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Publisher's Letter John Balik Dominoes

Last week, when I was in Florida attending the NPC Nationals, I had a discussion with my son Justin about working out and the workout as part of a lifestyle. While we both train on a regular basis and consider it a part of our identities, we approach the workout with different goals and different definitions of success.

For me the key to success is doing it. He says, that’s okay, but if I don’t feel strong that day, I’d rather not work out than use lighter weights. For him success means moving forward in reps and/or weights. My workout is all about feel, the exhilaration of simply doing it.

My philosophy is this: Every workout is a good one, some are better than others, and every once in a while everything comes together in an experience that’s almost spiritual. He’s in college, with many demands on his time and a different schedule every day. He has yet to fully appreciate the domino effect and that it works in more than one direction.

The dominoes are neutral. The way you push them—your action or inaction—determines the direction in which they go. It’s up to you, and the force of the movement is really the accumulation of work done or work avoided. Sometimes the movement is very slow, but the action or inaction always comes to bear. I call it the no-such-thing-as-a-free-lunch rule. The result of the workout—the satisfaction—can only be earned. That’s one of its most magical aspects.

My point to Justin was that even a 15-minute squat and pull workout is valuable. Every workout goes into the “bank account,” and every “deposit,” no matter how small, builds the balance. He only wants to go to the bank when he has a big deposit.

When I miss a workout, I feel an opportunity lost forever; he thinks a “record” workout will make up for the one missed. I told him that in order to work out over a long period of time, you must first enjoy it and second create attainable goals that are flexible.

The second part of our conversation was about momentum. Adding energy through the workout causes the interest to compound just as it does in a bank account; energy not deposited cannot build on itself. Anyone who has worked out over a period of time understands that muscle growth and strength increases are not linear but in fact are caused by an accumulation of work. So-called sticking points may simply be times when the deposits are accumulating, before a withdrawal in growth and strength is possible.

I enjoy these conversations with my son because as I try to pass on my hard-earned “wisdom,” I find we both learn. IM

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