Lateral Thinking

Parkinson’s Law and Physical Training


I’m enthralled with the concept of lateralization. It’s a great way to find a new perspective; a simple process of applying the lessons from one domain onto another. Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, is a master at lateral wisdom. His philosophy, “Chance favors the connected mind,” helps to explain that great ideas are cobbled together from smaller ideas, and often from unexpected associations, so long as there is an environment, physical or cultural, that allows for a sort of cross-pollination of meta-thinking. For example, how might an architect view personal development?

I’m somewhat of an amateur biohacker, but without the obsessive data collection. I run tests on myself, no not like lab work, but I’ll change the way I eat or train for 4-6 weeks at a time and measure changes. I study how everything I do and eat interacts to make my body function optimally, or effectively toward a health/fitness goal. I’d been struggling with what I thought was an arbitrary manner of organizing a workout around a specific number of sets and reps, usually regarding strength training. I wondered if it was self-limiting.

While this issue stewed in my brain I read articles about how the brain works, cognitive biases and behavioral patterns that led me to eponymous laws and Parkinson. Then it struck me. I wonder if the concepts behind work expanding to meet a larger framework explained how we limit our strength gains by functioning within preset limits, working only hard enough to meet the demands of the program and not as hard as we can.

I published my conclusions here with the help of the kind folks at


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