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A Shift in Workout Philosophy

There is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Thanks to my purchase of Becoming a Supple Leopard and Mario’s purchase of Convict Conditioning, I’ve really been questioning how we work out. I love to work out, but I’m not sure my workout philosophy has always been the best. What I’ve noticed is that we are so obsessed about the reps, sets, and pace that we have a real disregard for form, range of motion, and a solid, strong, foundation. Allow me to explain…

I haven’t read any of Convict Conditioning yet, but Mario gave be a great summary about the push up that I’d like to share. In the book, which is based on calisthenics, the author goes through a 10 step progression for exercises such as the push up and pull up. The author describes two very different people and their experience with the progression. One who decides steps 1-4 of the push up progression are too easy so he starts with step 5, and another who starts from step 1 and works his way up. What happens? Well the guy who started at step 5, because he lacked a solid foundation and had underdeveloped smaller muscle groups,  constantly battled injury and never made it to step 10. The other guy, who started with step 1, successfully progressed to one arm push ups while being completely injury free. Why? Because he had the strength and range of motion other guy lacked.

Why is this important? A few weeks ago I went to a very intense workout class. It’s the workout class that’s about intervals and intensity, which I absolutely love. However, because of the things I’ve been reading lately, I noticed how the emphasis was more on speed and reps than correct form. Perhaps for 1 workout, it isn’t that detrimental to your body. However, over time, doesn’t that reinforce bad habits? When the goal is to do as much push ups possible in 1 minute, how many people are honestly going to keep good form? Exactly.

I think another reason that this has been on my mind lately is because I’m really evaluating my body, my form, and my workout philosophy. In the past, I’d always be the first to sacrifice form for pace. 5K PR with weak hips, sure! But it always gets me the same result. Some great workout times that I can reminisce about while sitting on the injured list.   It’s actually pretty lame.

My focus is shifting more towards calisthenics. It’s going to be a long process to get to where I want to be, but that’s okay. When I think about what strong means and what it means to have complete functional use of your body, nothing represents that more than these people…


And of course, I absolutely love everything Al Kavadlo does. He’s always so happy and an awesome resource for anything calisthenics related!

al squat

Happy Trails and  Happy Running,



Running Update: The Chicago Marathon is in less than 3 weeks. I’m severely undertrained but am completely okay with that fact. I’m going to look at this as a fun run through a great city. I already received my Boston confirmation so I’ll save my energies for that race. 🙂

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I don’t think you could underestimate the importance of functional strength — in anything. I think our bodies are generally happier (whether we compete in sports or not) when they are being used, exercised, and we have a relative sense of functional strength. I notice (with anything) that if you do too much of the same thing, our bodies break down. Having functional strength supports our bodies when we do/overdo an activity that we love.
    I often think of the men & women who do manual labour (farmers, etc) and how much of their day used and increased their functional strength. No need to go the gym when you are churning butter by hand and heaving hay bales around. 🙂

    September 25, 2013
  2. MikeW #

    I think I can imagine a name for this:

    Looks like Parkour on bars. Barkour?

    September 25, 2013

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