“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” – Will Durant
The last stop in our walk along the circular Five T path is Trademark (or, if you prefer, basecamp). Essentially, this is knowing who you are, how you’re wired, and what you’re good at. Endomorph? Ectomorph? Mesomorph? Or (more likely) some combination thereof? Power athlete or Ever Ready endurance bunny? We all tend toward some direction here. The key is to find that direction and exploit it. But we also need to be mindful to know what we suck at, so that we can armor that weak underbelly. Because in doing so, we’ll become even better at our natural inclination. It’s a hackneyed phrase, but all to true — we’re only as good as our weakest link.
But I think it’s pretty safe to say that, across the board, everyone — no matter how they’re wired — could better themselves in a physical sense by becoming stronger. And, too, work capacity is something you could never have too much of.
A quick aside: from what I’ve seen, work capacity (or lack thereof) is where the HIT Jedis really miss the boat. Workout frequency is a function of recuperative ability (and intensity, of course), which is positively effected by increasing levels of work capacity. The problem is that building serious work capacity takes time, and time is something that these folks are either unwilling or unable to part with. I get that, and I’m not here to cast judgement on anyone’s priorities. But to claim that everyone needs 7 to 10 days off between workouts to fully recover, or that more frequent workout are either unhealthy or unproductive, is simply not true. This is no more than an indication that one’s work capacity is lacking. Louie Simmons likes to say that the base of the performance pyramid is made of strength and work capacity, and on this note he is exactly right. And in my mind (but to a lesser degree), strength and work capacity also form the base of the health pyramid.
But again, and as covered in the Time portion of the Five T’s, you’ll have to pick your battles wisely. Being a professional athlete is one thing. Your job 24/7 is to be just that — an athlete. And this is something that I still struggle with. Prioritization is tough for me, even now, because I do remember oh so fondly when it was my job (for sure in college, and to a slightly lesser extent, in the military) to be the best athlete possible. Ok, so I was supposed to be a good student as well, but let’s face it — the priority was on being the best athlete possible. Most of us are slaves to another grind, though, and don’t have unlimited time to spare (hence our Efficient Exercise HIIRT protocol). Nor do we have unlimited recuperative ability or a sky-high work capacity. Just as in coaching exercise technique, we have to pick the most glaring error and concentrate on mixing that — while not letting the “corrected” stuff degrade.
Toward that end, I don’t mind stealing a few riffs from Louie Simmons and the boys at Westside, and conjugate my own training, and that of my clients. And no matter what your particular trademark is, you should too. Just my opinion — but hey, it is my blog, right? 😉
So we need to mix things up. Max effort and dynamic stuff. Bodybuilding, conditioning and, if need be, skill work. Exercises and modalities we don’t particularly care for. Because the real danger is doing, over-and-over again, the things you are good at. What’s the danger in that, you ask? Biological accommodation, kids. Which means you’ll eventually stall, and even backslide. You have to learn to train around your strong suit and through your weaknesses.
I’ll use myself as an example. My trump card has always been work capacity, recuperative ability, and strength and power endurance. I’ve said before that I’m never the strongest in the group, nor the fastest, but that I can maintain at a pretty high level of both qualities, without dropping off the map, for a long period time. This, together with “nose for the ball”, made me a fairly respectable strong safety. If I were a fighter, I’d just wear-out the strong/explosive types, and over-power the endurance guy in the later rounds. Work capacity is something that I love to train. Prowler pushing, farmers walks, repeat sprints, repeat strength and/or power bursts at 75 – 85% 1RM? Yeah, all friggin’ day long. That’s right smack-dab in my wheelhouse. But what I lack is (primarily) absolute strength, and (secondarily) instantaneous, explosiveness. These are the two areas I need to train through. And I don’t always do it because I don’t have a coach forcing me to do the things I don’t particularly like doing because I’m not good at them. And, I can use the excuse that I’m no longer competing, so WTF? Why not do what I enjoy doing now? Things that I’m good at?
But because it’s not my trademark is all the more reason why I ought to put an emphasis on training those qualities.
Something to think about.
In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –