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The IDEAL must be the OPTIMUM

In my talks with the ATC Athletes I often hear a litany of complaints about not being able to train properly due to life’s craziness. “If only I could workout x times a week”…”If only I would be able to always find time to cook and eat properly”… “if only I had better leverage in my arms”. We all know how life can run havoc on any plan we have nicely “ideally” outlined for the next weeks, months or years. There is no reason to throw in the towel though – and sit around waiting until the circumstances turn magically ideal. They won’t – believe me – life will continue to throw curveballs at you.

However - many athletes I worked with will do just that – quit / resign without trying to progress “against the odds”. I personally – at an age of 55 - have now been training for 38 years and never had any single period in my life in which my training regime was ideal – nor was my build the best for bodybuilding or powerlifting. Sounds weird ? Not really. I had a great time as a student (but low on money), busy engineering jobs – often abroad, travelling a lot, raised three kids (1 daughter and twin boys) with my wife Anke, moved countries, started a few businesses, had some injuries …

So how did I cope with fitting my bodybuilding, strongman, powerlifting, marathon running, soccer training into all this ? Each period in life (student, starting to work, young family, entrepreneur, aging.) has had its own set of challenges for me. My limitations in body-build have just helped me to become a good coach – due to all the required experimenting to progress “nevertheless”.

In the process I have learned the following:

If the optimal is not the ideal – the ideal must be the optimal.

What this means is that – assuming we are ambitious amateurs we have to “make do” with what we can and have to work with. Of course some things can and should be “optimized” where and if possible – but others will be just “facts of life”. Available time, money, training facilities, recovery, injury recovery, nutrition, illness, suitability for the sport… The question is therefore not “what can you not do” – but focus on “what you can do”. Adopt that positive mindset – accept the constraints – and work within them to “optimize” what you can do. This optimum is then the “ideal” for that period of time. Over the span of years and decades– the constraints will shift and you will need to adapt positively or negatively to those. To me it is very clear now that what worked well in one period in life, will not work in another period.


Assuming this deliberate mindset and having a good coaching relationship – you are assuring you are making the best out of the current situation – and will be able to keep up motivation for very long periods of time – to become the best version of yourself.

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