“It doesn’t have to be hard. It just has to be good.” I recently heard Mike Boyle say this on a training podcast and it got the hamster wheel really turning inside my head. Now this certainly this isn’t a new concept within the walls of Ambition Athletics. After all, right by the door phrases such as “80%, Quality over Quantity and Make It Look Easy” are listed on the wall. However, my eyes still tell me that much of the world has not yet embraced this line of thinking. So, what does just “good” instead of “hard” mean in the world of training, performance and fat loss? Here’s what I think.
First off, when it comes to movement, crap is crap. Let’s no sugarcoat this. Practicing crap movement will result in more crap movement. Being an exhausted pile of crappy movement is not better than being a somewhat rested pile of slightly better movement. If you can’t do something well and I mean own it, then find a way to make it better. Remove some of the pounds because it’s too heavy or find a regression for that movement so that you can do it successfully. Certainly there is no change without challenging yourself but there’s a difference between making it look easy and making it look like a struggle. Strive for the former.
This also applies to the design of the workout as well. Just because it was super hard and you almost lost your lunch, does not mean that it was necessarily of benefit. More effort doesn’t equate to more results. This can be very foreign concept to many. Often the mindset is that more is better. Followed by more and yet still more. “Try harder”, although amusing to say, is not a good training strategy. However, little and often over the long haul as Dan John says is a way to get more. Let’s not forget that training is stress. Life brings about other stressors. Stress on stress on stress does not equal #gainz bro. Judge not a training session solely on if you were able to crush yourself (making it hard) vs. did you train the qualities that you wished to train with some intention and vigor (aka making it good, as our article title states). If the training demands true focus on details, precision, etc. and perhaps the most importantly consistency, then I believe there is much benefit, not simply harder equals better. HERE is a recent article from Charlie Weingroff discussing what many may find as an entirely new concept, Lowest System Load. Charlie as much as anyone seems to be an advocate for good, quality training as opposed to that which is simply hard for the sake of being hard, or that which is done poorly in an effort to add weight to the bar.
This little gem circulated the interwebs recently. I have no doubt what your see in the video is hard, but I cannot be convinced that it is any good (aka, value equates to zero). In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s idiotic.
Obviously we need hard work to get results but hard needs to be relative. Challenging, uncomfortable, precise, powerful and high quality are all components of getting results as well and should be held as higher priorities than that which is simply hard.
– Mike Baltren