The Big Ideas:
- Track numbers that matter over time: Strength & Power
- Fitness is defined as Strength & Movement
- Strength is what you can do; its qualities are outputs
- Movement is how well you can apply your strengths; its qualities are inputs
- Strength is Math, Movement is Mastery
- Strength and Power takes time and consistency to build, but their effects last longer and affect your fitness abilities broadly and deeply. They tend to be long-term fitness qualities
- Cardio is not a physical ability, it’s your body’s response to exertion
- Cardio is better understood through its two types of strength:
- Stamina is high intensity output over time
- Endurance is low intensity output over time
- Stamina and endurance gains are quickly improved and quickly lost. They tend to be short-term fitness qualities
- Don’t judge yourself harshly if you lose Stamina or Endurance–if you work on your Strength, Power and Movement qualities, you will be more fit day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-over-year.
There is only way to deepen your fitness: track most important quantities of it over time.
But don’t just tracking anything, track what matters. Consistently. Over time. At G, we just launched our long-planned, MasterPath tracking system and many of members have already started their sheet. Some of you might not even realize that they are out and waiting for you. Well they are out, and they are waiting, and they will help you get the most out of your path with us. Ask a coach in session or email us with questions.
Let’s get to why and how to track. First, we define fitness as having two attributes: Strength & Movement.
Strength is your output. And we see a broad horizon of Strength, one that includes all outputs:
- Inner Strength (core / stability strength)
- Strength (contractile ability)
- Power (force)
- Stamina (high intensity output over time)
- Endurance (low intensity output over time)
All of these are Strength. In this way, “strength and conditioning” sounds redundant. It’s just two different outputs along the spectrum of Strength. One thing that all forms of strength have in common: all can be measured. Strength is Math.
Movement is your input. Movement includes
- Range of Strength (because flexibility/mobility without strength is a liability)
We can go into some of the above definitions another time (feel free to ask, too), but Movement is essentially how well you apply your strength. Weak strength? Weak movement. Heck, no strength? Good luck moving. But if you have strength, well, the movement world becomes your oyster. Movement becomes Mastery. But not without Strength.
By recording a couple numbers on your path, you give yourself a window to know where you were, where you are at, and where you are going. Athletically or therapeutically, tracking helps you to ratchet up your abilities. Aesthetically, it will allow you to achieve those self-redefining results you’re seeking. For many of us movers, we even stop caring so much about them. In short, progression = improvement. No progression? No improvement.
Let’s go off message for a moment. Because contrary to modern quantophrenic beliefs, numbers do not hold all truths. And the slew of products and companies that big data your whole life don’t help either. “Anything that helps me do a little is good, right? A little is better than nothing!?” Of course it is. That’s an unassailable argument and anyone would agree. It’s also a cop out. If you are going to do anything, might as well do a right thing.
If you eat anything today, you will satiate your hunger and stave off scurvy and starvation. That doesn’t mean what you eat is helping you toward a path that might actually matter to you.
In fitness and life, not all that matters boils down into a number. There are days to move your number needles and days to just move, to work out the kinks, to have fun and let go. Just because you step into a workout, doesn’t mean today you will build your personal fitness Rome.
Any of our workouts can have a Strength emphasis (pushing your Strength, Power or Stamina/Endurance capacities forward), or a Movement emphasis (cleaning out soreness, moving through a day’s tweakiness, or working on qualities like Alignment, Range of Strength, Patterning, Flow, etc.). Most high-value exercises, that is ones that work patterns that matter, can be scaled down to therapeutic value or scaled up to aesthetic and athletic intensity.
Feeling a little wonky? Make today a Movement day.
Have the eye of the tiger? Move your Strength needles forward a little.
But move, always. Don’t wait to get inspired to move, you move to get inspired. The inspiration comes from doing the damn thing, not before.
Back to message. Over time, some numbers matter. Strength, in many ways, is math. But the equation takes time and progression is something that happens incrementally. It happens because you are on path, over time, week in and week out. Consistency is the foundation of success, and mindfully applying intensity where it matters will mean you step forward. This is why fitness won’t happen faster by trying to purge your demons in every workout. Fitness will happen with consistency and by apply intensity where and when it matters. It won’t happen by freaking out every workout. Or freaking out if you miss one or some. Freaking out has never been a recipe for success.
So what are the most important qualities of fitness? As far as outputs go: Strength and Power. Why? Because Strength and Power are deeper and broader qualities of fitness and ability. They improve every other quality of fitness– including your Stamina/Endurance and they are underneath all the qualities of Movement.
That doesn’t mean we don’t love us some cardio. Done right and with the right patterns, Stamina-styled cardio can also help keep up your Strength and Power capacities. And Endurance can be great for head space (and probably why smart people are often sucked into endurance addictions), and occasional challenges. Heck, we practice some Stamina in every session. It grows your brain, it flushes the system, it releases stress, and increases smiling.
Still, cardio capacity by itself is an ephemeral quality of fitness. It goes up quickly when you practice it, and drops off in a hurry when you stop. We track Stamina over a cycle, but we don’t carry over from cycle to cycle. This is why how winded you get in a workout is the weakest indication of your actual ability baseline. And why stamina/endurance folks tend to feel that they can’t miss a single training day because they feel like they are slipping. That’s because to a degree, they are. Cardio-based fitness is short term fitness.
Many of us in New England have been off our regular fitness path over this crazy winter. Me too. My body is tired of lifting snow, my right elbow is feeling tweaky, and I’m sick of outside time being spent from car to door. I’ve been moving with useful, mindful intensity only sporadically. Yesterday, I got totally winded at our Stamina session. But, I still could apply my Strength and Power. Rather than get bummed about my tweakiness and down on myself about having low cardio, I understand that what matters is that I got back to work on what matters. I gave the greatest emphasis of my workout to the patterns that were focused on Strength and Power. And I put my Stamina numbers on the cycle’s blackboard.
And next cycle, I intend to help people move their numbers forward, just a little. Myself included.