Have a Loose Structure

Categories: Blog, Press RESET, Pressing RESET, Training, Training Program, Movement Routine, Agile Dec 12, 2022

I used to be like Rain Man. 

Definitely. Definitely. 

I was very regimented, and I was obsessed with my regiment. Especially when it came to my training. I had routines, logs, plans, cycles, set and rep schemes, and so on. I showed up and trained according to my plan, which I did not deviate from. 

No matter what!

And sometimes, it hurt me. My body would be in pain, or it would try to warn me to make a course correction, and I wouldn’t listen to it because I had to follow my plan. So I would push on to carry out my plan and get injured and unable to carry out my future plans. I was rigid, and I would not bend. 

And oftentimes, this kept me from growing. By insisting that I follow my magic plans, I failed to listen, learn, and adapt. Even when I got injured, I refused to learn from the incident and instead looked for “work-a-rounds” to get back on my newly updated routine as soon as possible. Sadly, I often still find this habit hard to break. 

Anyway, by rigidly adhering to my plans, I failed to learn how to go with the flow of my body. The body has so much more wisdom than our mind’s plans, especially when it comes to all things involving movement and physical performance. By not acknowledging my body’s messages, I abused it instead of nurturing it. 

Thankfully, my body’s gentleness and forgiveness have weathered my mind's relentlessly rigid ways. And thankfully, I’ve started learning how to bend and learn from my body. As a result, I move better than I ever have, and I feel amazing a great deal of the time. 

I won’t lie. I still make training plans, but they are loosely held. I call it a “loose structure.” For example, Monday might be RESET and bodyweight day - That’s the plan. How it works itself out may be more up to my body than my mind. I’ve learned to let go of sets, reps, and schemes, and instead, I often move for blocks of time. I may roll unstructured for ten minutes. I may explore rocking and my body’s response to rocking for ten minutes. I love doing this as this is how I now learn to move in new and different ways. This is how I learn what my movement options are, and this is how I increase my movement options. 

Ok, to be very honest, I haven’t set aside all numbers. I still LOVE my Daily 21s, and that certainly is a number, but I’ve learned how to explore and listen inside of that number. And I may change out a movement for a new movement every single day. For example, instead of doing 21 Hindu Squats, I try to perform 21 different squats. Again, I’m exploring, listening, and learning. I’m trying to create more fluidity in my mind by exploring the fluidity of my body. 

And it is working. 

By being less rigid and exploring through my training sessions, I’m learning to move better and become freer in both my mind and body. And that feels good. It’s even allowed me to become curious about “traditional strength” movements that involve bars and weights. Now, for the first time in my life, I am able to try to learn from the movements instead of simply trying to complete the movements. 

And, because I’m not being rigidly led by my Rain Man alter ego, I am able to listen to my body and respect the loads it feels the best using. I’m not trying to lift any certain weight other than the weight that makes my body feel great. And, of course, that does indeed feel great. 

I’m sharing this because it’s very easy to get swept away by a plan, an idea, or a way of training. It’s easy to make our training approach like a religion. Plans feel comfortable. Knowing what sets and reps we are going to accomplish feels “safe.” But much more gold is to be found at the end of the self-exploration rainbow. By getting uncomfortable and just showing up to learn from our body and movements, we can gain more wisdom, physical literacy, and freedom in our lives. I’m not suggesting that we abandon sets and reps altogether; I’m mostly maybe suggesting that we lower them down on the Priority Pole, that we loosely hold on to our training plans, and that we approach training to learn something about ourselves. 

Add some loose structure to your training. Once or twice a week, train a movement or series of movements for time. Have no other purpose than to learn something or discover something about your body and about yourself. It can be well worth your time and it really can lead you to discover how good it feels to feel good. 


Comments (6)

  1. Brent:
    Dec 18, 2022 at 02:16 PM

    Tim, this hits home! I have always been rigid in my training to the point of negative returns. Example: "My back is barking, but today is my heavy DL day so I still need to DL". Or if I would miss something from the plan I would dwell on it and feel as though I didn't do enough. Since starting OS over a year ago, I have (Slowly) changed my ways. I still do training programs but I allow myself the freedom to explore as well. Putting things into 10 minute blocks has been a game changer for me. I can add/remove things based on circumstance. Thank you, sir!


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Dec 18, 2022 at 09:14 PM

      I’m so happy to hear OS and 10-minute blocks have been helpful to you! I’m still slowly changing my ways every day but I’m enjoying the journey.


  2. J-P:
    Dec 20, 2022 at 04:27 PM

    Thought I’d share with you that I’ve been doing the Daily 21s and various resets, including crawling, carrying, walking for about two years now. I’ve seen major improvements in my health and injury prevention.

    My biggest enemy is myself, I tend to want to over complicate things. I’ve slowly grasped the concept of going with the flow and just showing up. It doesn’t really matter what variations of movements you do so much as you do something. At least that’s what I figure. I usually end up doing more by exploring and feel good afterwards.

    Quick story, I went to my boys basketball game the other night and couldn’t find a good place to sit, got there a little late. So I stood next to the bleachers and watched the whole game standing. Now, there was a time I would be searching for a place to sit because my feet would start hurting, knees would feel sore, lower back screaming at me because of the prolonged standing. Didn’t feel any of that, felt great and stood tall the whole game.

    I thank you and Original Strength for that.

    Merry Christmas


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Dec 21, 2022 at 06:46 PM


      That’s WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am grateful!

      Have a Merry Christmas!


  3. Hunter:
    Jan 09, 2023 at 07:56 PM


    Love the philosophical side to your training. This is very much a Bruce Lee “be water” vibe and I dig it. As I read this I was thinking isn’t it funny how we view ourselves separate from our body. Like when we say “I am not listening to my body and I am abusing it in that way.” When our body and mind are one entity. Strange to think about. Another thing your post made me think about was, not being so loose that you become rigid in looseness like forsaking reps or sets.

    I’m in the military and on deployment last year my friend was off in the corner of the gym doing these weird body weight squats. Asked him about it and he introduced us to OS. By the end of deployment there were about 5 or 6 of us doing Hindu squats and push-ups every day! OS is rad. Thanks!!!!!


  4. Tim Anderson:
    Jan 09, 2023 at 11:35 PM

    There may be an art to having that loose structure. Being Loose and Rigid at the same time, yin and yang.

    I think it’s so cool that you found Hindu Squats and Pushups while on deployment! Those are movements that just keep giving.

    Thank you for serving, Hunter!


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