I have always wanted to read more books. I used to commute by train, and I finished a book every couple of weeks. Now, I commute solely by car, and my reading has plummeted. My wife suggested I try Audible, which is the biggest audio book subscription service today (think Spotify, but for books). So far, I have finished 4 books, and I’m on my way to finishing several more. It’s definitely a great way to maximize a usually unproductive block of time in my day. The book I’m currently reading is not new, nor is it unknown. I’m reading “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. I keep a “to read” list, and as people I respect make reading suggestions from time to time, the book gets added to the list. “Outliers” was suggested by more than a handful of people – so I finally took the plunge and started to read it.
Many of the concepts of the book can be applied to athletics and training, but one that really stands out is having “enough” of a quality to compete. More of something, like height in basketball, is usually a good thing. More is usually better, up until the point where you are now tall enough to be in the NBA. Then, more height isn’t better. There’s many more qualities that differentiate a mediocre player from a hall of famer. Lebron James isn’t the tallest guy in the league. Steph Curry sure isn’t. They reached the height threshold that allows their other talents to be able to shine. If you assembled a team solely made up of 7 ft tall people, that team probably would get beat a lot. Because there’s more to being a good NBA player than height. The examples Gladwell uses are numerous – winners of the Nobel Prize aren’t all from Ivy League schools, nor do they all have the highest IQs. They are smart enough to compete with the graduates of elite schools, but their brains might work in a different way, or they might organize their thoughts a bit differently than the people who have a higher IQ, allowing these people to end up more successful from their higher IQ’ed peers.
So then why do most young athletes, Olympic lifters, Crossfitters, etc. focus on one quality or skill, while neglecting another lagging area of their training, which would almost certainly help them compete at a higher level? If athletes or lifters only have finite time to train – due to work, off season, ability to recover, etc., – then why don’t they maximize the time they have to make the most gains in the areas that will give them the biggest overall return on their time? Because people naturally avoid things they don’t like or aren’t good at. Think about it.
- The football lineman who has a 400 lb bench, but is so immobile than he can’t get into a 3 point stance without his back resembling an upside-down “U”, preventing him from seeing the field – He should emphasize mobility and flexibility into his training to become a better lineman
- The crossfit athlete who does metcons 7 days a week, but gets stapled to the ground with a 225 lb squat – He should cut down on the cardio and do a dedicated strength cycle
- The Olympic weightlifter who can squat 220 kg for reps, but struggles cleaning 150 kg because the barbell gets pushed forward – He should cut down on strength work and do more technical drills
- The casual over 40 exerciser who wants to look good and feel good, lifts 4 days a week, but sits in a chair for 12 hours for 5 days – He should worry more about moving around and doing mobility drills so he doesn’t injure himself lifting
- The baseball player who has lax joints, but follows an aggressive stretching protocol daily – He should add stability and strength exercises to better control his existing ROM
- The high school wide receiver who only cares about his 40 time – He should add a ton of change of direction work, because football requires quick cutting in many directions
Athletic success, as well as personal and business success, can usually be boiled down to one thing – getting out of your comfort zone. Move on to the things you aren’t good at once you develop a skill or a quality sufficiently. Stop wasting time trying to get your bench up from 440 to 450, when you don’t even squat and you can’t you touch your toes. Be honest with yourself. If you are good enough at something, recognize that, and focus on other areas that need improvement.
Mulligan Fitness and Hylete.com
Check out the Cross Training Short 2.0 and other best in the business training apparel at Hylete.com and get 20% off any order when you use the code TRT6YRGES. Click here and check out the latest gear!