Workout of the Day

When the Numbers Distract


I occasionally catch myself in the act of neglecting the exact thing that I aim to encourage so many others to do: hold the standard. These are never proud moments, but they are valuable. Just the other day, while doing the GPP workout of the day between classes, I found myself letting some poor quality reps slide in an effort to beat a score that someone had posted on the whiteboard earlier that day. I justified some questionable reps because I let competitive spirit get the best of me -- I was distracted by the numbers.

The “numbers,” to speak quite generally, can be a tremendous asset in training. We all post our scores, weights, etc. on the board daily to maintain accountability, definitively measure progress, and foster healthy and friendly competition. But the numbers are only an asset up to the point that they facilitate holding the standard. If we are not conscious of it, if we are easily swept up in meaningless number-chasing, they become a distraction. They become the end rather than the means.

Without question, competition is a valuable tool in our toolbox, and pursuing particular numbers can provide motivation and fun. But what about when the numbers cloud our view of what we’re really here for? Are you really okay with saddling yourself to the pursuit of some arbitrary number that’s higher than some other person’s arbitrary number for that day?

On your list of reasons for investing your time and energy to commit yourself to a health and fitness practice, I seriously doubt that “crush Johnnie’s score” or “225lb ________” ranks very high.

Use the numbers. Compete, set goals, and pursue the numbers; but don’t let them light your path. We’re here for something much bigger.

- PS


  • Spend 15 minutes working on bar muscle-up skill/strength

  • For quality, make 4 attempts:

    • 10 unbroken box jumps (30/24)

    • 10 unbroken rings dips

    • 10 unbroken toes to bar

  • Rest ~1 min