The Conjugate System of Learning


I love learning.

I love new facts, insights, and revelations.

I love learning so much that more than anything else I love learning about learning. Yes, I am such a nerd that I study studying.

So with that in mind, I’ve found that one of the best ways to help new things “sink in” is to observe parallels between ideas that you already have a grasp of and the new information you’re trying to assimilate. Now, there’s always a risk of mis-framing your new info when you do this, but in general it works well for most concepts.

This is something I’ve been doing for goodness knows how long, but I never really examined it until I had a brief conversation with my buddy Rob Pilgar about a popular certification. Rob is a fellow student of life, voracious reader, and thinker who’s very comfortably giving his opinion. As such he makes a great sounding board. That, and if you want to learn how to throw hands, he’s definitely your guy.

I realized that my learning process and one of the main components of my training process are almost exactly the same. You see, Rob and I are pretty familiar with the conjugate style of training. The most popular version of the conjugate system in the United States has been made popular by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. Actually, the way many people practice “Westside” is more of a concurrent system and looks little like what happens at Westside (as I’ve been told, I’ve never trained there… yet), but that’s splitting hairs.

Cutting through the bullshit, the primary overarching objective of the conjugate system is to find a weak point in your training, emphasize it, and turn it into a strong point while your other training components improve at a slower rate. This weak point will vary depending on the individual and might be something to the effect of overall speed, upper back strength, or whatever. Whatever the quality, it gets priority treatment. Eventually this former weak point becomes a strong point and at that point you underemphasize it while focusing on another (what is now) weak area. In this process you continue to leap frog yourself to greater and stronger heights.

In talking with Rob about this certification (which I will attend in the next year) I realized that my learning process is basically the same way. You see, I’ve been reading and watching training videos pretty hard for the last couple of months and scheduled a couple of great training seminars to attend. This is in stark contrast to a few years ago where I’d greatly slowed down attending training seminars and focusing on new training information. While I was under no illusions that I knew all there was to know about training, I knew a lot. Way more than most of the field. More importantly, I noticed that my returns were diminishing. I was having a hard time finding new insights in my learning, especially relative to the effort put in.

So I stepped back, looked at my personal development, and realized that I was pretty one-dimensional. I had great training knowledge, but I wasn’t a great business man and I seemed to be missing something when it came to working with some types of clients.

After facing this reality I put training info on the back burner and dove into the study of business, marketing, and psychology. Over the past couple of years my business, personal development, and success with clients has ascended to a new level as a result of insights garnered from these topics. During that time I practiced my training information and put some of the education to use.

Now, I find myself busy practicing business and development of my clients at a much higher level. With these more advanced skills I’m looking back into training education with fresh eyes. There are new sources of training information available to me that were probably inaccessible at my stage of development before. It’s totally awesome. I’m confident that this process will continue. On to make the next weak point a strong one.

It’s Make It Happen Monday. Are you furthering your development by making your weak points strong, or are you sitting in your comfort zone and going nowhere?

Take yourself to the next level. Sign up on the right!

Comments on The Conjugate System of Learning Leave a Comment

August 26, 2013

Matt @ 6:40 pm #

Life is a lifelong learning process. If you’re aware of that fact, you’re doing a good job. You’re also doing better than most seeing as how the majority of people don’t really read another book after high school.

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.