You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Carl Jung
This quote is certainly applicable to our every day lives, but today, let’s talk about it in terms of your own fitness training- namely, why you should do EVERY REP, EVERY TIME.
What is Your Score?
CrossFit has come up with an ingenious way of keeping many of us motivated to train often and train hard: keeping score? of our workouts.? At the end of a CrossFit WOD, you will generally have one of the following:
- A number of reps completed
- A time that the workout was completed in
- An amount of weight lifted
That way, I can compete against Karl, the accountant that trains at the same time as me.? We get to compete every single day together and, for some unknown reason, it feels just so good to get a few more reps than Karl on that day’s workout.
So every once in a while, I just go ahead and do 16 reps when I was supposed to do 20 in a round.? Or maybe I don’t quite squat all the way down.? Perhaps, if Karl has finished one movement and I see that, even if I’m not done, I’ll move on too.
Your score is NOT what you call out when the coach says, “Time”
At the end of the workout then, the coach asks both of us what we got.
Karl: “6 rounds + 4 reps”.
Me: “6 rounds + 12 reps”
Then I give Karl a fist bump and say “good job” when I really mean, “Better luck next time” Feels good!
But unfortunately, none of that is true.? I know, deep down inside, that I didn’t actually do what I said.? The score that is written on the board (or on your app) isn’t actually “Andy”. Instead, “it’s a worse version of Andy”.
It’s the version that didn’t have the character or willingness to struggle, to fail, to “lose” It’s the version that cared more about what other people think than who I am or who I am becoming.
Maybe it seems like I’m getting a little too “deep” into the competition side of a workout. After all, what difference does it really make if I did fewer reps or didn’t do the full reps of a movement once in a while?
But it’s only really “Me against Me”
Maybe you don’t care about winning. Perhaps you’re just on the beach and you said, “I’m going to do 4 rounds of 20 burpees, 20 squats, and 20 push-ups”.
Then, 2 rounds in, you realize, “Whoa, this is much harder than I thought! Why not make it 3 rounds?? Or only 10 reps of each?”
Because part of any fitness regimen is building MENTAL TOUGHNESS.? That’s the ability to keep going even when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to.? You do it simply because your mind is stronger than your body.
How you do ONE THING is how you Do Every Rep
“One reason people cheat a little bit is that we want to feel good about ourselves. We don’t think of ourselves as cheaters. We can cheat a little and still feel like a good person.”? Breaking Muscle, ‘The Psychology Behind Integrity…’
“How you do one thing is how you do everything.” -Unknown Author
As a CrossFit coach in Dubai Marina, I see this in action every single day. Once a person realizes that he/she can do fewer reps and get a better score, he/she starts to do that on every single workout, pretty much every single movement.
Often, it will lead to continuously worse movement patterns, simply in order to write down a heavier weight or faster time for that workout.
That’s why it’s so important not to give in to that temptation the first time it gets inside of you for the future.
And if you are willing to knowingly deceive others for a better score in a fairly meaningless situation, like beating Karl in a workout, how do you think that will translate to the more difficult decisions in the “real world”
Safety DOES matter, but your score doesn’t
There are absolutely situations when you shouldn’t do every rep or reduce weight in a workout. When you can’t meet the demand of the workout, you can’t move with integrity, the workout could be dangerous it’s important to adjust the requirements.
This could also be because the demand of the workout should be different than what you are able to achieve. The weight that you’ve chosen is too heavy for you to move as fast as you should.? So you don’t do every rep or less weight.
That’s fine, in fact, that’s what you SHOULD be doing!? Know your body, understand the demand of the workout (ask your coach if you don’t know) and scale the workout to appropriately get the most out of it.
That’s just training intelligently.
But you can’t then put your score on the board, just above Karl’s, and pretend you didn’t have to adjust the workout.? Did you meet the demands correctly? Karl was just a bit better today, And that’s a good thing.
The temptation is REAL
Trust me, I get it. I’m a competitive guy, I want to win workouts, no matter how much somebody might tell me it doesn’t matter.
I know it’s close between myself and somebody else I’m training with, there are 22 reps left and it would nearly be impossible to check, wouldn’t it be nice to do 15 reps instead of all 22?
But I need to re-assess if that’s the situation and my response is to cut the reps short. What kind of a “win” is that?? Andy didn’t win that workout, a fitter person with a stronger-mind won that workout, but it wasn’t me.
The wonderful, incredible and sometimes devastating thing about sports is that they are the great equalizer. The score represents who was better on that day, that’s why we keep score and we love sports.
We all need to respect that and accept our losses and our areas to improve. And if you are the type of person that doesn’t do every rep occasionally, don’t worry: Today is a new day!
You can be better than yesterday. So that you Do Every Rep, every time.
P.S.- You are not actually going unnoticed.? Everyone knows those that don’t do all the reps.? We? re all just too polite to say it. So you might as well do them all anyway!