Make Your Bed and You’ll Succeed In Your Fitness Endeavors

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I’m an inspirational video junkie.

If I can find a great TED Talk or a video from a individual who has accomplished some amazing feats and has something to share about it, I am going to watch it.

Extracting value from anything and everything-video or the written word- has been a hobby of mine for a quite some time now, and this morning’s extraction was especially enlightening and thought provoking, definitely worth the 19 minutes of time to take it all in.

The video I watched was from this year’s University of Texas graduation commencement speech, where alumnus William H. McRaven was the guest speaker to nearly 8,000 graduating seniors.

McRaven is a big deal in the military, as he is the acting commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He helped organize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Not bad for the resumé.

There were a great number of points in McRaven’s speech that are worth discussing, but one in particular seemed to resonate with me.

It had to do with the SEAL training instructors entering the barracks every morning and conducting a stringent inspection of each SEAL candidates bed.

What were they observing? How well they made their made their bed.

Sheets needed to be square and crisp around each corner, covers pulled tight, extra blanket folded and placed gently at the foot of the “rack”, pillow placed carefully in at the head of the bed, perfectly centered.

The bed needed to be made to perfection, each and every day, no exceptions whatsoever. McRaven went on to comment, “It was a simple task- mundane at best.”

But the point of the task was in the wisdom behind it’s execution.

“If you make your bed everyday you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Here comes the magic statement (the wisdom if you will)…

“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right”.

Although this sounds like something that many of you have probably heard over and over again, it deserves to be revisited the brilliance is in it’s simplicity.

Especially if you’re chasing fitness or any health related goal.

You need not worry about supplementation, fancy magazine exercises or any other minutiae if you are not already executing the basics of drinking water, eating whole foods, sleeping, and moving around more frequently and with purpose.

Doing so is putting the cart ahead of the horse, and will leave you filled with anxiety, broke and disappointed. I speak from experience first and foremost.

The magic solution to fitness (and health for that matter) is consistently (and frequently) executing the basics of human movement, nutrition and sleep despite all of the urges to not do so.

Stopping to make your bed in the morning gives you momentum throughout the rest of the day.

It really doesn’t matter what style of nutrition you choose (Paleo, Intermittment Fasting, more frequent feedings, square meals, etc) or how you choose to train (long slow cardio, powerlifiting, movement based, gymnastics, metabolic resistance, etc), if you can’t make you bed… you’re not doing the basics.

You’ve left a gap in the process. Your tactics are lacking the fundamental elements from which all other higher level tactics must rest upon.

If you want to draw some parallels to exercise and making your bed, I would say that the entire concept of exercise progression starts with making your bed.

If you want to move like Ido Portal or an elite gymnast, you better understand that it takes years of movement practice to achieve that level of movement. Practicing handstands once a week when it is convenient for you won’t cut it.

If you want to deadlift 600lbs, you better start with successfully pulling 135lbs with flawless form first. Heck, can you hinge your hips correctly without any weight? Start there.

You don’t have to like the timeless principles of overload and exercise progression, but you should probably learn to respect them.

Those who are consistent in their approach to overload and detailed with their attention to moving through exercise progressions often make the fastest advances and the greatest gains, all without sacrificing the integrity of your bones and joints. You can go hard, but go hard with “smart” always in the back of your mind.

And on and on…

Here are a few other make your bed scenarios…

“Can you teach me how to single arm swing a kettlebell and transition into a bottoms up squat to press”?

– “Have you made your bed?”

“Can you share with me why I should be eating more coconut oil and why MCT’s are good for the body?”

– “Have you made your bed?”

“What’s the difference between whey protein isolate and casein protein and how often should I be consuming each?

– “Have you made your bed?”

What’s the main idea here?

If a Navy SEAL, who is a professional warrior in essence, has to learn how to perfect the habit of making his bed prior to moving on to anything else in their training curriculum, why would it be any different for the average human?

Get your “make your bed” activity done right away in the morning. In other words, do something- and this can be anything really- that gives you momentum that can be leveraged for the remainder of the day.

This day to day execution will accumulate to weekly execution, which will spill over to monthly execution, which will spill over to yearly execution, which will culminate into your lifelong habits.

All of the small puzzle pieces, when put in their proper places, will eventually create a masterpiece.

Imagine, all you did was dedicate yourself to making your bed savagely well.

The magic is in the details, as basic as they may be.



Cheers to making your bed…


(Check out the full video of this AMAZING speech on my Facebook Page)

One thought on “Make Your Bed and You’ll Succeed In Your Fitness Endeavors

  1. Hey, Kyle, thanks for bringing this speech to attention and reflecting on it! I actually like your perspective on it much more than the original piece. I respect people whose calling is fighting for their countries, but ‘changing the world’ for me would mean less people that have such horrendous grueling experience as part of their professional training.

    But I liked how you took that ‘magic statement’ out of the speech, applied it to everyday situations and made it very appealling. It’s so true that first one should take care of the basics. We all know what they are, but because of their simplicity we should not underestimate them.

    I now find that I try to apply this thinking everywhere, tweaking it and seeing where else could I use it. What new piece of research is there concerning stress… Did you sleep enough hours this night? What cutting-edge time management tool is there out on the market… Did you come to work this morning and just dived into doing your stuff? How much money could I allow to spend on a fancy trip overseas… Did you go to a nearest park and enjoyed fresh air and movement? What new clothes could I buy… Did you organize your closet? and so on.

    Very, very thought-provoking.

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