Why you’re still falling short of your goals in 2017



Today marks our final sunny day of January, and hopefully all of you are in hot pursuit of more fitness “wins” in 2017. Now that said I’m sure many of you like myself left a few things on the table in 2016.  The inconvenient truth is we all set out to accomplish something last year only to fall short (or maybe not even start at all).  

Most times this is less a product of effort and more a product having a flawed approach.  Often times people think that to improve at a specific movement they just need to keep practicing whatever movement it is they want to get better at. While the reality is there’s much more below the surface that needs to be corrected for that movement to progress. Confused? take the conversation below:

Athlete: “I want to add 20 lb. to my clean this year. My best right now is 200 lb.”
Coach: “What’s your 1 rep max front squat?”
Athlete: “I think around 210 lb. Why does my front squat matter?” It’s my clean I want to get better at.”

Clearly this person doesn’t see the same opportunity their coach does to improve the clean via squat strength improvement. That’s not an indictment of the athlete. It’s a simplistic example of the gap in experience and knowledge between a coach whose job it is to know this stuff inside and out, and an athlete who may be excited about what’s in front of them but hasn’t dug deeper to understand their own limiting factors.

Another example:

The athlete who can’t perform on overhead squat but wants to improve his snatch and thinks the answer is to spend an extra 20 minutes after class each day hammering away at snatches.

The better approach is to work with his coach who can provide him homework—probably a bunch of tedious seemingly unrelated drills, stretches, and fundamental movements that make him wonder how this will translate to the snatch—to help him gain stability overhead, and mobility in the hip, ankles, and upper back.  A far better approach than just hitting snatches four days a week hoping something will eventually click.

And since we’re on the cusp of the Open:

Athlete: “I want to get a muscle-up this year.”
Coach: “How many strict chest-to-bar pull-ups and ring dips can you do?”
Athlete: “1 or 2 ring dips and I don’t think I can do a strict chest-to-bar pull-up.”
Coach: “Well let’s start by improving your strict pulling and pushing strength before we get thinking about a muscle-up.”
Athlete: Makes a sad face.

The point is simply to say that getting better at cleans or snatches or muscle-ups or toes-to-bar involves way more than just logging time flailing around on the rings or a bar. It involves diagnosing what’s preventing you from improving—is it strength, is it positioning, or is it just a small technical correction?— then removing the limiting factors and building the necessary movement qualities to help you achieve that ultimate goal.

You can spend years using trial and error or spends hours a week researching on the internet trying to self diagnose why you still can’t do certain things. Or you can work with a great coach and start knocking those goats off your list systematically, and successfully. Let’s do it different in 2017. Get a coach, get a plan, and start winning.