Early football season during my senior year of high school we met a very challenging out of conference opponent. We were coming off a big win the week before so we were confident when we began practice Monday. Our confidence rose when our coaching staff went over our defensive scheme for Friday night. They walked us through the six bread and butter plays this team would run on over 95% of their downs.
Six. That’s it.
We thought we had this one in the bag; we were wrong.
That Friday night they politely handed us our asses and made us wear them as a hat. I remeber walking off the field thinking; “how the hell did that happen, they only ran 6 plays!”
Our coaches attempted to warn us about all week was that they ran their six staple plays almost flawlessly every time. A valuable lesson we failed to hear.
They had found great success in not trying to do a hundred different offensive schemes but to become amazing at executing their basic package. No flash, no trickery, just simple execution. They made the decision to be a Master of a few traits instead of a Jack of many.
The power of this strategy is that by dialing in their focus they were able to spend valuable practice time in execution. Most teams were off trying to learn new plays and formations every practice where they spent the time learning how to execute their six plays with maximum effectiveness in any situation.
In fitness the focus seems to be on becoming the Jack instead of the Master.
We spend excessive amounts seeking new pieces of equipment in a never ending quest to build an warehouse sized exercise library. Searching for & experimenting with new exercises, variations, workouts in a never ending quest for quantity and variety.
The key to obtaining results in fitness and performance is not exercises but execution.
The exercise alone will not cause success; how it is performed will lead to results.
Say you pick a really cool new variation of a row to build your clients back. During that exercise they keep elevating their shoulders causing them to rely on elbows and writs too much. This takes the lats out of the movement greatly causing them to remain underdeveloped. No matter how great the exercise is on paper it will not help the client move forward because the wrong “area” is being challenged. If an exercise in not executed properly the intended purpose is lost. When purpose is lost the exercise becomes ineffective.
How can we expect clients to learn how to do it right and make it effective if we keep throwing new exercises at them?
I am all for exploration and innovation. Never stop learning, growing and discovering. We know so little about human movement & performance; searching and testing new ideas is an imperative part of giving our industry the tools to make an impact on mankind. I also believe you should learn to use and leverage the tools & resources you already have before attempting to add to your repertoire.
Purposeful practice and repetition lead to mastery. For practice to be purposeful it must be correctly executed under a watchful and corrective eye. Once the skill is developed it has to be repeated & repeated & repeated (you get the idea). Choosing great exercises in important but without great execution they become ineffective and often useless.
Spend less time focusing on building a massive exercise library. Put the work where it matters most. Invest in execution and see performance dividends a plenty in your clients and athletes.