Can You Do It Well?


Frequently people will ask me what I do in the middle of the day during down hours when there are less members in the gym.  Generally I eat, train, answer emails, write this blog, etc.  Some days Max and I chit chat like little schools girls and oftentimes it’s about, well, training.

Recently we were talking about different ways to condition at the end of a training session. And in particular, squats.  We don’t often use squats at the end of a training session but sometimes we do.  As such, Max so eloquently boiled down the squat question and any other conditioning related to, “Can you do it well?”

Bad Push Up Form

Is this oversimplifying things? Perhaps.  Obviously we could come up with a variety of different scenarios and reasons why this person needs to do that or shouldn’t be involved with that because of this.  But, in an effort to simply things just think, “Can (I, he or she) do it well?”  It’s a pretty easy but effective guideline to follow.

Taking that thought process to the next level consider whether the movement(s) has a high skill requirement.  If the answer is yes then it is unlikely that it should be used in a conditioning scenario.  If the answer is no then it’s likely an ok or at least safe choice.  Here are a few examples we discussed.  Squatting with a relatively light kettlebell or 2 for higher reps is not a high skill movement for me.  However, just squatting in general, with even bodyweight can be difficult for some other people.  For them it may demand a lot more focus or skill and therefore should be practiced earlier in the training session when still fresh. Need another example?  Max is highly skilled at hand balancing, meaning he could walk across the room on his hands, do several handstand push ups and hold a handstand for a relatively long time.  Whereas I can barely hold a handstand at all, in any fashion.  It is possible that Max could do some handstand walking the end of his training session as part of some endurance and/or conditioning, possibly combined with something else.  If I were to attempt the same thing it would be rather unsafe and likely build faulty movement patterns, bad habits, or in other words, I would get “really good” at doing them bad, if you can follow what I’m saying here.

Think about it the next time you want you or your client to do something difficult or challenging at the end of a training session.  Is this a high skill movement for me, or my client?  Sprint intervals on the bike?  Low skill requirement for anyone.  Go for it.  100 burpees for time?  Aside from the fact that it’s masochistic, ask yourself, “Can you do it well?”  There are some people that could.  Most not so much, in which case, bad choice.  Try something else.

– Mike Baltren