Hey there. Strange times, eh? Hopefully you’ve been able to do what feels right to you. That’s going to be different for everybody, so I hope you’ve been able to pursue activities and goals that help you keep your mind at peace and your outlook as positive as possible.
From a performance standpoint, shit’s gotten weird. There’s not really a concrete guess on when we can be getting back to the things we love to do, and pursue the original goals that we’ve put sweat, blood, and tears toward. When those goals fade into the background, it can be tough to maintain motivation (which is ok). I’ve had chats with a few of our athletes who are struggling to maintain the drive to get a session in because, “Why would I? What am I training for, when I don’t know when the outcome will be determined?” While it’s ok for times like these to change our drive, certain strategies do exist that can help someone make progress, and stay on the path.
Focus on the Swing, Not the Shot
I recently finished the book Principles, by Ray Dalio. While a lot of it has to do with the business side of things, certain principles (probably why he titled it that), emerged that apply to a wide, wide range of things. A concept that jumped out of me concerns how we view our processes and outcomes. Mr. Dalio talks about how both elements, the swing (process) and the resulting shot (outcome) need to be considered when we look at an individual’s performance with given task. Often, people don’t “finish their swing” and are only concerned about the outcome. I’m an absolutely terrible golfer, and one of my many, many, MANY flaws is that I tend to look up before I finish my swing. I want to see where the ball goes, but looking up too soon often means I’m sending a chunk of grass further than I send the actual ball.
Well, we’re at a place where the ultimate outcome of our training may not manifest itself for quite some time. We can use this as an opportunity to really dial in our “swing”. How can you improve your process of improvement?
Elements of a Training “Swing”
Like a golf swing or complicated coordination dyno, the process of training is made up of many parts. These parts, when combined, determine just how effective your training process can be. Different parts affect the end result for different people, so reflection might be necessary to determine what elements of your training process could use improvement. What are some things you can really focus on to make your training process as effective as possible? Here’s a few items to consider. This is not even close to an exhaustive list.
- Intention: What’s the goal of your session? Absolute strength? Power production? Trying hard? It could be anything, really. Are you performing every rep with the session intention in mind? Are you moving the weight or trying to create force as fast as humanly possible for your power sessions? Are you really trying to tap into that high intensity, maximum tension state required for absolute strength production? Are you digging deep and really FIGHTING when a foot pops on the boulder or you bungle a sequence, as opposed to dropping off and re-trying? Are you really persevering through that last set of repeaters, or are you giving up a second too early? Are you trying to develop your ability to create and control rotation?
While all of these ares of focus are a bit less concrete than just sets and reps, practicing intention and purpose throughout a training session will result in massive improvements over the long haul.
- Consistency: How well do you stick to your plan when things don’t go perfectly? Yes, life is weird and super prescriptive plans are hard to follow at times. I like to structure weeks with a minimum and maximum frequency for each type of session. This way, if you’re psyched and your schedule aligns, you can shoot for that upper bound. When things go off the rails, can you still hit the minimum? If you truly can’t it might be time to tweak your training schedule. Sometimes, it just takes practice. Consistency is a skill that needs to be trained just like anything else. Try to hit that minimum goal. At the very least, start your warmup, and if you’re not psyched, move on with your day. Sometimes you just need to get going, and the rest will take care of itself. This time period is fantastic opportunity to work on improving (NOT perfecting) your ability to be consistent.
- Mindfulness: Do you go into autopilot, diligently knock your session out, and then go on with your day? Do you reflect on what went well, what could use improvement, and formulate a plan to improve on those things? If you’re not recording and keeping a training log, this could be a great time to start that practice. It can be as simple as noting 1 thing that went poorly, 1 thing that went well, and 1 thing you learned. It can be as complicated as logging your HRV score, the total number of seconds you slept, the phase of the moon, your total tonnage from the session, your average heart rate, whatever. Start with what fits you, what you’ll enjoy doing, and something you can CONSISTENTLY keep doing. Simple is usually best. Power Company Climbing has a process journal that could be a great start if you’re unsure what to implement.
Ethereal Opportunities for Improvement Lead to Concrete Results
Yes, these aren’t concrete things to focus on. It’s not a specific joint angle, it’s not “one exercise trick” you need to start doing, and it’s not going to be something that’s easily quantifiable. And that’s ok. If you’re someone who loves to zero in on the measurables, this could be an opportunity to spend some time on the more intangible aspects of the training process. Don’t just try to improve the numbers for the exercise you’re doing. Get better at training.
Improve your swing. You might be surprised at just how much further your shot travels.
If we can help you in any way through all this, or if you’re interested in learning more about our online memberships, please reach out to us here.