The Outcome or The Process?


The Outcome or The Process?

by Mark Rippetoe | February 20, 2024

“What should I be
squatting?” – or deadlifting, or pressing, or benching is a very
common concern among novice lifters. To an extent it’s a valid
concern, because everybody wants to know how they’re doing, and the
weight on the bar is the only valid way to judge strength training
progress. If you’re not lifting more weight, you’re not getting
stronger.

But
their question is always, “How much weight should I be squatting on
October 15, 2024?” And the only possible answer is, “You should
be squatting the weight that is generated by the process of going up
5 pounds a workout until October 15.” It is the process
that dictates the number,
not the number that dictates the process.

And
even that will not be exact, due to the nature of human existence. We
get sick, we have wrecks, we lose our jobs, our lovers stab us in the
ass, our gyms burn down, we get accused of Insurrection, our parents
die, aliens steal the atmosphere – things like that will always
interfere with the process. These things are beyond our control, and
only the most steely of heart can train under all adverse
circumstances. Most of us are not made of adamantium, there will be
holes in the process, and the outcome of the process is therefore not
perfectly predictable.

What
is certain is that you will be stronger than you are now if you are
in general control of the process. If you show up for 95% of your
workouts, if you incrementally increase the loads in a reasonable way
(“5 pounds” is a euphemism for a small manageable incremental
increase), and if you eat and sleep as physiologically necessary for
recovery, you can project a rough estimate of the numbers that should
be obtainable by October 15 – and it will probably be wrong, but
still in the ballpark.

But
really, what difference does it make? Unless you are a competitor in
a meet on October 15 who needs to do a qualifying total for a
subsequent competition, the number itself does not matter. The trend
of the numbers matters. If you have been stuck for 3 weeks, you are
not doing the program, and if the process is not followed it cannot
generate the numbers.

Properly
applied, the program
always works, every single time.

The process of stress/recovery/adaptation is built into your DNA –
in fact, that’s what DNA is for: adapting the organism to its
environment. If you subject an organism to a change in its
environment that is manageable and provide for the recovery from that
stress, adaptation occurs so that the organism does not succumb to
the stress.

Yes,
it is in fact that
fundamental
a process – damn near a physical law – and we are merely taking
advantage of it by carefully and correctly manipulating stress and
recovery to facilitate adaptation to the production of more force.
The very Stuff Of Life is at our disposal here, if we just learn how
to use it. Granted, there are variations in what the correct
application of these principles looks like, depending on age, size,
sex, access to rest and food, and the magnitude of the stress itself.
But, correctly applied, the process has the same outcome for
everybody, even though the numbers will vary.

Asking
me what you should be squatting on 10/15/24 is like asking me what
you’re going to have for lunch that day. I have a general idea, but
there may be a new restaurant open by then. The only thing we can say
for sure is that you should be squatting 5 pounds more than you
squatted on 10/13.


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