Workout of the Day

Double Down on Quality

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It’s something of a cruel irony that the time when we are most likely to let technique and movement quality degrade also happens to be the time when we are most vulnerable. Of course there is no good time to let quality of movement slip, but let’s think of it in the context of a cycling race: at what point is it “best” for the cyclist to make a mistake, to slip, understeer a turn, etc? The answer is closer to the beginning of the race. The cyclist is less fatigued and has more time to recover last time -- again, not ideal, but better than the alternative. Towards the end of the race, the cyclists mistakes are more grave. Greater fatigue, the final sprint to the finish, and very little time to recover from the mistake make any errors exponentially more serious.

We observe that athletes tend to let their movement quality slip at the least optimal times: under the highest levels of fatigue and intensity. In the final reps of a set or the final seconds of a workout, movement quality is tossed aside in favor of haphazardly squeezing out another rep. This is where performance is limited and injury risk is high. It’s important to point out, though, that this is most often a mental failing rather than a physical one. Were the context different (i.e., if there were 10 minutes left in the workout as opposed to 10 seconds), the athlete would be physically capable and (here’s the key) mentally committed to moving with technical priority. The mind gives up on the body, not the other way around.

It should be no surprise that we have also observed the highest level performers executing their highest quality of movement in these “final rep” contexts. The best performers don’t let up on movement quality when performance demands are at the highest, they double down.
Next time you’re seconds away from the finish or completing the final reps, remember: your sprint to the finish, literal or metaphorical, is your best time to double down on quality.

- PS


7/19/17

  • Bent over barbell row - 3x8

  • For time:

    • 800m run

    • 5 rds

      • 100’ keg carry (AHAP)

      • 10 shoulder to overhead (95/65)

      • 10 pull-ups

    • 800m run