The Jungle

Getting the most out of your training

Understanding the “WHY” of CrossFit training and Oly Lifting
THE JUNGLE – a 2POOD Performance blog

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“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” -William Barclay

I’d like to preface today’s simple bit of stimulating guidance with a perfect example of the kind of situations we’re trying to avoid. I’ll make it brief.

True story: I was once told -by a coach I’d known less than a week, and then only outside of a gym setting- that I should eat more fat. Mind you, this individual, certified and paid to teach people how to exercise and be healthier, had no idea what kind of athlete I was. She had no idea if I was a swimmer, weightlifter, crossfitter, or dancer. (Okay, she had probably ruled out dancer.) She had no idea how much fat I ate in a day already, she had no idea how my body reacts to different levels of macros, she had no idea what my goals are. Yet here she was, making the suggestion that my diet was not optimal.

Now to the issue at hand:
we, as crossfitters, all too often spend entirely too much time doing things without really knowing why we’re doing them. We’re told how to do them, sure, but the questions “Why?” and “For what purpose?” and “What’s the goal?” are far too scarce in many affiliate environments that I’ve observed.

Being told something, hearing it, reading it, does not mean that you fully understand it. It doesn’t mean that you know how to apply the knowledge. In order to modify, extrapolate, institute, explain, USE knowledge, you need to master it. You need a full understanding of it’s nuances and motivations and effects before this knowledge turns into wisdom.

Far too few coaches are concerned about wisdom. Entirely too much emphasis is placed on knowledge- memorizing facts and regurgitating cues and cute quotes and points of performance. Any athlete can pick up a book and learn these things- it’s up to a coach to provide the experience-born wisdom that can place these facts into a beneficial program, session, or correction. It’s up to a coach to explain to the athlete why everything the coach says is important, what its purpose is. Words carry weight, and shouldn’t be thrown around lightly- especially when an athlete is paying to hear those words.

I personally make it a point to ask my coach about the desired benefit from every new movement or subtle change in programming. Does this annoy him? Not at all- he is a good coach. He has reasons for his methods, he stands behind them, and is more than willing to explain them. This saves us a lot of trouble down the road by stopping bad habits before they start, and eliminates countless hours of potentially wasted time. Athletes- I highly recommend you take this approach. Make sure you understand everything your coaches tell you, and its purpose. Otherwise, you’re just a rat in a wheel- running nowhere because you were told to.

Coaches: if you tell someone to do something, you’d better damn well know why. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Back to the original story: this situation is precisely what happens when a coach doesn’t ask “Why?” to a snippet of advice they picked up from some other circumstance and applies it to be true everywhere without understanding why the piece of advice was given in the first place. Obviously, I knew it to be false, but what if I didn’t? What if I blindly accepted the coach’s word as truth, and instituted the change?

Be wise, my friends. Broad in knowledge, but deep in understanding.

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