On Elegance and Single Workout
Elegance is [achieved by] selectiveness or restraint in the use of means—a good selection gets to the point with just the right means.
In my opinion, the crucial element of a training program is a workout. Not an exercise and not a microcycle but a single workout.
Why not an exercise—the basic building block of training? Because exercises are like words of a language. Speaking or writing words is not enough to be understood well—just as doing exercises correctly is not enough to get the desired training effect. One has to put them together into sentences (workouts) that make sense.
Even marginally competent instructors know hundreds of exercises and the correct form and purpose of each. It would take gross incompetence to teach an exercise incorrectly or to order an athlete to do an inappropriate exercise. (Say, beyond the athlete’s ability or that accentuates the athlete’s liabilities, such as posture defects.) So, proficiency in selecting and teaching exercises I consider a given.
Many believe the microcycle is the most important building block of a training program. But the microcycle is made of workouts (as a paragraph is made of sentences), and if those are composed poorly then the whole microcycle doesn’t work.
In the U.S.A., in various courses, instructors and trainers are taught how to do exercises and how to screen athletes for exercises. Hardly ever are they taught how to compose a workout with those exercises for an optimal effect.
Composing and conducting a good workout is not difficult. One has to consider the athlete or athletes and the purpose of the workout, then select exercises that match both and make it all flow.
A good, purposeful, flowing workout leaves athletes happy, confident, and looking forward to the next workout. Athletes should feel so confident in the skills acquired or improved that they do not do on their own more than the instructor ordered them. When athletes linger after a workout and do more, it means that
— they have not done what they wanted;
— they don’t trust their skill; and
— the workout has not given them confidence that they have made sufficient progress.
After a well-run workout, athletes feel that all they need to do is rest before the next great workout. If they don’t feel that way and do more on their own, their readiness for the next workout suffers, and so the whole microcycle unravels.
So, that is why I believe the workout is the element that makes or breaks the training program.
Back to elegance. . . .
A good workout is like a good speech—compact, getting to the point without needless digressions—in a word, elegant in its economy of means and thus effective and memorable. Like a good speech (or writing), all its elements flow and build upon each other, leading to the aimed-for outcome.
Filed under: Exercises and Workouts, Periodization | 6 Comments
Tags: exercise, microcycle, sports training, Thomas Kurz, Tom Kurz, workout