If you chose “going hard”, you’re wrong. If you chose “going smart”, you’re also… not right. The title of this blog sets you up to choose one or the other, and unless you’re like me (stubborn and obstinate), you might not have said, “BOTH, BRITT!” That’s okay, but let me explain what some folks think about “going hard,” and what we often don’t think of as, “going smart.”
When athletes think about going hard, I generally hear people saying things like, “no matter what, keep going,” or “it’s supposed to hurt/suck/etc.”. The thing is, going “hard” means something different to everyone, and it definitely shouldn’t hurt! Every athlete should definitely push themselves in a workout. When your coach explains the workout and intended stimulus (what you are supposed to get out of training this day), it’s partly up to you to do the mental math of, “how much weight can I realistically do for that many reps/sets/time domain/etc?” or “how would I need to break this up/which scaling option can I maintain?” We can’t all always go RX, but you shouldn’t sandbag a workout either. If you know a scale will be TOO easy, ask your coach for a suggestion or use what you know about your training to make the workout one that will push you.
Going smart is basically what is outlined above. One cannot go hard without going smart. Before starting a workout, think about:
- What’s the intended stimulus? How am I supposed to feel/move during this workout? How much time do I have? If I can choose how to approach it, what is my strategy to move faster/lift more/move better? Is this a time to work on technique and form or do I just need to complete it?
- If I have options for how to complete the workout, what’s my strategy? Is it a WOD where I need to move fast? If so, what will help me to do that? Do I need to scale a movement? Do I need to lower the reps? Do I need to scale the weight?
- What will make me better? If I’ve done something similar to this WOD (which is almost always the case), what data do I have from my previous workouts (hello, Wodify!) to help me push myself a little more? Maybe I’ll go up 5lbs on the dumbbells this time or do sets of 10 instead of five, or string together my double unders instead of breaking them up. Either way, you should always be growing. If you’re doing workouts the same way at the same level of intensity and volume that you always have, you’re doing it wrong.
- Reflect: could I have gone heavier? Could I have taken fewer/shorter breaks? Could I have done bigger sets? If/when I do this workout again, what would I want to be true? Apply that to all your future workouts.
Finally, celebrate yourself and your teammates. When you finish a WOD, give that fist bump. You just PR’d something (probably)! And if there are other athletes still working out, CHEER. THEM. ON! They are also going hard, friend. No matter how everyone scales (up or down), they are putting in WORK. Take time to celebrate yourself and those who chose to show up. Have fun and be better every day.