Nigel O’Connor, owner of CrossFit Basingstoke in the UK,
tried an experiment a little while ago.
He didn’t post his gym’s workouts on their blog for one week.
All hell broke loose!
“It was like I told them Christmas was cancelled,” O’Connor said.
“As much as I try to educate my members that they need to work on
all areas of fitness—strength, mobility, endurance—I still get members
not working on their weaknesses, not turning up to strength sessions
as they feel they aren’t getting a ‘sweat’ on, or on the other end of the spectrum
people hitting weights all the time but miss the met-cons because they’re hard.”
Workout cherry-pickers exist at almost every gym in the world, and as coaches
we get a little sad when they cross our paths.
Because we have your best interests in mind.
The three main reasons people choose to cherry-pick their workouts seem to be:
- “The workout looks ‘too light’ or ‘too easy.’”
- “The workout looks too hard or intimidating, and I’m not good at
any of those movements.”
- “Isn’t what we do just random anyway? Who cares if I cherry-pick?”
Let’s address all of the above:
1. “Too light”: A workout may not be what it seems
Have you ever looked at a workout and thought to yourself,
“That won’t be very hard.”
…And then when you do it, it proceeds to kick your ass?
I’ve learned that the easier a workout looks on paper, the worse it’ll feel.
One of my favorite workouts to do when traveling is Tabata air squat.
No weights, nothing technical, just sit down and stand up over and over again.
You’d think it’d be easy for someone used to squatting heavy.
But after four minutes, my legs go numb and I fall over. Every time.
This seemingly light 4-minute squat workout is designed for muscular endurance.
After a few intervals you get a bunch of acid accumulation in the legs and hips,
and everything starts to burn.
Often when this happens, athletes stop and take a break to prevent muscle failure.
But with strong legs, you’re not ever in danger of failing to stand up.
So instead you have to push through the pain, ultimately training your legs to
buffer lactic acid and increase muscular endurance.
This helps with anything that uses your legs for a prolonged duration.
Like running, rowing, or high-rep back squats.
The point is, you can get unexpected value out of drills and workouts you’d least expect.
Instead of wishing there were harder movements programmed every day,
like high-rep back squats, take comfort in the fact that your squats
can get better in many ways.
So the next time you’re debating skipping the day because it doesn’t seem
“hard” enough for you, think again.
It might hit you in a productive way you won’t see coming.
2. “It’s too hard and I’m not good at it”:
Put aside your worries and fears
(aka don’t suffer from LBS)
On the other side of the fence are athletes who skip workouts
because they look too hard.
Talk to any gym owner and ask them what happens when they program a 5k run?
The gym becomes a ghost town because everyone knows how awful that feels.
I challenge you to find a way to put your fears and ego aside and just walk through the door.
Once you’re at the gym, the energy from the coaches and other athletes will carry you through the workout.
One way to do this is to verbally commit to a friend that you’re meeting them at the 5 p.m. class after work.
Often, people get scared of workouts and skip daunting sessions when
benchmark workouts like Fran or Helen show up.
If you have been training for a while, you’ve probably done those workouts
a few times and know how hard they can be.
And how painful it will be if you try to PR.
I’ve done Fran, Helen, Grace, and all the other named workouts countless times.
Half the time or more, I don’t PR. And that’s okay – I always at least get close, and I learn something.
Here’s my advice: Get that word PR out of your mind.
It’s just training.
Look yourself in the mirror and say, “Who f*cking cares if I PR today?
It’s not a reflection of my self-worth!
All it means is I happened to exercise faster than the last time I did that workout.”
And then remind yourself that you’ll feel more guilty and shame bailing from the workout
than you ever will from showing up and failing to go a little faster than last time.
Plus, camaraderie is built through shared suffering.
When you slog through a gnarly workout with other people, you all become better friends for it.
A couple years ago, I did an exercise competition with Hee and Allan.
We overheard a conversation among people from another gym, with a British girl saying
“It sounds like someone’s suffering from Little Bitch Syndrome.”
We just about died laughing.
So don’t suffer from LBS. Show up to the hard workouts.
3. “Workouts are random, right?”: A bigger plan in place
Because we do so many types of movements and workouts each week,
it might seem to you that workouts are random and varied,
but we can assure you there’s more thought and planning to it than that.
Much planning has gone into creating a plan for the week, the month, the quarter,
and even the year—to help you get as fit as possible.
Choosing to skip certain days or certain types of workouts just means
you won’t be getting the most out of the programming
we put a lot of time and effort into creating.
When you skip workouts and cherry-pick, you’re actually turning the program
into a more random one.
It’s not that you won’t still improve from chaotic programming,
but your improvements will be better if you follow a balanced program
with more consistency to your weeks.
So…if you know what’s good for you, show up on the days your mind is
feeling dread, fear, disappointment, confusion or skepticism.
Those days might just be where the gains will be made.