Working Out With A Purpose
Deciding How to Modify a Workout to Achieve Your Fitness Goals
Before you continue reading this blog post, take 1-3 minutes, grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down your fitness goal(s). Now take that piece of paper and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
This post is not meant to be about goals, the best ways to set goals, or the best way to achieve your goals but rather being aware of your fitness goal(s) every time you step into the gym.
When it comes to the sport of fitness (CrossFit) we need to understand that like other forms of sport, it may not necessarily be healthy for our bodies at our current stage of life. While one may need to be in impeccable physical shape to compete at the highest level of a sport, it does not mean that the act of competing or training for that sport is the model of health and well-being.
It is important to remember that training for a sport needs to be specific to what your goals are for that said sport, and to achieve your best performance at your sport may mean that you sacrifice well rounded fitness and well-being.
I will continue by using four examples and four different goals:
1. Someone training for an Olympic Weightlifting Meet
2. Someone training for a marathon
3. Someone looking to be more competitive in the CrossFit Open
4. Someone trying to lose weight/body fat and gain muscle to look better in a swimsuit, and be an overall healthier person
For the person training for Olympic Weightlifting…
They will either need to gain weight or lose weight in order to be at the top of their specific weight class. This means that there may be some technically unhealthy decisions that would need to be made to achieve that specific weight. Additionally, this person’s sole goal is to lift as much weight in the snatch and the clean and jerk as possible, so it does not make sense for them to run 10 miles on the weekend and then come into the gym with tight hips and ankles and expect to snatch well. Does this mean that running is not healthy? No. But it does mean that it is not helping this person progress towards their goal.
For the person training for a marathon…
They will likely need to run a few long distance (15+ mile) training runs leading up to their race. Does this mean that logging 80+ miles a week is healthy? No, but it is helping this individual achieve their goal of running their fastest marathon time possible. Similarly, does it make sense for this person to come into the gym daily or multiple times a week and concern themselves with find a 1RM back squat? No. This would take away from their next training run. Does this mean that lifting heavy weights is not healthy? No. But it should be avoided because it would lead to a less effective run the next day from legs being sore and tired.
For the person competing in CrossFit…
Let’s now look at the person who is competitive by nature and has decided to compete in the 2019 CrossFit Open with the goal of completing the workouts “Rx’ed”. This person needs to be well rounded in conditioning, gymnastics, moderately heavy barbell cycling and Olympic lifts. This person needs to be able to do a bar muscle up, a ring muscle up, a handstand walk, handstand push ups, chest to bar pull ups and other technical movements. As a result of their goal, every time this individual comes into a class at UAC they need to be making an effort to improve on their technical skills by PRACTICING their gymnastics skills, and by using a slightly heavier barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell. Does this mean that because this person can do a ring muscle up or a handstand push up that they are “fitter” or “healthier” than someone who cannot? No. These are technical movements that this person is concerned with so that they can achieve their goal, in no way are these movements a litmus test for fitness.
For the person looking for overall health…
Finally, lets take the person that wants to be overall healthier, improve their bodies longevity, look better in a swimsuit, have fun, and enjoy the UAC community. Does this person need to be concerned with the same technical movements that someone training for the CrossFit Open does? Absolutely not.
As mentioned above, your marathon time, a 1RM back squat, a ring muscle up, a hand stand walk, a 1RM snatch, or any technical movement are not a litmus test for health, wellbeing and fitness.
However, a good balance between moderate to heavy lifts, core work (with the option of scaling up to skill based gymnastics movements), and cardiovascular based metabolic conditioning workouts coupled with a healthy diet is the path towards physical longevity, overall health, fat loss, muscle gain and thus looking better in a bathing suit.
In classes at UAC we will never program for one goal in mind. We do our best to program so that anyone with any fitness goal in mind can attend a class and progress in a healthy manner towards whatever their goal may be.
Keep in mind when you are deciding how to scale your workout that just because someone decides to use a heavier bar, or decides to do toes to bar instead of v-ups does not mean that that person is achieve a better workout than someone not doing that weight or that movement but rather that that person is working towards achieving a goal that is different than yours.
This goes the opposite direction as well, if your goal is not to compete in an olympic lifting meet, do not diminish the effectiveness of your skill days by trying to use a weight that you cannot move well. Likewise, do not use a barbell in a metcon or a gymnastics movement in a metcon that will slow you down considerably and take away from the intended stimulus if your goal is not to compete in the CrossFit Open or another for of competition.
With all of this being said, it is important to set fitness goals but is also important to come into class every day with these fitness goals in mind and to not let other people in class distract you from what your goals are.
If you have questions about the best way to scale a workout to best achieve your fitness goal, ask a coach.
Disclaimer: The ideas, thoughts, and suggestions detailed in this blog post and subsequent blog posts are the ideas, thoughts, and suggestions of Matt Moosavian and are not necessarily reflective of Urban Athletic Club as a whole, or the UAC staff individually. More Blog Posts.