Despite what some believe, strength is NOT the goal with the movement training we do. Strength is a symptom ....a symptom of moving well. In a similar vein, speed training is not the optimal path toward improving our fitness. Improved fitness leads to improved speed potential. Speed is a product of moving well and improved fitness.
Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, Kurt and I believe the true value and benefit to movement based strength training resides in digging DEEPER into the basic skill and integration of a movement.
In this day and age, with athletes becoming bored so easily and instant gratification being so prevalent in every phase of our life and culture, digging deeper into a movement vs. moving "on" from the movement is often difficult (and even frustrating) for the individual athlete to fully embrace. We seem to frequently fall victim to the mindset of always looking for the next "great" exercise, the next great "tip," or how we can blast on to the more "advanced" stuff, thinking its a magic bullet to the success we seek.
Whether or not you like it, the truth is that the devil is in the details and the magic to optimal progression and exploding your potential is in true mastery of the basics and fundamentals. This single concept, while easy to read, might be the most challenging for the average person to accept and embrace, but it IS the key to long term, meaningful success.
So, yes, variety is greatly overrated. To reiterate, once the shiny newness of an exercise wears off and you’re “bored” with it because it's not “new” anymore, you’re forced to get deeper into it, or bail out and just move on to something else “new” and “exciting.” I’d argue the best choice is the former, not the latter.
Of course, that being said, there are a great many ways to enhance the quality (and thus results) of the training you are doing, rather than to change exercises. For example:
1. Use a slower rep speed.
- It’s common for folks to move in and out of movements quickly.
- It’s common to see folks come out of the bottom of a movement quickly, rather than “owning” that bottom portion.
- Use a count of 4 – 1 - 3 seconds: 4 seconds lowering – 1 second pause at the bottom – 3 seconds raising.
- Removing the ‘elastic’ or rebound component to better own each phase of the movement.
2. Decrease your leverage.
- Think about the HUGE difference in difficulty between a double arm push-up with a wide arm position, and a single arm push-up! Huge difference in leverage.
- On the topic of stability, a tiny difference in how wide your arms or knees are really changes how difficult the exercise is to do well!
3. Improve your focus and tension!
- Where’s the hard in your exercise coming from?
- From inside of you? Posture, breathing, focus?
- Or is it coming from OUTside of you? Are you thinking a different exercise, or more weight (outside of you) will automatically make you stronger? Not going to happen.
- We need to consciously PRODUCE that tension, even when moving a relatively small amount of weight.
- Focus, tension management, radiation of tension throughout!
- “Intensity” and “strength” isn’t just about moving more weight. Its about bringing a certain level of whole-body tension and focus into every movement.
- In RKC/HKC circles as well as in power lifting circles, there’s a saying: “If you make your lighter weights feel heavier, your heavier weights will feel lighter.” Practice the focus and tension skills with lighter resistance, you’ll get more benefit from every movement you do!