Is All Effort Created Equal?

For those of you who aren’t big on reading, I’ll save you some time: the answer is “No”.  Unfortunately, if you want to know why, you’ll have to read on!

One of the most common mistakes we see in inexperienced athletes is the “more is better” mentality.  In all honesty, who can blame them?  The pop-culture stereotype of the successful athlete is someone who goes into the gym and works him or herself to the brink of death repeatedly.  Think Rocky Balboa…or the people in Nike commercials.  Those people don’t look all that concerned about what they’re doing.  They’re just concerned with doing whatever it is until they collapse into a pool of their own sweat (wearing the latest stylish athletic footwear, of course).  There’s good news and bad news.  The good news is, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) destroy yourself during every training session.  The bad news is, it still ain’t easy.  

Like so many things in the world of athletic performance, it all comes back to having a good plan, having the discipline to stick to your plan, and having a knowledgeable coach to let you know when it’s time to step on the gas and when it’s time to pump the brakes.  To make the most of your training, you need that drive to push yourself beyond the limit of what you thought you could do, but you also need the discipline and focus to manage that drive and direct it in a way that is going be best for your performance, resilience, and longevity in your sport.  This is why elite Crossfit competitors don’t do Crossfit, at least as it exists in most affiliates.  They know that in order to improve and excel in their sport, a daily max effort sweatfest of random movements won’t cut it.  Instead, they need to direct that effort towards the specific things that will make them better at their sport – developing their weightlifting technique, building their aerobic base, improving their strength endurance, etc.  They can improve at all of those things, possibly in the same day, through multiple sub-maximal efforts.  The same is true for any athlete.  Sometimes a max effort is required to move an athlete forward.  Often, the focus should be elsewhere.

The other “inequality” we see in effort has to do with correct movement patterns.  At SISU Strong, one of our goals for pretty much every athlete, regardless of sport or level of competition, is to make them more efficient.  In other words, we want them to expend less energy to perform the same amount of work.  It doesn’t take a genius to see how that can be an advantage in competition or just allow you to perform at a higher level for longer in practice or on casual rides.  However, it’s not immediately obvious how you make that happen.  One of the biggest ways we can start developing greater efficiency is by learning and practicing correct movement patterns.  By mastering major movements, such as the squat, hip hinge, push and pull, we are teaching our body to stabilize and absorb force through the muscles best equipped to handle that force.  If you never learn the correct movement pattern, you can waste a lot of time and effort and actually make yourself less efficient and more prone to injury.  It pays off to do your research, learn how to move correctly, and make the most of your training time.

If you need help learning correct movement patterns or with a training program in general, check out our online training options or downloadable PDF training programs.

Make 2017 Your Year

One thing that sets SISU Strong apart is our commitment to our values. We have a few, but there’s one that we consider a sort of “first among equals”: perseverance.  In fact, “sisu” loosely translates from Finnish as “the will to persevere through adversity”.  As we turn the page on another year, I’ve been reflecting on that word and what it means.  Often, we think of perseverance as pushing on through a terrible tragedy or some sort of extremely difficult circumstance – and it is. However, it also applies to everyday life.  Often, when we set goals – as many of us tend to do around this time of year  – we don’t count on all of the inevitable little setbacks that are going to stand between us and reaching that goal. We don’t think about all the times we’re going to feel like giving up.  When pursuit of that goal is going to seem like it’s not worth the extra work, the longer hours, the sacrifice.  That’s when we need perseverance – the will to keep going, even when it’s tough to tell if you’re even making progress towards your goal.  

Perseverance is a funny thing.  It’s entirely mental – physical limitations aside, you should be able to push through adversity by simply deciding to push through adversity.  On the other hand, if you ask any athlete – especially an action sports athlete – what their toughest challenge in their sport is, I can almost guarantee they will say something mental.  The point is, it’s all in your head, but mastering what’s in your head is easier said than done.  The good news is, there are some proven strategies you can use to stack the deck in your favor, and make sure you’re prepared to persevere, whatever your goals may be.

  • Have a plan.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to increase the chances that you’ll reach the goals you set for yourself this year is to have an actionable plan to achieve them.  It can be as simple as setting milestones for yourself, breaking your progress down into manageable sections that you can conquer, piece-by-piece.  Or it can be more complex – something like a calendar of daily actions you can take to keep moving towards your goal.  Either way, having a plan means you have a path to reach your goal.  No guesswork, no wondering what you should be doing, just simple steps to get you where you want to go.

  • Be accountable.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track mentally is to make sure you have some help.  An objective third party can tell you when you’re straying from the path that leads to your goals, and serve as a wake up call to get you back on track.  It’s not as hard to find an “accountabili-buddy” as you might think.  Reach out to your friends, family and co-workers.  See if they’ll help keep you on track in exchange for you performing the same service for them.  Then, just share your plan with him/her and ask them to check in with you once a week or once a month.  A quick text message or email might be the difference between staying the course and calling it quits.

  • Record everything.

What gets measured gets managed.  Write down your progress toward your goals.  Keep a journal, a spreadsheet, a note on your cell phone – whatever works.  The important thing is that you record.  Recording does at least two things that will help you keep your head in the game.  First, it creates a log that you can go back over to see your progress.  When you feel like you’re treading water and not making any headway, you can look back and see exactly how far you’ve come since you started.  That can be just the push you need to keep driving towards the finish line.  Second, creating a record forces you to pause and reflect.  It means you are taking some time everyday to deliberately think about your goals and what you’re doing to reach them.


As you set your goals for the new year, keep these strategies in mind.  If your plan for 2017 involves becoming stronger, faster, and better at your sport, learn how we can help you at sisustrong.com or by setting up a free intro consultation today.