Working on a movement vs. working out that movement

An important concept I have been thinking about lately is the difference between working on and workout out a movement or exercise. To me working on a movement or exercise means that you are trying to develop technical mastery of it. Working out, on the other hand, means that you are going hard in an attempt to raise the strength or fitness level of that movement or exercise.

To me, too many people skip or rush past the working on phase and go right to the working out phase. But this appoach leads to false strength gains and injuries.

For example, if your hip dominant movement pattern is bad and you have trouble doing deadlifts without using your lower back can you really work out that movement? Can you, or should you, worry at all about “getting stronger” on your deadlift until you have worked on it to the point you can perform a perfect rep with no weight?

In my mind you can not really train a movement until you have established good control of it. Until that point you want to work on cleaning it up. Of course, you first have to get around the mindset that tells us that if we aren’t “working hard” then we aren’t accomplishing anything. I would say that “hard work”, if directed at the wrong exercises and movement patterns, can be harmful to your long term progress.

When you train keep that in mind – work on the exercises and movements you don’t have mastery of yet and work out hard on the ones that you do.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Can’t stress how important this is, James. Glad you brought this up. Too many times I have seen others working out at my gym doing a particular exercise improperly. You think you know what you are doing until someone happens to mention that perhaps you might try it this way” for better results. Like most of us, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that I’m doing it correctly.. that is until I had a friend video me and found I had developed all sorts of bad habits while working out. That’s why I believe that it is so important to have a coach that knows what they are doing initially help you learn the proper technique then then continue to monitor to insure that you haven’t picked up any bad habits… in a perfect world. The hardest part for me now is really learning to do it correctly and not rush ahead as you’ve pointed out and “just do it!” Ride on…
    My apoligies to Nike…

    Reply • March 7 at 10:30 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks for the insights, I highly recommend having a coach check your form or at least videoing yourself and checking against some of the videos I post here. As an athlete how you do an exercise is more important than how much you do.

      Reply • March 7 at 3:25 pm

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