#174 Master the Craft

by Daniel Walter

What’s Your Craft?

For me, I believe that I’m in the elite category when it comes to programming.  The reason why Cole, Danny, and many others know me is because of programming and workouts.

Programming and workouts were all I read about.  I was constantly trying out new methods and techniques to see what worked best.  It’s all I did.  I did it for 30+ clients and my friends back in high school.  I still do it for my friends today.  It’s what I do with the #4amcrew.  It’s what I do for CoryG Fitness.  It’s what I did at MusclePharm.  It’s what I did at bodybuilding.com.  PROGRAMMING. 

The big question: "How can I become a master at this, or attempt to be?  How can I maintain a state of being constantly curious?

 

Total Immersion

Becoming a master in a subject requires total immersion.  What’s that mean

I came out of high school around 1997.  The internet wasn’t the abundant resource of information and knowledge it is today yet.  What was I reading?  Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Franco Columbu’s pamphlet series, and all the old muscle magazines.  That’s all I had access to at the time.

At this stage in my life, I was more drawn to bodybuilding than powerlifting.  So, at age 20 I decided I wanted to enter and train for my first bodybuilding show.  I dove in head-first.  I learned how to pose, how to eat, and how to train.  I was studying anything and everything I could get my hands on.

I had no clue what I was doing, but you know what?  I signed up for a fucking show.  I signed up for a show because I wanted to throw myself into the ring.  I went the night before to get my posing trunks… I didn’t even know what to wear.  I didn’t even know where to buy them.  I literally called the person that was running the show down on campus.  I showed up at his house, bought a pair of posing trunks, and then I go, "What do we even do tomorrow"?  I didn't even know what the mandatory poses were.  I didn't know how to do them.  He literally showed me the night before I'm going on stage what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'm in it, all day, every day, at all costs.  And what happened?  My clients are getting new workouts.  They’re getting new supersets.  They’re seeing the discipline I’m pushing out every day, and it’s starting to rub off on them.

 

Powerlifting

The same exact thing happened when I engulfed myself in the world of powerlifting.  Once I went down that rabbit hole, I discovered things like Westside Barbell.  I started to learn about how and why they trained.  I learned about the Conjugate Method.  Where did it come from?  How can I meet Louie Simmons?  How can I train with the lifters at Westside?  When can I sign up for a meet?  What’s the difference between raw and geared training?  Why are these guys utilizing max effort work?  Why are they utilizing dynamic work?  On and on it went.  Total immersion.

I was absorbing as much knowledge as I could handle.  Then, with that knowledge I was directly applying it to my training. 

That's how I ended up weighing 240 pounds.  That's how I ended up squatting 700 pounds at 198, multiple times.  That’s how I deepened my understanding to make myself a better programmer.  I committed to being a student in order to learn all the different methods so I could then apply and teach them to others.

At this point in my career, I’ve done multiple bodybuilding shows and multiple powerlifting meets.  I was starting to gain real momentum and traction in the world of programming.

 

Squat Every Day

What was next?  The concept of squatting every day.  Who was the best resource out there?  John Broz out in Las Vegas.  I studied under John, I flew to Vegas to learn from him, and I asked countless questions.  The result was my own version of the squatting every day protocol over a span of three years.

Guess what happened?  Exactly what I wanted.  I was developing a strong front squat, I was hitting elite squat numbers, and I was shaking hands with the bar every damn day.  I even ended up cleaning 300 pounds along the way because I was getting so much stronger.

 

Working With Icons

My total immersion strategy paid off even more when I had the opportunity to work with the Governator, the GOAT, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I was asking the man himself, questions about programming. 

The same thing happened with Louie Simmons.  The same thing happened with John Broz.  The same thing happened with Dr. Mauro di Pasquale.  The same thing happened with Dr. Eric Serrano.

I’ve learned an incredible amount from the best in their respective fields.  I’ve studied their methods.  I’ve experimented and refined their methods for myself.  I’ve taken pieces here and there and put my own spin on them.  I didn’t just read one article and call myself a “master of programming.”  It’s because I did it all.  I studied and experimented with everything at the highest degree.

 

Life-changing Results

Competing in powerlifting and learning and going to Westside Barbell made me a much better lifter.  They helped me to understand the methodology and the intensity needed. 

Being able to sit down with the best ever, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in person to ask him about techniques in programming has helped deepen my understanding. 

It’s the same with John Broz and the squat every day protocol.

 

Mastering a Craft

To truly Master a Craft takes every ounce of your being.  Total immersion, followed by practical application is the only way.  That’s how I believe you learn the best.

So, when I program something or try something new and it doesn’t work, that’s fine.  I just move on to the next thing.  Through trial and error, in-person learning, and curiosity, you inch your way closer to mastery. 

I can confidently say that no one is doing what we do in the #4amcrew.  There’s no one rotating bands on front squats four times a week, using the Conjugate and Bulgarian systems, and utilizing principles from the 1970’s bodybuilding era.

No one's doing that.  I'm in my own lane.  There's no traffic in this lane.  It's unique.  So, when people think or wonder what's the difference between me and some other guy that programs, that's the fucking difference.  

 

20 Years of Dedication

We’re not on a clipboard three sets of 12 trainer bullshit.  The workouts and trainers you see today are the result of 20 years of immersion and dedication.  It’s how I got to where I am today, and this is how I'll continue to progress.

This is what it takes if you want to be a leader in what you do.  I never wanted to be just a dude who does workouts in my town.  I wanted to be a leader in what I do, in my profession.

#MaxEffortMindset


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