Autoregulators, roll out!

  • Focus: How you get into flow — a survey
  • Fatherhood: Have simple rules
  • Fitness: How to use autoregulation to boost long-term progress
  • What I’m reading, a quote, a dad joke

This is all an experiment

Dad Strength is something that began by making the decision to build things for the kind of community I want to be a part of. Dads who want to be present for their families, who prioritize health, and who are driven by meaning. So, a couple of years ago, I put up a beacon. It began as a podcast, grew into weekly calls for dads, and — about six months ago — grew again into this weekly email. I build only for the folks in our community AKA you. So, your feedback is always welcome. Especially since I’m monkeying with the format — including the addition of a “closed-circle insight survey” on focus. More below. Let’s get into it.

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Focus: How you get into flow

A closed-circle insight survey

We’ve got some smart folks on this list. So, today, I’m sharing a survey on focus. How do you get into deep focus — and stay there? I’ll be sharing a document with the answers — exclusively with those who fill it out.


Fatherhood: Simple rules

This past Tuesday, I asked the dads on our call to share simple rules for health and parenting. As someone who has been working in the health and fitness space for 20 years, I can tell you that complexity kills. Always/Never Rules are easier to follow than nuanced, context-dependant ones that require mental gymnastics.

A few examples from our dads:

  • “I never eat desert.”
  • “When I’m trying to figure out when to run, I always choose the soonest option.”
  • “If my partner or I say, ‘I need to take a walk,’ the other person will automatically step to take care of anything at home.”


How to talk to your kids (and yourself) about navigating media, peer pressure, and other darker influences. Please note that this is NOT going to be a conspiracy discussion. There is plenty going on in plain sight, thank you very much.

Fitness: Autoregulators, roll out

One of the tools you can leverage in the pursuit of world-class consistency is auto-regulation. Here, an exercise program provides the overall structure but your inner awareness guides you on where to push and where to hold back.

One of the key tools in building autoregulation-based workouts is your ability to accurately determine reps in reserve (RIR). This is affected by fatigue, stress, etc. — especially in more advanced lifters.

Your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is most practically used on a scale of 1-10, with the idea that a 10/10 rep means that you could not perform another rep — not for a million bucks. A 9/10 means that you have one rep in reserve. 8/10 means two RIR. You get the idea. Most of the time, I advocate for a 8-9 RPE. However, it’s worth asking if you are accurately assessing that. So, the next time you’re feeling zesty in the gym, here’s an experiment to see if you can accurately assess your RIR.

Work to the typical end of a set — and then take things to the true edge by imagining that you’ll get paid a million bucks for each additional rep. See what you’ve really got.

PSA: If you’re not sure where you can safely test your limits, dumbbell rows are a safe, forgiving choice.

Optimus wants you to know that, before it was called autoregulation, it was called "Cybernetic Periodization."

What I'm reading

After my recent interview with Ash Brandin on screen-time (listen here), I started digging a little deeper on how to look at video game environments more critically. That led me to Dark Patterns. This game review website not only offers a list of safe games, it describes the more insidious strategies that designers use to hook you. This is one of the things that we’ll likely discuss in next week’s call. See above for how to join the conversation.

Check out our (growing) book list

Submit your own recommendations here


"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
- Henry David Thoreau

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