The Progressing In Your Fitness Paradox

fitness paradox

We all know what a paradox is…. So I’ll save attempting to define it.

fitness paradox

But a Fitness Paradox you say… Yes, this is something I have seen over the years and thought it important enough to bring up in blog format, so let’s get after it.

Do you have the ability to come in 1 day, sweat like crazy, see how hard you can workout and slay dragons? (Work Capacity)

I already know the answer to this. Yes, of course you do. I’ve seen this across every face that has stepped foot in our gym.

On the flip side of this, can you come in the gym, sweat just a little, think about your posture, burn little calories, work on your technique and skill development and “plant flowers”? (Technique)

This is the paradox that everyone must have the ability to navigate in order to create a broader range of fitness.

For example:
You can bike 1 mile as fast as you can, but you can’t do an air squat with your butt below your knees because you are so tight.

You would benefit more in the long term if you focussed on planting flowers and working on your mobility. Being able to perform a deep weighted squat will improve your strength which will improve your work capacity on the bike meaning you improve long term.

Another example:
We have hollow rocks for a minute in the workout, but you are more focussed on working hard for the minute so you do the bent knee version and never challenge yourself.

You would benefit more in the long term if you focussed on doing a full hollow rock perfectly for a very short time, as this will unlock more exercises for you. Even if it is for 5 secs. It benefits you to feel the movement and know where you need to go to get there.

Another example:
Your knees hurt but you still do the workouts that hurt your knees.

You would benefit more from modifying the movement, working around it and figuring out why your knees hurt. (Most likely it’s a range of motion issue at your ankles and/or your hips). You should come in early or stay late and work on focussed mobility. Any movement involving your knees that brings about pain should be done with no weight or very light weight with the utmost concentration to see if you can perform the movement pain free.

Another example:
Your shoulder hurts, but you still do bench press when it’s programmed because you know… it’s bench press!
fitness paradox, langley gym
Sorry Derek(s).. I did not make this meme, but you are both great at bench pressing!

Back to my point:
You would benefit more by feeling good position with another exercise that doesn’t hurt your shoulder, while working on your mobility to prevent pain in the future when doing movements like the bench press.

Another example:
Tuesday’s workout this month…
You do a chinup lockoff for 20 secs which will help build top end pulling strength for you. However, you are upset because you’re not doing anything for the 2:30 min after this…. 🙁

You would benefit most from working on your mindset. You aren’t getting stronger if you are constantly trying to max out your calorie burn or short your rest. In order to get stronger, you need to do repeated sets (5+ of the movement you want to improve with enough rest between sets to re-energize your ATP-CP system. Strength requires rest and maturity, and thought process, and if you truly push yourself your hardest in something for 20 secs, you should feel like you need 2:30 min rest..

This makes me want to tap the sign/image below…

langley bootcamp, gym, fitness, hierarchy of fitness

Everything begins with mindset.

Maybe this should be bolder…


Another example:
You can’t do a full range pushup or handstand pushup but keep trying to do them because they are in the workout at the fitness or befit level.

You don’t have the prerequisite strength yet to do these exercises and are most likely creating a muscle compensation/imbalance with the wrong muscles getting involved in the movement (think traps… yikes!) Ask our experienced coaches for a modification. It may be as simple as splitting the work and doing a pushup hold at the bottom for 10 secs and then working on some elevated pushups during the workout. It may be doing a handstand hold for 20 secs and working on some box elevated hspu…

Life is about balance. Fitness is about balance.

This brings us to actually defining fitness.

The 10 general skills of fitness are:

1 – Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance
The maximum amount of time that a given group of muscles can perform a certain action. Think of rowing for an hour… yikes!

2 – Stamina
The amount of time that a given muscle or group of muscles can perform at maximum capacity. Think of 2 people with equal strength doing 50lb bicep curls for as many reps as they can. One person gets 8 reps, the other gets 15 reps. That person has more stamina.

3 – Strength
The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force. How much can you bench???
strength, bench press, fitness

4 – Flexibility
The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint. Typically the most neglected thing in the gym. 🙁

These first 4 elements are enhanced via training. These are the elements that most people think of when they come to the gym daily…. But this is just 40% of your fitness…

5 – Power
The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time. Think of the equation:

Force (Weight) x Distance

Applying this principle:
In many workouts, you would create more power by going lighter with the weight and moving faster with more technicality and efficiency. For example, if you can do 10 thrusters with 95lbs in 1 minute, you are doing 950lbs of work in 1 minute. Conversely, if you can do 15 thruster with 75lbs in 1 minute, you are doing 1125lbs of work in 1 minute. For you Physics majors:

Work = Force x Distance
Power = Work / Time

6 – Speed
The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

These 2 elements are enhanced by both training and practice (think about movements like power cleans or push press). The more you practice, the faster and more efficient you get as you are helping to build a better mind body connection.

7 – Coordination
The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8 – Agility
The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9 – Balance
The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10 – Accuracy
The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

These 4 elements are improved by practice. They are neurological and are optimized by building your brain to body connection (think about double unders or skipping). They are improved not by practice, but thoughtful and purposeful practice. Over the years, I get lots of people telling me that have no coordination, and that’s ok… It’s because you haven’t practiced it enough to have coordination… That’s all. Practice it in 1 leg deadlifts or whatever the movement and you will get better!

Where are you weak in the 10 skills above? Where can you improve the most? That will move the needle most for you in your fitness in the next month.

Let us know how we can help and we can get after it together.

Committed to your success,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS