Muscle for life

The Real Battle We Have to Win to Get Into Shape

The Real Battle We Have to Win to Get Into Shape

Before you can build the body of your dreams, you need to learn how to defeat the only force that can really stop you.


“I’m going to really stick to this training program and diet and completely change my body!” thinks the wannabe athlete. “Oh man, I need to tweet about this before I forget.”

Twitter is loaded, 140 characters are carefully crafted, and the announcement is sent.

“I probably should write a quick blog post about it, too,” he or she thinks.

A few hours later, a few thousand words are posted, and a few minutes are spent basking.

“I can’t wait! I’m going to get so shredded. Wow. I should probably start looking how I’m going to revamp my wardrobe–”

“ENOUGH!” a voice booms.

The man snaps to attention.


The reply is only three words.






What is the Work, and What Isn’t

People share their health and fitness goals with me all the time. They have pretty spreadsheets, fancy workout plans, carefully cultivated motivation boards on Pinterest, and dreamy visions of turning heads at the beach and posing in underwear ads.

My reply is always the same.

“That sounds good. It looks like it’s time to do the work.”

This is usually followed by an awkward silence.

“Well…yeah…I’ve been reading a bit more to make sure I haven’t missed anything and I’ve picked up some really good tips. I also am meeting with a couple trainers to see if I want to get some professional help and I’m tweaking my one-year plan, which is looking really good. Here, let me show you–”

“No, I think you misunderstood me. It sounds like it’s time to do the real work. The hard work. The work that you don’t want to do.”

Another awkward silence.

They don’t get it. Or they don’t want to get it.

They aren’t doing the work, and they won’t succeed regardless of how busy they keep themselves with not doing it.

What’s going on? It’s simple. They’re getting whipped in the war against Resistance.

Resistance Hates the Work

Resistance is invisible, insidious, and impersonal.

It can’t be seen, but it’s in you right now, and it can be felt.

It will tell you anything to keep you from doing the work. It will lie, argue, bluster, seduce, and bully you to get its way.

It will say anything to strike a deal and then stab you in the back.

It doesn’t care who you are or what you want to do. It has no conscience.

What kinds of things does Resistance hate most?

Any creative artistic action. Any type of entrepreneurial venture. Any new diet or fitness regimen. Any method of spiritual advancement. Any type of education. Anything courageous.

In short, anything that requires us to forego immediate gratification in search of long-term growth or fulfillment.

Resistance hates doing the work, and it wants you to be just like him.

The Achilles Heel of Resistance

In his brilliant book, The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield reveals that Resistance’s Achilles’ heel lies in the fact that it will only fight that which is truly important in your life. It wants to kill your deepest purposes and desires, your true calling and gifts. Yes, kill them. In this way, however, it shows you what work you must do—your very personal path to profound fulfillment, happiness, and success. Resistance dares you to meet it in pitched battle.

When you do anything but the work, it sneers at you. It’s playing you like a marionette. You’re feeding it, making it stronger.

When you do the work, it shrieks in horror. “Anything but the work!” it cries.

It invades your mind and flashes shiny distractions. Television! Movies! Friends! ANYTHING BUT THE WORK!

Make no mistake. The fight against Resistance is a war to the death.

It will tell you you’re too weak to kill it. Too stupid. Too lazy.

But you’re not. Ironically, it depends on your obedience for its strength.

Defiantly do the work instead and it withers. Every bit of work done strikes at it.

Do enough work and its armor crumbles, its power fades, and all that’s left is a whispering ghost.

Do more work and it even stops whispering.

Creating Anything Meaningful is War

If you’re trying to create a healthy, strong, vital body, a business, a career, a relationship, or anything else in your life, you’re a warrior.

Your primary enemy is Resistance.

Fight the battle anew every day by doing the work, and who knows what you might achieve and how you might evolve.

What helps you get into the gym every day and do the work? How are you beating Resistance? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like what I have to say, sign up for my free newsletter and every week I'll send you awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious "diet-friendly" recipes, motivational musings, and more.


If you want a "paint-by-numbers," step-by-step blueprint for building a muscular, lean, strong body...faster than you ever thought possible...then you want to check out my bestselling books.

Here's a little sneak peek of what you'll learn inside...

  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy with ease…eating foods you love (yes, including those deemed “unclean” by certain “gurus”)…and never feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”
  • The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, disappointed, and confused. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • An all-in-one training system that delivers MAXIMUM results for your efforts…spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym every week…doing workouts that energize you, not wipe you out.
  • A no-BS guide to supplements that will save you hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars each year that you would’ve wasted on products that are nothing more than bunk science and marketing hype.
  • And a whole lot more!

The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

My book will show you how. Get it today and let’s build a body you can be proud of.

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

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Leave a Comment!
  • Lucas

    Work out first thing in the morning. It’s hard to come up with excuses or something better to do at 5 AM.

    On Friday, January 13th of this year I decided to take my life back. I started eating better and working out on Monday, January 16th. I’ve read books and learned a lot along the way, but I started doing “the work” on January 16th. My goal at that time was to lose 35 lbs by the end of the year. Instead, I have lost 73 lbs (down to 205), 10 inches from my waist (down to 33 in), and feel better than I can ever remember.

    This whole thing is a process–what works for you? What doesn’t? Where can I improve? But it is as simple as Mike points out. Without starting “the work,” the rest doesn’t matter.

    • I totally agree Lucas! I hit the gym at about 7:15 each morning and love it.

      Wow, VERY WELL DONE on your transformation! That’s amazing! We can all take a page from your book.

      Keep up the good WORK and train hard!


    • Stuart Mullins

      I am with you, Lucas. Hit the gym by 5:30 – easy access to the racks and no excuses. Congrats on the weight loss!

  • Juanfra Valero

    Very good comments about the Resistance. And it applies to everything that you do. I don’t have much of a problem with the exercises, but I had a great problem back when I was in college and I had to study a lot for the exams?. How did I overcome it?. I didn’t, I switched careers to something easier.

    • Thanks Juanfra! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Cool on your career switch! How did it go?


      • Juanfra Valero

        It went fine. I changed IT to English teacher, and I’ve been working non-stop since I finished college.

  • Jody H

    Love this article Mike, think I’m going to print it out for motivation!

    So true, it all comes down to THE WORK. Without that, there’s nothing. All the spreadsheets, worksheets and motivational quotes accomplish NADDA unless you DO THE WORK.

    Thanks, I needed that little kick in the rear.

    Also, ordered TSC the first day it was available in paperback form.. should be here any day!! Can’t wait to delve in!

    Like your style.


    • Thanks a lot, Jody! I’m really glad you enjoyed the article.

      You’re totally right–everything else is only so valuable as it helps you do the work.

      Thanks for reading my books! Write me any time if you have any questions.


  • Chris

    Yeah, for me it’s the thougt of dying of heart failure in my 40s and leaving my kids alone. I have 2 friends, 37 and 41 who both heard death. He first actually had a mild heart attack, lived and has a stent. The other had 4 blockages 2 of them at 90% which were found during a nuclear stress test.

    I wake up at 5am to work out and summon this image when I don’t feel like going or if I want to shove ice cream down my gullet.

    My son and daughter alone crying in their rooms missing their dad because he could not get himself to the gym to stay healthy.

    I am following a strength training program and doing cardio (HIIT) on off days. Went from 190 to 165 cholesterol from 200 QITH meds to 140 (still with meds) bp from 130/80 to 110/60.

    • Wow, I’m sorry to hear that about your friends. That sucks.

      Rock on with your early workouts, and very well done on your progress so far! My son will be born next month so I’m beginning to understand the whole fatherly drive. 🙂

      Keep it up and email me any time if you have any questions!


  • Stuart Mullins

    You hit on this in Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, and it is true for me – setting goals.

    After I have achieved a certain level of fitness, I could probably get by with just making daily trips to the gym for a nice “feel good” workout. But that’s when I start to get complacent – miss a workout or two, stop being so strict with my diet. Next thing I know, I haven’t been to the gym in two months and every meal is a “cheat” meal.

    By setting achievable goals for myself, I stay motivated to do the work.

    • I have totally experienced that, Stuart. Years ago, I was in decent shape I guess, but was totally stuck in a rut. I was going through the motions each day, but wasn’t driven anymore.

      Once I changed that and really decided to strive for the next level, I felt the same enthusiasm as when I started, and I’ve made more gains in the last three years than I did in the first six.

      Keep up the good work!


  • Marlon Small

    Fascinating article and book, “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” which I’ve read through just today. I’ve just started exercising the BLS way which is totally different compared to other publications in terms of the warm up then the heavy sets which is a totally new concept to me so thanks! I’ll be testing it out with much interest.
    Despite such a refreshing take on diet and exercise, what struck me so much about this blog was its reference to “The Work” and “The Resistance”.
    These topics are covered “Linchpin” by Seth Godin, albeit from a creativity/activity point of view. It’s a very good point all the same, less talk, more do…I’ll be putting that into practice over the coming days, weeks and months. Thanks! Marlon

    • Thanks Marlon! Ah I didn’t even know Godin talks about the concept of work vs resistance. I read about it in some random free eBook on Amazon and liked it, so I modified it to fit the health and fitness world. 🙂

      I’m really glad you’ve already started the program. It’s definitely quite different than what the mags and such tell you to do.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress!


      • That may be Steven Pressfield’s “Do the Work” published last year by Godin’s Domino Project. It’s available as an ebook (and it’s great!) Pressfield’s decade-old “The War of Art” is also strong and focuses largely on fighting through the creative process and getting past the resistance. Yet, clearly, it’s applicable to so many other things as well.

        • Hey Lee,

          Ah I’ve heard of Pressfield but didn’t know about his work. I’m going to check out his books, thanks for the tip!


  • Gayle

    FANTASTIC ARTICLE. you had me mesmerised. Seriously thanks for that. And your books. Simple things we all miss and put so very cleverly clear. Top man! Thanks

  • jakot05

    Great post!
    PS: Resistance is a bitch

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked it!

      Yeah it is. The trick is to make it your bitch. 🙂

  • Rob

    Great post – came right when I needed it!
    I’ve recently relocated my gym and I am suffering from overload brought about by multiple loose ends. Your post hit the nail on the head!

    Once I’ve finished being distracted by responding I will get active…

    Perhaps just a few more lines and a flick through a few more posts… 🙂

    • Awesome, thanks for sharing Rob! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Haha deal!

      BTW, shoot me an email anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties on the program.

  • Chrissie Reynolds

    Just what I needed! Thanks again!

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  • Johney

    Very Very Helpful Mike. I’m feeling a Positive Energy by just reading it. Thanks Very Much for this Post.

  • Rory

    Thanks for the tips re S.P. just bought one of his books on Amazon. Should have it in time for my birthday 🙂

    I overcome resistance by 1, having a fixed time to go to the gym. 2, Getting started with something easy that leads naturally into the hard stuff. Trying to the think back to the moment I gave in to resistance, remembering what the thoughts/images in my head were and being vigilant against those thoughts or creating a counter image. And finally, keeping my awareness high that resistance is sneaky.

    • Nice, I hope you enjoy the book! Which did you get? War of Art?

      Great ways to overcome resistance! I like it!

  • DJ Llama

    I used to be the guy you mentioned above. Now I’m actually doing the work. I bought the book two months ago but was injured before I could start the program. Now I started the new year with a clean slate and I’m motivated. During my recovery time I read everything I could and started cooking clean food. I just finished week one and got home to read this post. Needless to say, thank you for keeping me on track!

    • Awesome, great job on starting the program and keep it up! Let me know how it goes!

  • Moana

    Um… I was about to buy your book, but now I’m questioning your integrity, as you’ve clearly ripped massive passages out of Steven Pressfield’s book ‘Do the Work’, and yet are palming it off as your own. I was happy to see Steven’s work in your article, but when you failed to credit it him at the end of it….. – disappointing to say the least. And Heck! Don’t even try to deny it… its embarrassing that you pretend not to know

    • Hey Moana,

      I now know the concept came from PF but when I first wrote this, I had come across it in a free eBook I downloaded from Amazon that wasn’t by PF.

      I actually meant to update this post to give credit to PF but forgot, so you’ve reminded me. I’m going to get to it later today or tomorrow.

      Sorry to offend!


      • Moana

        Thats okay, not a big deal now that you explain it as such. Looking at what I wrote my tone was harsh – for this I apologise, and I’m sorry. Just when Lee Zamastil pointed out it was Pressfield, that to me was your opportunity to give credit somewhere, and acknowledge that you had borrowed it from wherever you had found it. Anyway, thank you for clarifying and sorry for the misunderstanding. You are clearly not the plagiarist I mistook you for. Kind Regards, Moana

        • Hey Moana,

          No worries! I actually did talk about PF in one of these threads but I really just need to update the post, which I will be doing today.

          Anyway thanks again for writing and I hope you enjoy my other writings. 🙂


  • Bill

    I have sent for the book (really 2 of them) BLS and TLS one for me and one for my wife. I did this for I think women and men train different? Is this logical to think this way? I also am a firm believer that it 80% nutrition and 20% gym, is this correct? I have many question and I take supplements now also but I not sure were we should start reading the book thru and doing the work or just jump in and work? and how to work it if this is the case? I have lifted back in the day (when I was in my Twenties, but now I am turning 60 and was looking to get close to competition level not to compete but to look Great and more important feel GREAT…Any suggestion?

    • Hey Bill,

      Thanks for ordering my books!

      Yeah, the workouts are a little different for women, but more similar than different. That’s one of the myths out there: that women should train very differently than men.

      The main benefit of your wife reading TLS is she’ll have a complete understanding of how to eat and train to achieve the body she wants. It makes all the difference, as opposed to just doing what a trainer says and wondering why you’re not losing weight or building muscle, etc.

      Yup, nutrition is a HUGE part of improving your body. Training properly is vitally important too, because you can eat well and train incorrectly and get nowhere.

      I think BLS will answer many of your questions, including what to do with supplements (less is more here–no need to waste a bunch of money on supplements).

      That’s great that you have lifting experience. I’ve
      emailed with hundreds of guys in their 50s and 60s and many were
      surprised at how well they could do the program as laid out in the book.
      We did make a few tweaks, however:

      No heavy deadlifting or squatting unless the person was an experienced
      weightlifter. If you have any lower back issues, don’t deadlift at all
      unless instructed to do so by a PT. If you have any knee issues, no
      squatting unless instructed to do so by a PT. If you have no such
      issues, start your deadlifting and squatting in the 8 – 10 rep range and
      stay there until the exercises feel very comfortable. You can then move
      into 6 – 8 rep range and work with that until it feels completely
      stable and comfortable. You can then move into the 4 – 6 rep range, but
      it’s not mandatory. You have to see how your body feels.

      No heavy bench pressing or military pressing if you have shoulder
      issues. If you don’t have any, start these exercises in the 6 – 8 rep
      range and work there until they feel very comfortable and stable. You
      can then move into the 4 – 6 rep range.

      That’s it. Some guys had very particular circumstances that required further tweaks, but that was it for most.

      needs to be changed on the diet. The metabolism doesn’t slow down due
      to age nearly as much as most people think. My metabolism is, at best,
      only a few hundred calories per day more efficient than yours.

      I hope this helps and let me know what you think of the book once you’ve gone through it!


  • I just ordered “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger”. I have been on a plateau for about 8 months. I work out 5 days a week. I hope it gives the guidance I need. I have the will but I need more information. I was 90 pounds down after 2 years and I have regained 20 in the last several months. I need a fresh start. The reviews on this book look great. I am excited to read it.

    • Hey,

      Thanks for picking up BLS! That’s great you work out 5 days per week, and we can definitely break your plateau.

      Great job on your progress so far. Wow! That rocks.

      Definitely let me know what you think of the book!

      Talk soon,


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  • Bill Trudell

    Perhaps a different perspective…the enemy is our addiction to comfort and our fear of change. Eventually a healthy and fit lifestyle will be more comfortable, but in the meantime, hard work can be unpleasant until a person changes how they think of it.

    • Michael Matthews

      I totally agree. “Soft lands make soft people.”

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  • Never2old

    Lesson learned, Mike. I have been reading, making charts, planning menus, and even visited the gym to checkout the equipment. After reading this blog, I got off of my butt and went for my first-ever-in-my-life lifting! It is hard to type this because my arms are so shaky (so are my legs, for that matter) after 40 minutes of getting acquainted with the lifts and coming face-to-face with what a mess my body is

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome, great job! I’m so excited for you! Shoot me an email anytime if you run into any issues. I’m happy to help!

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  • Aidan Cook

    I have the nike logo and their slogan ‘just do it’ as my phone screen saver so in constantly reminded to just do it!

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice 🙂

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  • For me it’s about the constant battle in my mind telling me “you’re tired, just do 10 minutes today” and I tell myself that I’m not tired I’m just trying to talk myself back into my old habits. I just started the gym this week with three days strength training and four days of HIIT cardio. On my strength training days I hit the weights in the morning before work and do my HIIT at night after work. So far I feel sore and beat up but I know that’s a good feeling. I’m looking to make this the best year of my life. Thanks for your books all GREAT reads and I really feel a connection with you when I read through them. Keep it up man I aspire to be like you one day and help people!

    • Michael Matthews

      I can relate to that and that’s great you’re rocking and rolling. Thanks for the support and let me know how everything goes!

      • My Pleasure man! I just downloaded and started reading BSL and am looking forward to putting aside the excuses and start putting in the “work” it’s because of people like you that give all of us hope and the guidance we need!! Keep it up and I look forward to working with you over the next year to help me transform!!


        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks brother! Let me know how you like the book and how it goes!

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  • Henry

    I needed to come back to this today, starting a new year with new goals and I can feel resistance gearing up to shoot them down. But there’s solace in the simple and powerful, if difficult, solution. Time to go to work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Henry. Let me know how it goes!

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Lauren

    Thanks so much for all the info. The breakdowns in seducing compound exercises answered a lot of questions for me. I just got back into the gym after a road trip with my best friend with renewed motivation. He showed me how BCCA can help prevent muscle canibalization and speed recovery. This was a big deal to me because I’ve over trained in the past and that had me afraid until my friend helped me out. I’m curious if you’ll have caffeine free products. I can’t have much caffeine because it speeds my matabolism so much that my blood sugar drops to suddenly and it puts me at risk for my heart condition (tachycardia) to act up in a workout. I feel that I really need help with diet (especially protien intake) and my investment in trainers hasn’t seemed to help me much. My goals are to make my mid section a bit leaner, tone the glutes, and make my arms less noodley. Lol I’m getting you book after I type this. I’ll take your advice to heart if you have any. Thanks a million- Lauren Hand

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