We Talkin' About Practice

by Rob on December 16th, 2015

Number of times Allen Iverson says the word "practice" in this video... twenty-five.
John Welbourn once told me, "when the bullets start flying EVERYONE drops to their level of training."  

Another way of saying this is "when the clock starts running or the weights get heavy, the body gets tired, and the fight or flight response kicks in, every athlete starts moving the way they always move... in training... in warm-ups... in PRACTICE... in everyday life."  No one ever starts "rising to the occasion" and miraculously looking perfect, as if all they ever needed to move well was simply the pressure of intensity and/or heavier loads.

In thousands of hours of coaching I can tell you that this is one of the truest concepts of training.  We see it all the time, day after day.  The athlete who moves well in warm-ups, and has put the work in on doing just that, generally moves well in workouts, in strength sessions, and in competition (even if that "competition" is simply life).  The lifter who looks sharp and precise with the empty bar usually looks pretty damn good with heavy loads.  Alternatively, the guy or gal who consistently goes through the motions and lazily moves their body until things get heavy or hard usually has a tough time holding position when things become just that... heavy or hard.  Sometimes said athlete thinks, "well the people who look good in warm-ups and with low weights are just lucky... they're born that way and they're just really flexible/mobile/short/tall/etc."  In some cases there can be truth in that statement, but in most I would argue that those people have worked really damn hard to be able to put their bodies in the right positions.  But since fixing movement with little or no load isn't glamorous, and can be crushing to the athlete's ego and patience, most who aren't good at it chalk it up to "I'm just not built that way, and I need some more weight to make it look and feel better."  Not true.  You "need some more weight" to make it look passable... until of course the weight is heavy enough, or the workout hard enough, that passable can no longer complete the task.  Then he/she usually enters one of two cities - Miss-ville (the land of a thousand misses) OR Snap City (sometimes referred to as Sketch City or "holy crap I hope no one was watching that").  Very strong athletes who are also very limited in their mobility can likely identify with that situation (although they're not the only ones in this boat) - it feels hard with little to no weight, then it feels fine with moderate loading, then it just gets frustratingly impossible at heavier loads which are still well under his/her perceived maximum potential. 

I don't think Dr. Dave or Charles (two of our members at Arena Ready) would ever consider themselves in the same mobility/flexibility/position sphere as Kate F.Sq. - in fact I think both would freely admit that certain elements of position are extremely challenging for them, and have been for some time.  But both of them have worked hard to get better posturally and positionally over the last couple of years, and as a coach who has had the pleasure of watching their progress I can say that their efforts have made a huge difference - in their lifts, in their workouts, and in their general day-to-day movement (some might call that "daily life"). 
Here's Dr. Dave with a recent PR deadlift at 315 lbs. 
Here's Charles with a recent PR at 305 lbs.
Perfect?  No.  Pretty damn good though?  Yes.  And a hell of a lot better than it was 6, 12, 18 months ago. You might watch that and say "well those guys had a lot left in the tank for more!"... and I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you.  But on that day, for that lift, the bar was MUCH heavier than either of them had ever lifted in their lives before (i.e. "the bullets were definitely flying"), and yet that's what it looked like (pretty damn good) in the above videos.  In a few weeks or months when the bar is even heavier I would be willing to bet it will look about the same, if not slightly better, and with a few more plates on each side - and many will still think "damn, those guys had a lot left in the tank for more!"

And perhaps, on that day to come, I'll still agree that in fact they did.  But the next day Charles will be playing with his kids or going for a run, and Dave will be in the ER treating patients and not at home treating his own tweaked back.

So yeah.  We talkin' about practice.‚Äč

And just for fun, here's Kate F.Sq. with a PR of 255 lbs at roughly 105 lbs bodyweight.

WOD for 12-17-15:

1 Squat Snatch + 2 Overhead Squats:
5 Sets of (1+2)


For Time:
21 Overhead Squats @ 115/75 lbs
9 Bar Muscle-ups
15 Overhead Squats
15 Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups
9 Overhead Squats
21 Pull-ups

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