Strategy For Improvement
As a coach, the thing we hear more often than anything else is, “I have plateaued in my workout program. What should I do?” Call it what you want: a slump, bored, plateaued. All of these things typically have one thing in common. You don’t know how to move forward. Most of the time, the answer sounds like, “Change it up. Variation or muscle confusion is what you need.” None of which is wrong, but it isn’t exactly the right answer, either. The problem is that there isn’t a common language that coach and athlete are speaking that allows for an understanding of how we should actually move forward. Without this language, moving forward looks like… just try harder.
Trying harder is not enough, nor is it a good strategy for long term growth and sustainability when it comes to movement. What we need is an intelligent, thoughtful strategy on how to bridge the gap; something that expands your experience as an athlete. How do we go from walking to running, or push ups to burpees, or trx pull ups to real pull ups to muscle ups, or whatever it is you are currently doing to something that moves you forward? We know how to do this with our minds. We tell our kids to study and read, to challenge themselves as students and people. What we forget, sometimes, is that these rules apply to us as well.
The rules of finding ways to bridge the gap, from where we are now to something better, is what keeps us motivated and moving forward.
Figure out what the deficiencies are and come up with solutions. Example: I can’t do a pull up because: I’m not strong enough, I’m afraid to try, I’ve got a shoulder injury, whatever it is… Once we have identified the deficiency, we can now start to problem solve and the solution might not be to try harder at the pull up. It might be to develop core strength, or shoulder mobility, or something else.
Prioritize position over intensity. If I want to become a better back squatter or a better runner, for example, the conversation has to stop at how you are moving and what positions you are in. In order for you continue to chase fitness, you’ll have to move well and understand what that means. If you choose to just run faster or just lift more weight, you might be able to bridge the gap in the short term, but I promise, the long term will really be tough for you to continue to grow.
Be aware of growth and head back to the basics. It’s good to self reflect and see if you are continuing to grow in your movement practice and lifestyle. We have measurables for this. They look different for everyone. How fast do I run? How much weight have I lost? Am I happy? All of these are meaningful in some way to each of us. The key is to be aware of these markers and continuously assess. Often times we have to go back to the basics in order to move forward. We have to become better at position or we have to become better at hip mobility before we can run faster; we have to become more sound squatters before we can back squat heavier loads.
The truth is, we should never arrive. We should never be at a place that we are as fit as we are going to be. I belive it’s always a good thing to assess, diagnose, and start a conversation on how to move forward in a meaningful way.