Written by: Coach Seth
If you would like to improve your performance, my advice to you would be to do less, but better…not more! I see this happen a lot: Someone is brand new to the gym and they make huge gains in performance extremely fast! Then that starts to slow down and they instantly think “I need to do more, to get more results”. More exercise does not always equal more results. BETTER exercise= more results. This is called virtuosity, doing the common thing uncommonly well.
Experts in anything all have one thing in common, they have MASTERED the basics. This is the boring and unsexy truth about how you get good and then great at anything (fitness included). Revisiting the basics over and over and over again with intentionality. And once you feel as though you have mastered the basics, go back through and find the 1% way to improve it again! The opposite of this would be breezing through the basics or warm-up sets and trying to get to a more advanced or heavier version of a movement or workout too quickly. You will inevitably hit a ceiling very quickly and be forced to go back and master the basics to improve!
One place I see this very commonly is in weightlifting. Too often I see people going too heavy or doing near max weights because they believe that is the best way to get stronger in those lifts. In reality, if you work just a little lighter and make the movement PERFECT, and keep the position perfect, and keep the form perfect, and squeeze every muscle that is supposed to work, you will get stronger! Period! On the flip side, if you go 20lbs heavier but maybe not quite hit full depth, or the back rounds and now the core isn’t working, or you shift out of position putting focus on the wrong muscles, you will get less results. Even though you lifted heavier, you are not building the proper form and muscles to continue progressing and to truly reach your strength potential. You are putting a low ceiling on yourself and will stop progressing quickly. It is hard to take steps back to what seems “basic” but it will undoubtedly take you further!
A personal example was when I began to learn how to barbell snatch. I had decently good technique, but I always wanted to go heavy each time I snatched. I quickly hit a weight that I could not get passed no matter how many times I tried it week after week after week. Finally, I went back to the empty barbell for a few weeks and drilled nothing but the positions and technique. Then a few weeks of only light weight, drilling the form. As I continued to build back up in weight over months, my sole focus was on mastering the technique.. The basics. If I did a lift and the form was off, the weight went down. It didn’t matter how light it felt. When I built back up to the weight I could not get previously, I hit it with ease! Then heavier, and heavier, with ease! Perfecting the foundation and basics allowed me to increase my ceiling for progress.
This is true with any lift, exercise, or movement! Mastering the basics, chasing virtuosity, will allow you to progress to the next level, whatever that may be! My challenge to you is this: Take a few workouts a week and purposefully “scale” the movements, weights, or intensity back more than you would normally and focus on mastering the movement with virtuosity! It won’t be the cool and sexy thing to put on instagram, but it will lead you to do the cool and sexy things that others can’t do! It is tough to put the ego aside and take a few steps backward, but it is worth it when you shoot forward farther than you have ever been!