What are you training for? It’s a simple question.
Unfortunately I find that a lot of group fitness athletes don’t put much or any thought into the answer before considering modifying. This could also be a question that you never really asked yourself, but everyone should be able to answer it.
You don’t have to be training for a sporting event. You don’t have to be training for any kind of competition. You could be training for life and to have a healthy lifestyle to promote and play with your children. This may be the answer a lot of you have and that is primarily athlete I’m speaking to in this article.
As with any sport training, the method should prepare you for the sport and help prevent injury. The training should not be the cause of injury. If you are training to play with your children and have a healthy lifestyle then you have no reason to push to the point of extreme soreness either. This could be a bad choice in movement for you specifically or a bad movement pattern that you have developed and continue to use.
Note: (very few movements are inherently bad, just done with bad form or for the wrong reasons)
As a CrossFit coach I have seen a lot of Rx or die approaches to workouts. Those are the athletes who no matter what is written as the workout of the day they will do it exactly as it is written without thought of why you are trying to do it that way. They see any modification as “scaling” and view it negatively. This is a reckless way to approach your workouts. This could be with too much weight on the bar or too many reps without the proper strength to maintain proper technique.
Your workouts are just that… Your workouts. If it is the exact same workout for everyone and is not written specifically for you then it should be modified more times than not to fit to your goals.
A question that you should ask yourself for each workout is what it the intent of the workout? Is it to beat you up so that you struggle to move for the next few days? Doubtful… and I have a feeling that being so sore that you can hardly move doesn’t go along with your goals either. I also doubt the goal of the workout was to put you in an inefficient position for an extreme amount of reps either.
What is the intention of the workout?
Intention: To practice a skill
Recommendation: keeping the weight light enough to truly become more efficient at that movement
Intention: To add strength to a movement pattern (squat, hinge, push or pull)
Recommendation: Make sure you have control of the movement completely before adding the appropriate load to the sets and reps programmed. Choose a different variation that you are more proficient in. If you are not skilled in the movement with light weight then adding weight will not help.
Intention: To find intensity
Recommendation: Chose weights and movements that will allow you to find the required intensity of the workout without having to focus or rely on a skill you are inefficient with. (Practice that movement at a later time) Adding set and reps of inefficient movement patterns in an environment that does not allow for practice of technique is an easy way to get injured.
Intention: To maintain a pace for a certain amount of time
Recommendation: To make movement decisions based on the pace you are trying to maintain. That could mean changing the movement or changing the weight of the movement and find that pace. Don’t go out so hard that you can’t maintain either.
Taking control of your workout will benefit you greatly in achieving your goals and staying healthy. Making sure you are asking questions about the value of you doing that specific workout and modify to make it more valuable to you. If you have trouble answering the questions about the workout reach out to your coach. This isn’t saying to modify workouts that you don’t like, just to make sure to modify each workout to your skill level and goals to achieve the recommended outcome for that day.
I will discuss more ideas on modification movements in another article.