Now before we get into the thick of this, I want to explain that one of the biggest shifts in mentality I’ve had recently is that more isn’t more. Past Craig, as recently as 18 months ago, was the “Hail Mary” lifter; the type of guy to miss a PR attempt, and throw 5 more pounds on because “if you lose it behind it counts”. He was the go big or go home guy; the exact person I’m talking about in this post.
Thankfully, I’m a little wiser now, a little stronger, and whole lot less injured. In the pursuit of better understanding of performance within strength and conditioning, I’ve learned that more isn’t always more, but better is more. This seems like a no-brainer, but allow me to elaborate.
Every time you miss a rep, you practice failing. Every missed clean, every failed muscle up, every time you tumble from your handstand walk, you are practicing to fail at that movement. Be it because you’ve gone too heavy, you’ve done too much and are operating under fatigue, or you do not yet posses the skill level to complete said rep correctly. Every single rep you attempt is an opportunity to improve, every missed rep is an opportunity wasted.
Bold statement, but hear me out.
Let’s use the snatch as an example and say that, during training sessions, you hit 100% of your snatch attempts. Mostly, you stay below 85% of your 1 rep max, but you occasionally go heavier if you can do so with good technique; as soon as it waivers, you back off because you want to execute with near perfect technique day in day out.
Come game day, what are your chances of executing a perfect lift? Fairly high, I’m sure you’d agree.
Compare that to your “big risk big reward” lifting buddy who frequently builds up to 95% or heavier. Only half of the attempts are successful, half of those are done with good technique, and the rest scare the shit out of you.
What are their chances of executing a perfect lift? 50/50 at best?
I’ll use another example: In your entire life you’ve done a total of 10 muscle ups. All are singles and it took you over 30 attempts. Your Coach programs a long nasty chipper, which ends with 10 muscle ups, or a scaled option of 20 C2B pull ups. In this environment, what is the most likely outcome if the athlete is hell bent on hitting this workout RX?
A) 10 perfect muscle ups?
B) 5 muscle ups in 10 attempts and some C2Bs?
C) 3 messy muscle ups in 10 attempts, ripped hands and a funky shoulder for the rest of the week?
If you’ve practiced failing, your chance of success when you need it is considerably lower.
I’m definitely not trying to discourage you from working towards ambitious goals. My point here is simple: just be patient while you’re working towards them. We need to realise that if we try to run before we can walk, we skip vital developmental steps, and don’t do ourselves any favours in the long term. Yes, if you threw yourself at a pull up bar enough times you will eventually get over it, but I’m confident that if you instead spent your attempts hollow-rocking, ring-rowing and chest-to-barring your way towards a muscle up, you’ll not only look better doing it, but you’ll end up with far more muscle ups and you won’t tear your pec. Winning.
Spend more time lifting weights you know you can make, properly, and slowly build without compromise. Accumulate more reps of the less sexy stuff and build a stronger base of integrity; ring rows are far more conducive to performing muscle ups than failed muscle ups are.