On Tuesday, Coach Wes posted a meme that was the perfect intro to today’s article. He had no idea what I planned to write about, but the fact that there is a meme about it says it’s a common occurrence.
In the midst of all the New Year’s resolutions and the hype of The Open coming up there tends to be an added pressure to ‘perform’ in the gym. People’s focus turns to the numbers on the board and the actual work being done becomes secondary. This leads to mediocre training just to get that score and very little actual progress. I challenge you to find a way that that is going to serve you in the future.
In my opinion, as a coach and an athlete, training is very rarely about the score. It’s much more about the quality of movement and the development of the skills so that I can progress. That’s not to say I don’t push my people or myself, only that if it’s a shitty rep, we’re not counting it. Yes, there are those who straight up shave reps (see below video), but in my opinion, it’s just as bad to count reps that you know aren’t up to par when you are trying to. Here’s why:
Let’s say I’m working on my toes to bar. I can get close, every once in awhile my toes get all the way up there, but for the most part I just do the work and say “eh, that’s close enough” with a good 8 inches between my toes and the bar. How am I EVER going to get better at the skill if I settle for mediocre? What do you think would happen if instead, during every single WOD with toes to bar, I held myself accountable and only counted the reps where my toes truly touched the bar? I’d probably progress more quickly because I’d get pretty damn tired of doing all those extra reps that didn’t count.
Another option I have here, is to take a step back in the progression. Maybe I never actually get my toes close to the bar, but I can get my knees to my elbows almost every time. What’s the better option here? Do shitty toes to bar reps or do proper knees to elbows reps? At least in the second option I’m practicing proper form and I’m going to develop the skill and my strength. Once I’m efficient in that progression, I can move back up and continue my progress. Poor practice makes for poor performance. Proper practices makes for improvement.
Now let’s look at those rep shavers. ‘Karen’ is on the board (150 wall balls for time).. I’m scanning the scores from the earlier classes and I see that ‘John’ did it in 5:15. Well… I’m going to do it in 5:00! 3-2-1 go… rep after rep (let’s say for the sake of this scenario that all my reps are legitimately good).. I’m getting tired and no one else is counting my reps, but me….. Rep, rep, rep… oh jeez the clock says 4:45 and I’m only at 119… eh screw it, I have to beat John so I just call it at the 5:00 minute mark even though I only completed about 130 reps. No one will know. I report my score, Coach gives me a high five, and no one is the wiser.
A few weeks down the road, ‘Karen’ comes up again and we do it with a partner who helps keep count. Where am I now? I shaved 20 reps last time to get that score and I’ve done nothing between then and now to improve my ability in this WOD. I’m in trouble because there is no way I can repeat that score with a proper rep count… busted.
Guys, regardless of what your scenario is, it all boils down to integrity and diligence in your training. If you truly want to improve and succeed you have to hold yourself accountable. We as coaches do our best to give corrections and cues throughout, but I can’t stand next to you and count every rep or watch to make sure your toes hit that bar every time. There is always room for improvement and I am the first to admit that sometimes fatigue, injury, or whatever else affects the movement. If that’s the case, do your best at the proper progression, but don’t come report RX when 90% of the time your toes were 8 inches from the bar.
If you need help with a progression, ASK US. We are here to guide your progress so if there is something you’re struggling with or you don’t know the proper way to progress, get with your coach and we’ll figure it out, but don’t settle for mediocre movement for the sake of the score.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”