Slowly But Surely

Our society has an obsession with achievement.  I’m as guilty of it as the next guy too, so this post is as much for me as anyone else.  When I watch professional athletes apply themselves in their respective sport, I want immediately to be as strong and as fast as they are.  And maybe, if I’m feeling motivated I’ll try something I’ve seen them do next time I work out.  Let me say, this usually ends in failure and frustration.

I surmise that the key to adult learning is repetition.  Practice something over and over again until your brain no longer has to think about what it’s doing, it just does it.  This is true inside and outside of the gym.  Want your double-unders to improve?  Practice them for 5 minutes every day.  Want to get more comfortable with an olympic lift?  Repetitions my friends.  Quality repetitions over large volume at a moderate intensity will burn patterns or habits into your brain.  Notice I use the words QUALITY, VOLUME, and MODERATE.  There is a reason for this…let me explain:

Quality is important.  I can perform a quality thruster at 75 to 95 pounds and do a large volume of them.  I know I’m capable of performing a thruster at 115 or more pounds, but add volume and the intensity of a workout and the quality suffers greatly.  I won’t perform those thrusters correctly over volume, and this might ingrain some bad habits in my technique.  Here are a couple of scenarios:

Scenario 1:
So, lets say that because I’m obsessed with achievement and I see on the board that someone else has done 115 pounds for the thruster in a workout I go ahead and load 115 on my bar.  I finish the workout; I get a little sloppy and my thruster gets ugly towards the end, but I finish.  Success (or is it?)!

Scenario 2:
Assume I don’t quite have toe pushups yet.  I’ve gotta do them on my knees.  Lets say that every time we do pushups, which is at least weekly, I always without fail do 2-5 on my toes or give it my best shot.  Doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s possible, and over weeks and months I’m going to rack up some repetitions of toe pushups and they will have improved.

Here’s the deal, focusing on achievements causes us to overlook slow, consistent progress.  Slow consistent progress isn’t as glamorous as huge milestone achievements.  But it works and it’s how high achievers get where they are.  When we see somebody do something we can’t and make it look easy, that doesn’t mean they started at that point.  If I see one of you do one thousand (exaggeration) 115 pound thrusters without breaking a sweat, that does that you just walked into the gym that day, picked up the bar, and did it?  Probably not, you’ve probably done lots and lots of quality repetitions to build that skill, strength, and endurance.

So next time you get frustrated about something that’s giving you trouble in the gym, take a step back and think of the easiest possible step that will get you closer to doing what you want to do.  Once you’ve got that little step, do it without fail every time you come to the gym.  Be patient with your progress.  I notice with high achievers that they go slow, consistent, and deliberate but they DO NOT stop.  Use that mentality towards your fitness, and over time you will see results and keep yourself from crashing and burning or getting hurt by being achievement driven.


The O-Board Says…

1-20 Burpees
20-1 Kettlebell Swings
1 burpee, 20 KB swings
2 burpee, 19 KB swings
and so on…

Post by Stets.