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The Sliver Strategy – Success in Fitness and Beyond

A Sliver?

The definition of ‘Sliver’ I am using here is: a small and narrow portion.  The idea arose in my natural tendency to call the smallest barbell plates in my gym, “slivers”.   They are 0.5kg (1.1lb) and you can see one of them in the photo above. 

What is The Sliver Strategy?

The Sliver Strategy is a simple plan that:

  1. Takes you from where you are now to where you want to be – towards a worthy goal.
  2. Is set up in progressive increments that are mere slivers (very small and seemingly insignificant up close).
  3. Is wise and sustainable over time.  

Rushing is Not Recommended

In my younger years, when I had a goal, I would rush to get to a destination as fast as possible.  This approach often wasn’t effective.  In fact, sometimes I would end up quitting en route to the goal. 

I injured my right shoulder in college when I was strength training to increase my speed as a competitive swimmer.  I was pushing the limits on dumbbell shoulder shrugs and wound up injured.  In order to keep the inflammation down, for an entire month I iced that shoulder daily and at practice was limited to swimming with one arm.  

Being Patient with the Process

I find that many people approach training, muscle gain and fat loss in an impatient way.  They want to attain a goal as quickly as possible, ideally within three to six months. 

When you think of your health goals, are you thinking in terms of three to six months to attain them?  Or are you thinking more long-term, like one to three years?

Depending on the audacity of your goal, where you are now in relation to it, and the effort and focus applied to it, three to six months can be utterly transformative.  I have seen it happen with many clients and it’s wonderful. 

Back to focusing on patience with the process.  One of our clients, who trains once per week for 60-minutes, went from deadlifting 8kg (18lbs) to 143kg (315lbs) over the course of a few years.  He is living The Sliver Strategy, although he has never heard the term before.  His reason for training is to upgrade his health.  In the process, he has come to enjoy deadlifting, and week by week, sliver by sliver, he has become a powerhouse. He weighs about 70kg (154lbs) soaking wet, which means he is deadlifting over double his bodyweight!  

Another one of our clients who focused on fat loss spent over a year getting stronger and more fit.  Her strength numbers kept increasing and I could see her legs and core getting really solid and muscular.   Once she achieved this level of strength and fitness, she felt more confident about herself.  With great gusto, she focused on attacking the fat-loss goal she discussed with me when she first decided to train with me a year prior. That goal was to drop 5kg (11lbs) of fat.  Within about 12 weeks, she had achieved her goal.  

The Sliver Strategy Applied to Strength Training

Since our focus is on health and fitness at Northstar Fitness, we naturally attract clients who share the same focus.  With clients who are terrified of lifting heavy weights, we progress them one tiny sliver at a time.  

I find that the exercises that can strike fear in good-hearted people are barbell exercises like Squats, Deadlifts, and Benchpress.   As the weight increases, the pressure on the joints can cause adrenaline to spike, which for some is exhilarating and for some is fear-inducing. 

By focus on improving one small sliver at a time, which is virtually undetectable at 1kg (2.2lbs), clients push, pull, and stand up to their fears.  They conquer their uncertainty and as a consequence get stronger, fitter, and more unstoppable. 

The Power of Slivers Over Time

Our Annual Training Plan is based on quarters.  There are actually 13 weeks to a quarter, so we focus our training, diet, and mindset goals with clients for 12 weeks at the end of the previous quarter and then work together on achieving their quarterly goals in the quarter ahead.  The 13th week is a week completely off of training, diet and mindset to reflect, let go and let the body and mind recover and relax.  

Suppose a client trains for 4 quarters and shows up every week.  That’s a total of 48 sessions a year.  That client wants to improve strength on Man’s Favorite Exercise…that’s right, The Bench Press:-)  Every week he comes in raring to go and he improves by 1kg.  In a year’s time, that is a 48kg improvement on the Bench Press.  This is possible.  

Over time, as one gets closer to their genetic muscular potential, the rate of improvement naturally slows down.  However, even if it’s an increase of 1kg every two sessions, that is still another 24kg of strength attained in a year’s time.  And it’s fun because it’s a weekly challenge that is clear and that is waiting for you to conquer it.  

How Can You Work The Sliver Strategy in Your Own Life?

I have given you some examples of strength training goals that use slivers, in the form of 0.5kg plates, as an incremental measure of progress.  I challenge you to think through and use ‘The Sliver Strategy’ in your own life to progress on goal that matters to you. 

Improving your health in slivers of healthy habits is completely in your hands. Perhaps it’s a fat loss goal that you want to master.  A sliver in this case could be 0.5kg (1.1lb) of fat loss per week.  If you are an avid reader, you can find the slivers of wisdom in each book or article you read and implement the best of them to improve your life. 

Love the Journey and do your best to be consistent, as consistency over time is where the mind-blowing results are waiting.  Good things usually take time to accomplish and need consistent effort to produce great results. 

You can do it.  First, decide what it is you want to achieve.  Then plan it and get to work.  We’re cheering for you!

Have the best day ever!