Workout of the Day:
Three rounds for time of:
10 x Hang Power Snatch (115/75 lbs.)
15 x Ring Row
Fundamentals – Steps Back, Leaps Forward
Written by Mike Hom
Often times, we become overly involved in forward progress without regard to periodic re-evaluation. This happens with both experienced and inexperienced athletes. As an example, you may be decent enough at the air squat, which then allows you to be decent enough at the front and overhead squats, which results in you being decent enough at the clean or snatch. What invariably follows is decent enough progress until you hit a very tangible ceiling – the plateau, so to speak. The basic thought process is to examine how to create quick forward progress (to maintain momentum, of course) which, for most people, is the ability to move more weight. And, often times, the easiest conclusion to come to is to suck it up and try to increase the weight with your “decent enough” form.
Unfortunately, this is not the best approach to make progress.
Virtuosity is a subject we coaches like to hit on, repeatedly, from every angle. It gives us a base motivation to be better at something. That constant improvement is what keeps us coming back. Let’s go back to the example above: Everything about our overall performance is “decent enough.” It’s alright. It ain’t anything to write home about.
We DO NOT want good enough.
We want to be the best at what we do. We aspire not for a 10 on a scale of 1-10. We want to aim for 11. The question is, how do we get to 11 when we’re at a 3, 5 or 7? How can we make those leaps of progress? Sometimes we have to do what is hardest.
We have to take steps back.
Aside from being a coach, I try to maintain some modicum of athleticism. I have to be very honest with myself about where I stand with regards to my performance overall and with each discrete movement and exercise. I am good at some. I am OK at others. I am terrible at many. I can elect to only chase my strengths. That’s great for my ego. But to become more well-rounded – to become fitter by any standard – I have to buck up and work on the stuff I am simply not good at. It also means that I have to work on all of the constituent exercises that may lead to more complex movements – regardless of whether I am good at them or not.
Going back to the original example in the first paragraph, if I am only decent enough at the clean, I will work on not just my front squat, but my air squat! Why? Because it is principally the fundamental exercise. If I cannot improve my ability to brace as hard as possible, squeeze my glutes, suck my ribs down and keep my spine and hip wedded for integrated movement without load, it would be a good guess (not necessarily a law, though) that having a load across my collarbone and shoulders will not assist in the matter.
If chasing excellence leads to success, then chasing virtuosity leads to progress. Some could say they are the same, but I say they are similar with differences. Excellence is a state of superiority in some given quality – to go above and beyond. Virtuosity is having great skill in the practice of something – anything. You want to chase virtuosity in your movement to continually nurture the seed of progress. You want to use that progress to help you chase excellence in order to go above and beyond what you think you can do, and consequently, experience success.
Be excellent. Be virtuous.