’re lucky if you can go into a workout with a good night’s sleep even 50% of the time; usually, it’s a far lower percentage! So get out there despite being tired, do whatever you can do in that workout as a placeholder, and then make it better next time. NO MISSING WORKOUTS!!! Pretty basic.
Workout Discipline Rule #5: Push Past Your Fear and Go Get Some!
The last workout discipline rule is a pretty abstract and intangible rule, even relative to the other previous workout discipline rules (although I did lightly touch on the notion of overcoming fear and apprehension when detailing Workout Discipline Rule #3: Strict Rest Periods). Good workout discipline is an essential ingredient for the APO in order to deal with fear and apprehension that will invariably occur during the workout. A well- and properly-performed exercise is painful and carries with it a risk of failure and even injury, just like any serious physical effort. Most people avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, yet here we APO’s are deliberately subjecting ourselves to discomfort and the constructive pain of exercise, all so that we can step up to serve our people when the time comes. To be able to hit harsh conditioning and heavy weights for set after set, workout after workout, month after month, and year after year… is not for most. But, this is just business as usual for the American Partisan Operator.
By cultivating your workout discipline on all fronts, you’ll be regularly confronting the apprehensions and fear that come with rigorous physical engagement. On exercise days, in fact, I get so worked up about the rigor of the workout that I have sometimes as many as 3 or 4 bathroom visits for “#2” in the morning before I even hit the gym! I’ve spoken to other heavy lifters, and they feel the same (and experience the same phenomenon with doing “#2”) because they know that pain is coming, but they care a lot about success, and so it makes them anxious. This concern and apprehension is a normal and healthy thing, but it needs to be managed; if the work at hand doesn’t make you nervous, then you’re probably not working out hard enough!
Feeling fear or apprehension is fine and normal, as long as you don’t let it dominate you. Yeah, I’ll be all anxious and pacing around nervously before I hit a working set, but when that ol’ timer alarm goes off, I switch into “beast mode”, and go out and get some! A lot could be written just on this particular subject alone of conquering fear, but I’ll just say that it takes discipline to confront the fear of pain and failure, and if you deliberately confront your fear regularly, you’ll find it easier to do over time until it eventually becomes second nature. Again, it’s a very good and most worthy investment of your energy and effort to develop your workout discipline to push past fear and anxiousness, because victory awaits! One of my favorite sayings in Latin from the Roman period is “fortis Fortuna adiuvat”, which when translated means, “fortune favors the brave”. I even tell my personal training clients: “fake courage if you have to!”. That’s right – even pretending that you’re not scared or nervous as you’re about to execute a physically (or any) demanding task is a good starting point for what will later become true bravery in your heart, and an indomitable will to conquer that can be applied to other areas of life, without a doubt. How is this done? By just doing it! READY, GO!!!! No looking back – just act, NOW! That’s the way, so go get yours!
Anyway, this post was a bit lengthier than average, and I hope you’ll all forgive me for that. However, I wanted to take the proper time to delve into the abstract concept of workout discipline, in order to cover the waterfront of where and how workout discipline applies. We’re close to the end of this series on Workout Fundamentals, but there are still some other important considerations I’d like to share with everyone in the coming weeks.
Next up, we’ll get into other intangibles: the importance of and ways to maximize workout aggression, as well as a few other important intangibles afterwards. Thanks again for sticking with me! I look forward to your feedback.
Previous Post: American Partisan Workout Fundamentals, Part 4