Strength training the ultimate supplement for entrepreneurs

There are many views on how you should live and prioritize your life as an entrepreneur. Some find the only way is to dedicate 25 hours of your day towards your company or goal. If you aren’t working all hours of the day, then maybe your competitors are and they are getting ahead. Eating, sleeping, being able to see the sky – useless – you lazy slob!

While this might work for some, primarily robots, computers and others who has the luxury of not being alive, it’s probably not the best way forward most of the time. There can be times where you need to do this because of tight deadlines and in those cases you should of course be willing to put in the work. But if it is your default state then I’ll try my skills as fortune teller and say that it won’t be for long.

One of the hard things with entrepreneurship is not getting recognition for your work. You can work your ass off for days on end without anything to show the outside world. Or perhaps you do have something to show the outside world, but getting traction can then be hit or miss. In other words your work/reward relationship is very non-linear. Over long periods of time this can be very frustrating. Getting acknowledgement for our work is a very basic and natural urge.

But as I have written before and will elaborate more on in the future you should not derive all your identity from one source. Meaning that if you get all your sense of identity from being an entrepreneur then your mood, sense of worth and general well-being is pretty much tied to the highly unpredictable rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship. You should of course be very proud of your accomplishments but if you are only “The entrepreneur” then you are very one-dimensional and may be more negatively impacted by adversity.

What you need is a way to spend your time that is more linear in terms of work/reward. You could of course always turn to drinking. Generally the more you drink the more drunk you get and the more days in a row you drink the more miserable you feel – all very linear. But perhaps an activity where the work/reward curve goes in the opposite direction will be more appropriate.

There are numerous way to go about this, but my personal recommendation would go towards strength training. You get to work with your body, you get to work with your mind, you get to work with your hands, you get to meet people who are not neck deep in the world of entrepreneurship.

Strength training is very linear in terms of work/reward. You can even put all your knowledge about 80/20 analysis etc. to good use both in terms of the training itself and nutrition. You’ll get a good break from whatever your endeavor is and may even find that during your workout you come up with solutions to problems you haven’t been able to solve or new business ideas.

A side effect of getting stronger and in better shape may even be more successful meetings as you standing more proud and erect before any person, will alter his or her perception of you. This may seem shallow but never underestimate the subtle cues of body language.

In other words the only real downside to strength training is really the time you need to allocate for it. And allocate it you should. Otherwise you’ll be very prone to postpone in the beginning and find ways in which working can be seen as more important. But 1-2 hours 2-3 times a week should be manageable for most – even the most prolific and busy entrepreneurs. It might be the best investment you’ll ever do.

Wave loading – a different rep-scheme for strength

If you’re a beginner just starting or started with strength training, then rep-schemes should be the least of your concerns. Stick to 5×5. Universally across most domains this just works best. Get good at the specific movements and get strong! Your progress will be way faster and way more unpredictable than any rep-scheme could predict. So just stick to 5×5 and keep adding weight. If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter this rep-scheme might be of interest to you. I’ll present the actual rep-scheme and some pointers as to where I see it as being most valuable and where it might not be the best solution.

Once you’re a few years into lifting you’ll probably get to a point when you are having a hard time getting any stronger in specific movements – your progress has somewhat stalled or plateaued. This is where training becomes interesting – this is somewhat the BMW-syndrome of the strength world – a lot of people get to this stage, but few people progress from here.

This is where some of the very complex training methodologies start to get into play. But advising you to use one of those would kind of speak against the title and aim of this blog. I am not hereby saying that you should stay clear of them, because they might be the best way to reach your goals – I just like to get as far as I can with simple approaches.

In the past I have had quite good progress with Wendler’s 5/3/1 – but ended up stagnating for overhead press and feeling burned out in deadlift – where the latter may very well be the explanation of the former. I tried modifying it and not going to failure in the last set as is prescribed, but this did not seem to solve all my problems. I then started looking for alternatives and went back into my nice big collection of rep-schemes and found wave-loading.

The basic principles are very simple; you advance in waves – hence the name and try to complete anywhere from 2 to 4 waves in a specific lift per training session. You start of with a 1RM weight or what I would recommend to be a 90-95% of 1RM. Then you go back 5kg or 10lbs depending on equipment(keep it simple). In this specific case it is kg and from my strict overhead press. 95kg is somewhere between 90-95% of my 1RM. Then following this scheme I would start my first wave with 3 reps of 75kg then 2 reps of 80kg and 1 rep of 85kg. Then I would start the next wave and go on.

Waves 90-95% of 1RM 95
3 rep 2 rep 1 rep
1. wave 75 80 85
2. wave 80 85 90
3. wave 85 90 95
4. wave 90 95 100

It should be rather easy for you to do make your own formula but here is a link to a spreadsheet with the formulas working – where if I have done it right you should be able to edit the 1RM figure. Google spreadsheet wave loading

The philosophy is that on any given day you should be able to complete 2 waves. Completing 3 is a good workout and completing 4 is an awesome workout! If you can complete 5 waves then you started with too little weight. Then when do you decide to stop – do you go to absolute failure? I would not recommend it. I would go with your “feel”. You usually have a pretty good idea whether or not you will be able to get the number of reps with the given weight – stop if you do not think you can complete it. This is designed to build strength so don’t overuse the failure part.

But the important part here is that you should be able to complete 2 waves on any given day. Completing 2 is acceptable! Don’t be mad at yourself for not completing 4 on each workout. You can’t be exceptionel in every workout.

I find this rep-scheme worth a try if you are a intermediate or advanced lifter that has plateaued on for instance strict overhead press or benchpress. Or intermediate lifter stagnated on squat or deadlift. I would not recommend it for advanced lifters in squat or deadlift as I see too big a risk of burning out. But have a go yourself and see – it is very simple to implement and try.