“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

When folks hear the word “temperament” associated with strength and conditioning, they immediately think of qualities like tenacity, doggedness, want-to, desire, intensity, and the like.  And these qualities are important, no doubt.  Especially so if someone is leaning more toward the competitive side of things.  But these shouldn’t be the exhaustive list we need to consider when rolling through our Five Ts assessment.  Because the fact of the matter is, our overall style of training is (or ought to be) dictated by our underlying being, our nature; in other words, our temperament.

Charles Poliquin speaks of the five elements when assessing a client/athlete’s phiso-psychological make-up.  And within that vein, it is vitally important that I make a connection very early on with a client to learn what they need from me to help them achieve their goals.  Some need a rah-rah cheerleader, some need cold logic and facts.  Some need an in-your-face challenge and drill sergeant, while others need gentle coaxing and self-assurance through each baby step along the way.  And before we stereotype, let me just say that I’ve worked with plenty of athletes who were in the gentle coaxing/in need of self-assurance camp, and plenty of soccer mom’s who’d fire off a “is that all you got mutha f*ucker?” following a particularly tough session.  

Side note: I’d recommend anyone wanting to study the human condition get the hell out of school and train/coach or bartend.  There is no better education in psychology. 

And, too, a client’s wheelhouse training method needs to be in alignment with his particular “element“.  This type of element casting may sound very woo indeed, but I can tell you it plays out in every client I train.  By the way, personally I seem to be a mix of fire and earth…and my training methods and style reflect this mix.  This is part of the art of coaching that perplexes those who insist that every aspect of this game can be reduced to logic, science and numbers.  It can’t, because human beings are these damn bewilderingly complex entities.

Teaching by way of myth and analogy (shameless self promo, here) also get’s the woo-averse to nearly lose their lunch.  But the fact of the matter is, it works — for certain types.  I get a hell of a lot of good mileage out of  “Grok” and “Milo”, “metal” types be damned.  Of course, these “metal morons” are the same type who will gladly trade gym time for inane internet argument over “the best” lifting protocol, or hoover Twinkies while rounding-up evidence that Grok might have endured a handful of wild grain from time-to-time.  People who somehow can’t fathom the idea of staving off starvation vs optimal nutrition.

So yes, this health and fitness game of psychology…and, like life itself, it *is* a game of inches.  It’s about stringing together a series of small steps and daily wins.  And it’s the job of the trainer/coach to navigate that process effectively.

A little “Hollywood”, for sure, but I have been on the receiving end of some fantastic pre-game and halftime talks from masters of manipulating temperament and psychology.


In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.