Tough week last week

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I’m always talking about investment in your health and strength as analogs to finance - heck, the gym is named Barbell Strategy after all!

Last week wasn’t the best week for the markets, it also wasn’t the best for those of you doing the powerlifting-ish program leading up to the TSC. I can’t explain what happened to the Dow last week, but I do know why last week’s training didn’t go so well.

This is our second cycle through the 5/3/1, and the weights are getting kind of heavy. I purposely didn’t put a rest week between the two cycles because I wanted to save it for the week before the TSC. So right now you’re over-extending a little bit. No wonder most people had trouble with their heavy triple front squats and bench presses on Thursday and Friday.

But remember this - a bad workout or two doesn’t mean you’re weaker, it’s just a reflection of being tired at the end of a week and the difficulty of this program. It’s just like panicking because the stock markets went south last week.

A point that Taleb made in Fooled by Randomness is that we pay attention to the noise much more than the signal. He notes:


A 15% return with a 10% volatility (or uncertainty) per annum translates into a 93% probability of success in any given year. But seen at a narrow time scale, this translates into a mere 50.02% probability of success over any given second as shown in the table. Over the very narrow time increment, the observation will reveal close to nothing. Yet the [investor’s] heart will not tell him that. Being emotional, he feels a pang with every loss, as it shows in red on his screen. He feels some pleasure when the performance is positive, but not in equivalent amount as the pain when the performance is negative

The moral of that story is to invest only for the long term. Buy your securities and walk away. Don’t watch the day-to-day prices. The same goes with strength training. If you’re following the program, eating well, and sleeping enough, you will get stronger. Day-to-day, or week-to-week variations are just that, variation. Don’t pay attention to them, the emotional asymmetry around negative thoughts will bring you down. I try to avoid that by having only a few times during the year that we actually test. Tests are just a snapshot in time, over-testing will emphasize the variations not the overall gains.

One more heavy week and the next week we coast into the TSC, ready to lift heavy.

Michael Deskevich