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-

Social Comments:

WordPress Comments:

  1. Janet says:

    You’ve described my challenge with the ketttlebell snatch. I’m improving my technique a bit more each time I practice it, but I fatigue quickly and have to see a few bad reps before I’m willing to acknowledge that’s all I can do for one day and stop. Fortunately my swings are good and I can use them to fulfill my desire for a challenging workout.

    Reply • May 9 at 9:39 pm
  2. bikejames says:

    KB snatches are tough to get down. Like you said, though, once you see your form break down its time to stop. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.


    Reply • May 11 at 10:45 am

Add a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


Follow MTB Strength Training Systems:
James Wilson
Author and Professional
Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson