Workout of the Day

Zooming In and Out

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We’ve talked before about the need to take on a more zoomed-out approach with our fitness and progress in general. This applies to how we view our progress in reference to time, and to the level of detail to which we choose to direct the majority of our attention. But like anything practical and real, there is no single solution, no definitively “right” way. And in the case of how far we zoom in or out when we are examining and measuring our progress or planning our next steps, the most unproductive thing we can do is lock ourselves into one frame of seeing and understanding. Matching our scale of view (our “zoom”) to the object of attention is essential to doing this whole thing better.

To pull ourselves out of the clouds of esoteric word vomit for a moment, let’s look at an example of how this plays out in the everyday.

Weight loss (or, more specifically, fat loss) is a common goal, and is just about as common as the perspective that results should come quickly and effortlessly. We see these both at work in the common occurrence of disappointment in lack of immediate results from a diet, exercise regimen, whatever, and in the subsequent feelings of defeat and then abandonment of the process. This is generally a case where the individual has not matched their scale of view to the problem at hand. It takes people quite a bit of time to put on 40lbs of unwanted weight (generally, a number of years), and we have no reason to expect that losing all that weight should take any less time. Individuals who look at their progress with a narrowed scale of view fail to see progress because they’re zoomed in too far. “It’s been two weeks and I’ve only lost a pound. This isn’t working.” If the individual zoomed out a bit and took on a field of view that looked at, say, three month blocks of time, they may see that while they had only lost one pound in the first few weeks, they had lost 11 pounds by the end of three months.

When the perspective doesn’t match the task, we lose sight of whether real progress is being made, and we react out of misinformation. We see this in pursuits of strength, speed, in injury recovery, mobility, skill work, and outside of the gym, too. And while the more common mistake is to narrow our field of vision to too short of a time period or too nuanced and specific of a matter, the opposite mistake occurs as well.

The reason this proper “zooming-in/out” is so important is that our scale of view affects how we direct our energy. Whether we’re aware of it or not, our actions are generated out of some degree of a feedback loop. Action, result, reflection, and then adjustment/change to action. Wash, rinse, repeat. This feedback loop, however, often goes on outside of our conscious observation or control. One might call this a reactive way of living. This is exactly what happens when someone gives up on a diet after two weeks. Yes, the action, result, reflection, and change are all there, but the gap between action and result is too short, the scope of the reflection too narrow, and the subsequent change is more of a misinformed reaction than a thoughtful, data driven decision to make an adjustment. But when we're aware of the scale with which we're viewing our actions and results, we tend to find that things work out a bit better.
We can always do better; we just have to make sure we’re looking at things the right way.

- Preston Sprimont

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1/19/17

  • Front squat - work up to a 3rm

  • 5 min AMRAP

    • Row 100m

    • 100’ keg carry (AHAP)