I want you to be really strong, so here’s my best advice – What do you need to grow a tall, mighty tree?
Many would start by saying, “Well, a seed or nut.” Perhaps you would add the need for water, time, protection, patience, and maybe more than a little luck. That’s all true, but we can get much more specific. We can explain exactly how you take something from a kernel to some towering structure.
In the case of the mighty tree there are four essential biological causes.
1. Material cause – The nut or seed, soil and minerals, water. An environment of abundance is ideal.
2. Moving cause – Sunlight. Every organism needs its trigger, and a pulsing energy supply to drive growth.
3. Formal cause – Inside that nut and all around the environment there’s an imperative. A field of influence. An ultimate aim. A long history where tall trees have fought hard to grow upward from humble nuts. That history is present and all around the moment the acorn falls. It drives growth towards that mighty tree shape.
4. Final cause – The ultimate aim of any organism is to develop an environmental niche, a competitive edge, and in the case of a tree, lot’s of nuts. The whole thing makes little different unless the lessons get passed on.
We don’t have to step too far out on this limb to see an obvious lesson. As humans – as athletes – we are always striving to become something more. We hope to accomplish enough, and adapt enough in this life to create an opportunity for our kids. That’s simple and worthwhile all on its own, but we also want to kick ass for ourselves. We want to get stronger because it’s a fundamentally empowering experience.
Not all trees are tall and mighty. The same goes for people. But, fortunately for us we can pick up heavy barbells. We can get taller and more mighty, eh? I believe that’s true.
It comes down to causes once again. If I had to name four, I would nominate these.
1. Material cause – A strong and mighty thing needs abundance on all fronts. You must eat the appropriate amount of food, which is to say, all that is necessary. There’s little room for restriction. We’d prefer abundance. Further, you have to know what minerals and nutrients you’re missing, or likely missing. Blood work is your friend in this case. You need far more sleep than you suppose. Create the abundance first and mighty strength will follow.
2. Moving cause – Plants are drawn upward by sunlight. You need a similar trigger, and a direction in which to grow. Training is initiated by some desire or calling. Maybe you want to drop 30 pounds, or put 100 on your back squat. Alright, so write it down, put a program in place, and then allow yourself to be pulled along. Open up and give yourself some time to grow. This shit takes time.
*Note: I hope you notice that programming is only once component here. We tend to be fascinated by a plan. It fires us up. It rev’s our engines. But this is a sugar rush at best. Real strength is earned through all four causes.
3. Formal cause – What are your conditions? You’ve got what you need. You have your plan, your gear, your supplements and food and all that shit. So, now what? …Nothing at all, unless you got some force or field driving your upward climb. If you want to be great, I recommend you go to where the great people live, learn, recreate, train, recover and choose to fuck off. There you will notice the conditions that give rise to extraordinary strength. If you don’t have that, your knowledge and gear counts will count for very little.
4. Final cause – You might get very far, growing into a barbell bending beast. But you’ll get tired of chasing records in time. And you’ll come to find out that people aren’t nearly as impressed with it as you think they are. But that’s not the case when it comes to teaching. I advise you to share all you can along your journey. Let this be at least a major secondary driving force of growth. It will make you a better lifter, it will create in you an appetite for teaching. That’s the most satisfying outcome. That’s something that people are super impressed by.
I want you to grow tall and mighty. But to do that, you need to think hard about all of your causes. I hope this helps you to get started.