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DOING THE COMMON UNCOMMONLY WELL

Date: 21st December 2018
Author: Mark Wood
Tags: Fitness

These days it seems everyone is trying to out do each other and create the new best product through innovation, but what is innovation? Many definitions exist for this word that quite possibly gets abused and overused. The best definition I have heard is the following: Innovation is significant positive change. It is a very high bar, and it should be. However, have we taken this too far and do we truly understand the meaning of this word?

One of the biggest mistakes I see newly qualified trainers and coaches make is their perception of innovation, or their want to impress. I am not sure what their reasons are for this, nor am I here to judge that. However, with the amount of social media exposure and ‘celebrity trainers’ around it is very easy to become sucked into this side of our industry, especially if you are newly qualified. This in turn, confuses members of the public and their clients and ultimately ends up in paying customers not achieving the results they are looking for all because trainers are trying to follow some new trendy way to to train with little understanding of its practical application. 

Picture this. You are a new member who has just started your fitness journey in a new gym. You enter the gym for the first time to find hundreds of pieces of equipment, many of which are either kitted with technology you have no idea how to use or resemble something that you would expect to see in a torture chamber. This could quite easily and often does equal a disaster. I mean, where do you start? 

Personally, I believe this is where a lot of exercisers go wrong. Time and time again I see trainers and clients alike chucking everything and anything into one session. This completely negates everything we know and understand about programming and planning. I witness poorly designed sessions, poor exercise choices, little to no rationale for anything happening in the session, yet it apparently looks good, is possibly challenging and Instagram told you it was a good exercise for your six pack, so it has to work, right? All of the above might be true, but trust me, it’s a slippery slope downhill from there. How long will you be able to maintain throwing in new exercises, new ways to train, new ways to make it funky without your sessions looking like they belong in a circus? Also; will you actually gain any benefit and adaptations from this at all?

A more sensible, more sustainable and generally a better approach would be taking some advice from American entrepreneur Henry J. Heinz, who stated “to do a common thing uncommonly well brings success”. Let’s face it, how many members of the public move well, squat well and stabilise well, yet are happy to perform exercises which quite frankly do absolutely nothing to better their health or performance. Maybe this comes from the fact the fitness industry is in an ego driven industry and no one seems to care about their clients anymore, but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Every single client is taught, or should be taught the benefits that good quality strength training has not only on performance, but to their lives and health, but how many times do you walk into a gym and see either trainers or clients squatting well? From my experience, not very often. Ask yourself this: Do you squat? Lunge well? Press well? Pull well? These are fundamental patterns which we should be strong in and able to move through well. However, I either don’t see these being performed, or I see them being performed badly. If you don’t have these prescribed by your trainer in your sessions because you or they think they are boring and in turn won’t find your sessions interesting then you probably need to find a new trainer with a better understanding of why you are there in the first place. And how to maintain your interest whilst also improving your posture, health and performance, regardless of what other goals you want to achieve. There are many ways in which you can manipulate variables to get results so that you improve, but at the same time can perform the basics well. Consider the following; 

  • Tempo 
  • Intensity 
  • Rest periods 
  • Equipment
  • Sets & reps.

All the above can be used to help you improve depending on what your goal is. Don’t get sucked into the media and the limelight. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and create exercises which you think look good, but have very little use to anyone or anything. If you don’t believe me, how often do you hear or see others becoming very easily impressed when they observe a good quality squat? Think about it though, it’s a squat, something that we should be able to perform without thinking, something that should be ingrained into how we move, yet people become impressed with it because it’s uncommon for someone to able to perform something so common incredibly well.

Keep your head down, work hard, focus on the basics and perform those common things uncommonly well.

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