Blog 28 – Before you freak out…

Blog 28 – Before you freak out…

… about my last blog describing some of the changes that we are implementing, let’s frame that conversation some more, AND finish by making a case how it can (READ: will) improve your gym experience. 

To start, we need to recognize how much perfectionism and idealism play in to the fitness industry. This shows up in multiple forms, but mostly in the form of creating an either/or, good/bad, right/wrong, etc. conversation with ourselves, which in itself limits or ability to understand and perceive accomplishment. Two examples:

  • Time-based – You believe you have to work out for an hour. This can lead to two, wildly, different scenarios for people. On one hand, folks might not feel it’s “worth it” to work out for less than an hour. This may be people not coming to class because they are late, it may be rationalizing not to go for a 30-minute walk because it’s not the same as a 45-minute HIIT class. Either way, it leads a person towards a feeling of doing less (or to keep the theme, not being perfect). On the other hand some might feel that they didn’t do enough in the hour (or whatever their chosen time frame is), so they feel the need to do more – a second WOD, “just a couple of pull-ups,” “I need to work on my double unders,” etc. This, too, is a form of perfectionism that will ALWAYS lead the person towards a lower sense of accomplishment. “I didn’t use the prescribed weight, so I did XYZ.” “I’m not even going to sweat, so I won’t bother.” “I’m not coming this weekend, so I’ve got to get in XYZ.” In reality, the hour prescription of every boutique fitness or group class session is simply a matter of logistics. It’s easiest to communicate and schedule in mass via the clock. People have more important things to do with their time, and no one would come for a 30 minute or 2 hour workout. All of these are simply logistics; none of which is backed by any sort of science – for you six sigma “scientists” out there please don’t jump down my throat. 
  • Prescription-based – We often give too much credit for what the whiteboard or website says the workout is and feel like we’ve done “less” if we don’t follow that to the letter. This is probably the most common conversation that coaches have at the gym. We try to help modify the workout to match where a person is that day, and create a situation where we unintentionally create harm by shifting a person away from the prescription. This could be in the form of reps, sets, weight, time, etc. “The whiteboard said X, but I only did Y.” “I modified the workout, so I didn’t get everything I could out of it.” “I didn’t do as well as you because you did more weight/reps.” “But Nigel said…”

These are just two examples, but this shows up in MANY forms around fitness (food, rest, etc). We encourage you to think about how this has showed up for you. It should be noted here, that PDX Strength and all of its coaches recognize how much our voice matters, various ways that we’ve contributed to this. We want to use the trust that you’ve granted us to create a better conversation around health and fitness in our community. We’ve contributed to this as much as anyone (if not more so), and want to do better. 

Speaking of better… I’m now going to blow your minds about how this will actually lead to an improvement in the magic workout word, “performance” – not that I don’t think that combatting perfectionism doesn’t, but I understand that you don’t think brain GAINZ are what you’re here for. Sooooooo, butt stuff…

When we design workouts, we look at various things – movement patterns, priority muscle groups, loading, intensity, skill, what we’ve done previously and what will do, etc. With so many variables it’s easy to overcomplicate working out (see above). But really, “performance” comes by intentionally and appropriately increasing volume (total loading = total weight X total reps) – “appropriately” being an operative term here. For the sake of simplicity (and word count here, and to work the term butt stuff back in), we’ll use an example from the last blog as reference:

PREVIOUSLY, we might have written “30 barbell snatches for time (95#/65#)”

NOW, we might say “30 ground to OH for time (Review Nigel’s notes on intention to determine loading.)”

In this example, we are talking about a hip extension/jump pattern priority (butt and hamstring – high power output) with an auxiliary shoulder movement. The intention loading is med-heavy. Something that allows for continuous effort, whether that’s 30 singles or 6 sets of 5s. 

Previously, it is most common for us to modify the loading. If a 95/65 snatch is too heavy, we move the weight to something like 75/45 and continue with the written movement “snatch,” OR we stubbornly try to complete the workout with the written skill at the written loading. In both scenarios we’ve moved too far away from the intention for the sake of being “perfect” (see above). In either case, the loading being too light or too heavy, our body will compensate with dominant muscle groups rather than priority muscle groups to accomplish the task that you ask it to (in this case taking the barbell from the ground to overhead in one movement  HOW’S THAT FOR FORESHADOWING?!), often moving away from the priority movement (butt stuff).

BUT(T), if we frame the conversation a little differently, “30 ground to OH for time (Review Nigel’s notes on intention to determine loading.),” then it opens up a completely different (READ: more appropriate) set of options for us. We’ve now created the opportunity to do the workout with a clean and press with a wide variety of different implements. Both of these movements allow you to focus more attention towards butt stuff and give your shoulder more direct loading. We’ve also removed some “skill” which allows you to move just as quickly and safety, if not more so, than stubbornly sticking with the snatch. AND … (Now are you ready for the kicker here? The reason that you’re all here anyway? The reason you’ve basically read a double blog post of my bullshit?) and when we modify skill level WE CAN INCREASE LOADING. That’s right folks, we’re actually creating a scenario where we can find a more appropriate, AND INCREASED, total loading (total weight X total reps)… So if all of this doesn’t perk your ass up (literally and figuratively), perhaps we spend more time visiting the conversation in the first half of the blog. 

Yours in BRAIN GAINZ and butt stuff, 


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