With the Open coming up and thanks to the billion local competitions happening, a question often asked in class is “what’s the standard for this movement?” In events, like the Open, movement standards are used to define the prescribed task and to standardise the tasks to ensure that all participants are subject to the same requirements. All sports have standards; out of bounds lines, scoring positions, infringements, etc. And it’s all for the same purpose–to create a level playing field.
What we do in class, however, is not a sport. It’s training. One of the reasons you participate in a sport, like the Open, is to test the fitness you’ve developed in training. Therefore, there are no standards in training.
Before you take that and run (a bigger) riot in class, that does not mean you’re free to do whatever floats your boat in training. We teach you particular positions in training because they are the safest positions that will also yield the best results quickly. We spend most of our time in those fundamental positions, such as feet shoulder width in the squat, and when we’ve developed consistently good mechanics with intensity we freestyle it by playing with positions to suit the workout while increasing our skill level. We also drill good range of motion (RoM) in training because it pertains to improving your fitness.
So if we had to use phrases to define the difference, there are competition standards versus movement in training. What you should recognise is that consistently good movement in training naturally gives you high competition standards.
To go back to what we do in training, testing forms a part of evaluating training progress. When we do fitness testing in sessions, we do use some standards to ensure that you have a consistent and measurable baseline to track changes against.
In training, focus on consistently good positions. If you enter a competition, adhere to the movement standards to avoid no-reps. In training, there are no no-reps (unless we’re testing fitness ;-)).
We’ve all had nights where we just can’t seem to fall asleep. You didn’t have caffeine, it was a busy day, you don’t have much on your mind at all, and you are ready to sleep. Yet you just can’t doze off. What do you do to help you fall asleep? In general, you try several things.
You might read, count your breaths, try to control your breathing or count sheep. Perhaps you have a glass of warm milk and some baked treats in the hope of inducing a carb coma. Or maybe you go looking for earplugs and eye patches? Whatever the approach/es, you tried hard but to no avail.
It was just sleep. Why are given so many approaches to make such a natural habit ‘work’?
It’s a common trait, though. You’ve got to work hard to get stuff done, yeah? Nah, not always.
Until you’ve acquired mastery, performing a movement requires a conscious effort. But more often than not, you try too hard to learn or improve a movement. You become so focused on getting it right that you almost freeze up. I call it paralysis by analysis. Your CNS either becomes so lit up that you become to rigid to move, or there are too many messages coming from the brain for the body to make sense and nothing happens when you try to.
That’s what happens in the moment. What follows is lots of ‘work’ to make you better. Learn more progressions, do more reps, watch more videos. You keep trying harder. Do you remember what eventually got you to sleep? Unlikely. What probably happened is that you gave up trying, and then fell asleep.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t try. In movement if you don’t try you won’t know. What I’m saying is that you should try differently. Think about it before you move, and when you do move, just move. Think about one to two things only. Ride the good and bad days. Accept the process for what it is–a process. Do less, it’s more. Chill out, the world will keep turning!
The images below are of a text message chat I had last year with one of our dear members, Dmtry The Russian. It was following a workout that involved three barbell movements and the
prescribedguideline load was your body weight. I trained in the class after Dmtry and when I got there he was still in the trenches, trying to complete the workout right at the time cap. I told him I’d kick his ass in the workout. I apologise for the poor quality of the image and my colourful language!
Dmtry did the maths. Although it’s not the most accurate calculation of power output, it shows that I had a far greater power output than him. I did kick his ass. He chose the guideline load of his body weight and that resulted in a time of 28 minutes. I went with 10kg under my bodyweight and finished in 17:50. Did he work hard? Absolutely. Was his workout effective? Not in the least. He didn’t get stronger (because it wasn’t designed to be a strength workout), nor did he increase his capacity (which was the primary goal of that workout).
He felt like he worked hard. But intensity isn’t a feeling. It’s based on how much work you do relative to the time you do it in. And the only way you’ll ever achieve the intended benefits of a workout is by modifying it to your abilities.
What you see on the whiteboard is a guideline, and along with the coach’s directions on the intended benefits of the workout, that gives you a template for that day’s session. You will almost always need to modify the session in some way. How do you do that? We use a simple guide:
- First reduce the technical demand of the movement/s. This is especially so for barbell and gymnastics movements.
- Reduce the load–put less kilograms on the bar. We can also reduce load on gymnastics movements.
- Reduce volume (reps/distance/sets/calories/etc.). This is probably done the least yet is so effective.
That order changes depending on the workout, but you should be doing some form of modification most of the time, regardless of your experience. Remember, the programming isn’t based on what you all used to be able to do. It’s based on where you could be.
When speaking to successful people–successful in business, sports, life, family, academia, getting out of bed daily–about their paths to success, there is a common trait. That the road to success wasn’t always that straight. It was characterised by bumps, detours, u-turns, dead stops and a lot of thick mud. If it was easy, everyone would be so successful, right?!
The health and fitness journey is much the same, especially because the overarching goal is lifelong fitness. Your PB graph is going to be far from linear. That’s how it goes naturally, but sometimes it’s good for you to consciously turn back with a view to better progress. Yes, go backwards in order to go forwards.
Consider the pull-up. You start with a simple ring row and end up with the technical butterfly chest-to-bar pull-up on the extreme opposite. If you end up stuck at one of the stages of progression for longer than you’d like to, you aren’t moving forward. The most common strategy is then to layer on more work, which can and does work at times. But try a regression.
If your kipping pull-up capacity just isn’t growing, go back to focusing more on your strict pull-up strength and use jumping pull-ups on a lower box in metcons. If you’re a handstand push-up ninja, increase the deficit by a lot and only work the eccentric until you can press out of the bottom–that’s regressing to turn a strength into new skill!
If your running capacity feels stuck, don’t just run more. Tweak your mechanics and use shorter runs and sprint work to dial it in. It will improve your running in the long term.
Taking a step back is also a lesson in enjoying and respecting the process, which is especially important in fitness because there is no end destination. So if you’re hesitant to hold or back for a bit, it’s just your ego getting in the way. Try it. Silence the ego, take a step back for a while, and take note of your progress. But don’t forget to enjoy the process!
For as far back as I can remember now, we’ve had two tracks of programming. There’s L1, the fitness track, and L2 the performance track. For a while there were even three tracks, one being for ‘competitors.’ That was a mistake, but a good lesson nonetheless! The primary reason for the two tracks is to ensure that we’re covering all bases of fitness for all levels of fitness.
Having two programming tracks also takes care of much of the modifying guidelines you and the coaches need to ensure that you achieve the intended benefits of the workout, which means getting a good workout. And it shows you where you could be going with your fitness. However, you don’t have to, and for a long won’t be, following just one or the other track.
New members are the exception here. You all start on the fitness track because that’s where we build a strong foundation. Depending on how you progress, you could be capable of completing some pieces of the performance track in six months. And as you progress over the years you’ll find yourself having to mix and match between the two tracks to ensure you are progressing. The ability and need to mix and match doesn’t stop there, though.
If you have been following the L2 track for a long time, are able to complete some of the workouts as prescribed, and are still progressing, the L1 track still has benefits for you. The best benefit is arguably a bit of regression work. Dial the technical demand, volume and intensity down a bit to practise good recovery habits and tidy up your fundamental movement patterns.
You do however need to be smart about this. There is no point mixing and matching so much that you end up with an entirely different workout because you won’t progress at all. Scaling up or down too much will have the same effect, and scaling up too much WILL leave you injured. And that’s where the advice of the coaches comes in. While you are ultimately responsible for the direction you take, you are coming to us for a service. You can pay for a good plate of food without eating it, but I’m sure there are better ways of wasting money 😉
On a side note, following the fitness (L1) track doesn’t mean your performance won’t increase, and following the performance track doesn’t mean your fitness won’t increase. They are merely terms we use to describe slightly different methods and stages in your fitness journey.
So blaze your own trail, but heed the advice of your tour guides, the coaches, for a fun but safe journey.
Posts tagged with ‘training’