Training Is Like Farming

I'm not going nuts and neither is Mike Boyle! Mike, author of Advances in Functional Training and Functional Strength Coach 3 recently sent me this article and he has kindly agreed for me to post it here. If you are a regular reader of the blog then you will know that I'm big on making sure you get the basics right first before you start doing anything fancy. The key to success is consistency of approach over time - beware of quick fixes and instant results - they don't tend to last! Mike's post fits nicely with my way of thinking so take a look and let me know what you think. 

Over to you Mike. 


I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what I believe he called 'the law of the farm.' The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can't be forced or rushed. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result. 

As a strength and conditioning coach, business owner and personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming. 

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertiliser (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertiliser in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing. 

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, 'Have you lost weight'? Your reaction might be, 'It's about time someone noticed.' Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently. 

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting. 

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertiliser and water, diet and exercise go together. 

Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients. 

The law of the farm 

Plant the seeds

Feed and water properly 

Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months. 


If you like this post then check out Mike's new book Advances in Functional Training, his excellent website www.strengthcoach.com, and the fantastic DVD series Functional Strength Coach 3 


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