Making Easy Hard

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Making Easy Hard

I’m sure I speak for most coaches here – one of my pet peeves is when an athlete says “this is easy”.

This irks me for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s an insult to most other athletes
  2. It’s missing the point

Let’s discuss that second reason…

Most of us understand that adaptation occurs on the other side of a stressor; be it progressively overloading a back squat, or completing more reps of a wall ball. The simple concept is that in order to create adaptation, you need to train just beyond your capacity to improve it.

If we take a statement like “this is easy” and apply it to this concept, little to no adaptation is occurring because the option chosen is not challenging enough to deliver a positive stimulus – keeping in mind that there are always exceptions to this rule.

Not only that, but there is also a certain arrogance in proclaiming something as “easy”, as this implies one has developed mastery of a certain movement which not even the highest skilled athletes would claim to have done so.

If something is “easy”, you could choose another movement although in this context it is more relevant to make the “easy”, hard because if adaptation is the goal, then “easy” misses the point.

Consider this analogy: the current world record for a plank is 9 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second. WIthout belittling the enormity of this achievement, I bet if we asked the current record holder during his attempt to bring his ribs down, squeeze his bum and try to pull his elbows towards his toes hence creating maximal tension throughout his body, his finishing time would be dramatically different.

Applying this to our training: if we’re constantly challenging the body by putting it under differing degrees of tension and exposing it to novel stimuli, then ultimately we can get more out of the movements and our practice as a whole. Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit) always said that “the magic is in the movements”; he meant this in the sense that these can be infinitely regressed and progressed.

What “hard” is will differ from person to person; this is a subjective measurement and each will have their own frame of reference as to what this looks and feels like. But if your goal is to get as much out of your physical practice – to create sustained adaptation and access an infinite network of scalable movements – then making the easy hard, is in your best interest.

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Serge Houhlias
CFH Coach

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