Workout of the Day

The Poison Is In The Dose


You are likely familiar with the notion that “the poison is in the dose.”

Moderate sun exposure is good for your health and vitality, while excessive sun exposure can cause burns and sickness. A very small concentration of cyanide, like that naturally found in foods like almonds and spinach, is harmless, while a larger dose is deadly. This notion gets at a wider truth: that we exist in a world of spectrums, not black-and-white facts.

Coaches come up against this challenge in the realm of fitness often. Online articles and even textbooks tend to present you with absolutes: you should never do this, and you should always do this. But, just like sun exposure or cyanide, the poison is in the dose.

Rounding your back is the perfect example. Common knowledge tells us that we should avoid lifting with a rounded back, and this is generally a good guideline to follow. But should we never round our backs?

What about a wrestler, who, out of necessity, will find herself in a flexed-back position (under load, no less) during her sport? Are we to tell her that she should never train with a rounded back to strengthen those positions?

Or how about the everyday human who needs to reach down and tie their shoes or grab something from under their seat in a cramped airplane? While I’d like to think that we would all have functionally mobile hamstrings that would permit these movements sans rounding, I know that’s not the case. Our spines can, and dare I say are meant to, flex, extend, and rotate.

To make matters more complicated, small, controlled doses of positions or movements that are commonly treated as “poison” can even yield a level of immunity from said poison. I am reminded of the battle of wits scene in The Princess Bride in which Westley tricks Vizzini the Sicilian into drinking poison which Westley had built up an immunity to. Regular, properly applied small doses can yield a defense against larger doses, should they ever occur. This is exactly why a wrestler may benefit from carefully applied strength training in spinal flexion, or why limited exposure to extreme heat and cold can benefit your health.

If we were to apply a moral to this story, it would be that we don’t deal in absolutes. Understand that the human system operates in spectrums of nuance. And if you encounter someone spouting absolutes, run the other way.

- PS


  • 3 rounds for quality:

    • 5 weighted strict pull-ups

    • 10 double KB front squat (AHAP)


  • 3 rounds for time:

    • 30 KBS (53/35)

    • 15 pull-ups