In Part 1 of this How To, I discuss what it takes to develop your performance inside the gym, using your car as an analogy.

Your car has an engine and gears. You turn it on in the morning, it’s cold, the engine needs a few minutes to warm up so you can efficiently get from A to B. Before you put it in drive, it settles in at the lowest gear to conserve energy (gas) as it warms up. You slowly pull out of the driveway, continue down your street at the speed limit, turn onto a bigger street with a higher speed limit that kicks your car into a higher gear, then you get onto the freeway with the highest speed and the highest gear your car will hit that day. Then you reverse the process as you near your destination and park.

Imagine a situation where your driveway IS the onramp to the freeway. You would turn the ignition and have to floor it to get up to speed, every time you wanted to go somewhere. Sounds like a problem waiting to happen right?

Truth is, in the gym, many people treat their bodies like the driveway to freeway analogy. They don’t properly warm up, they take warm up sets for granted, and they hit the workout as fast and as hard as they can every time they hear 3, 2, 1, GO. You can do this for a short while but it is not sustainable by any means.

You car idles to conserve energy (gas). There is a reason it settles into specific gears on the streets, to conserve energy, and when you hit the freeway, it does it’s best to conserve energy while moving at top speeds. Gears are meant to get you from A to B at different speeds with efficiency (ie: utilizing the least amount of gas necessary). If your car idled and consumed gas like you were driving 100mph, you would assume it had a problem (because it’s using too much energy).

Hopefully you can see the relationship. Yes, I am saying your body is a machine that needs time to warm up and needs time spent at lower speeds before hitting peak speeds. Let’s further this analogy, hang with me on this.

Approach your one hour in the gym in segments:

1. The class warm up is YOUR warm up; take your time. Just because the person next to you is moving fast does not mean you need to. Move at your own speed to allow your body to get ready for the workout. The warm up is one of the most important and undervalued pieces of lifelong performance and is pivotal for immediate performance results. Let it to be your idle time before gearing up to higher speeds. If you always blaze through the warm up, antsy to get to the exciting stuff, your performance won’t ever get to it’s true potential.

2. Utilize warm up sets properly. Whether you are about to perform weightlifting, gymnastics, or monostructural movements (running, rowing, biking, etc.), you need to prime your body for those specific movement patterns. Don’t be a driveway to freeway athlete, take your time on the streets.

3. It’s time to hit that intensity (ie: get on the freeway). How fast should you go, what movements are involved, and all the outside factors (diet, sleep, and stress) all play a role in your ability to develop your gears. As much as we would like to think we can perform at peak levels every time we play, it’s not realistic for the average person. Some workouts SHOULD be performed at 80% max speed, some 60%, some lower and some at max speed (benchmarks). Speed and intensity are synonymous. Remember that you are training and developing your abilities FOR peak performance, but peak performance is seen when necessary and only when the body is ready for it.

4. After 1-3 are completed, the fun stuff lies ahead, within the WOD. Because workouts are complex and specific, I will post a part 2 in which I discuss developing your gears within WOD’s (how to increase your speed/intensity).

We all value our vehicles and feel the frustration when it breaks down. You take care of your car because you are given an owners manual and a maintenance schedule with months/miles attached to it. Your body gets you from A to B way more than your car. Your body is way more complex than your car. You should take care of it much more than your car. Each hour in the gym is an opportunity to do so. Take your time. Warm up. Be smart with your body.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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