Move With Intent!
The whiteboard tells an incomplete story when it comes to workout performance. Think of the whiteboard simply as a scoreboard:
• What level did you do?
• What was your time / score?
• How many rounds did you miss?
• How much weight did you lift?
While these are useful bits of information, they are purely objective, quantitative measures of performance and output. What they fail to capture are all the subtle, subjective, and qualitative aspects of a training session that can’t be conveyed by a score. How you deadlift is more important than how much you deadlift. This can easily get overlooked when chasing a particular score on the leaderboard. Constantly pursuing higher intensity levels as movement efficiency and quality erode is foolish at best, and injurious at worst. Luckily, there are other ways we can measure workout quality and improvement that are both safe in the short term, and sustainable in the long.
Shift your focus to moving with intent each time you set foot in the gym. Moving with intent means moving deliberately, purposefully, and with appropriate aggression or control, depending on what is required at that time. Intent means conscious thought as to how you approached the barbell and set yourself into position to perform a heavy (or light) deadlift. Where do you place your feet? Your hands? What is your breathing / tensioning strategy? What is your desired bar path / body proximity once you start pulling? How mentally aroused and aggressive do you need to be at this particular weight? These are just but a few thoughts that may run through your head when you shift your focus to moving with intent. Don’t simply go through the motions as you perform your warm-up and working sets; be present and concentrate on your execution in all phases of the lift so that you can steadily improve your technique, rep by rep.
Generally speaking, everyone that lifts wants to lift heavier weights over time. However, not everyone understands the intertwined nature of precise, flawless technique and lifting progressively heavier weights. One cannot exist without the other. This same concept applies to conditioning workouts as well – your ability to maintain a high output during a WOD is largely going to be determined by your efficiency in each individual movement component of said workout. Additionally, you cannot hope to achieve the full benefits of any exercise (the real benefit of training), if you don’t perform the exercise with the right intent. A couple examples: picking up a slam ball slowly, then passively dropping it to the ground using all arms on a ball slam vs. ripping the ball overhead fluidly, then slamming it into the ground like you are trying to crack a hard coconut on the ground. Burpees performed by collapsing on the floor, then sprawling back to your feet haphazardly vs. a controlled descent to the floor, hopping back to ones feet where they started, all the while occupying no more space than one would use to perform a push up. A kettlebell swing with excessive layback and soft knees vs. a swing that finishes with powerful hip extension, knees locked, torso vertical, arms long and kettlebell projected to chest height. While both examples may constitute a rep, they are not created equal.
The leaderboard is a great motivator and useful tool for gauging performance. However, a “fast” score that subjectively looked like a slow moving car crash from start to finish is not enviable, desirable, nor more impressive than a slower score performed within the margins of quality technique, executed with a sense of purposefulness. Always strive to move through full ranges of motion, rest when you cannot, and don’t forget that more isn’t always better, only better is better. Raise your personal standards for movement quality and always remember, the standard doesn’t get tired even if you are.