If we want to get better at doing something, I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of us know that we have to actually do that thing. No, the majority of us can’t wake up and walk into a gym and squat 200kg without having ever squatted before. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that goal of being the next Crossfit games champion isn’t going to happen if you haven’t even done Crossfit. And that goal that you have of being heralded as the next Mozart on the piano, probably isn’t going to happen if you don’t even know what a piano looks like.
What’s the point of all this you might ask?
You actually have to put in the countless hours of work that are specific to bringing about that goal that you want. But how do we go about doing? First and foremost, by applying some specificity my friends.
When it comes to training, specificity is essentially the framework in which all other decisions are made. When we look at specificity in a sport, regardless of whether it’s powerlifting, crossfit, weightlifting, rugby, adventure racing, or rock climbing it’s important to understand what it takes to attain the desired goals- whether they be competitive or not- and direct the training in a fashion that will allow us to reach those goals.
The reason why specificity reigns supreme in our books is that regardless of your sport or training environment that you partake in, it governs the application of every other training principle.
Technically speaking, specificity means that the training you are partaking in should tax and stimulate the underlying systems of the sport or task that it is that you wish to accomplish. That is, specific training trains the systems responsible for generating movement for that sport or task in question.
When it comes to getting stronger or performing better at sport you have training that directly supports your performance, training that generally supports it, training that somewhat supports it, and training that doesn’t support it at all and in some cases detracts from it.
In powerlifting, specificity would be defined as training that improves the underlying systems of powerlifting performance. If you’re looking to compete in the sport of powerlifting you can do training training that directly supports your performance i.e. the big 3 lifts heavy and often. Training that generally supports performance- training to increase your levels of general strength and to enhance the size of your muscles. Training that doesn’t directly support your training: stretching and mobility drills. Training that is not specific to your performance at all and potentially can jeopardize your performance- clocking multiple miles of running every single day.
Specificity isn’t completely exclusive to the sports such as powerlifting and Olympic lifting. Let’s take a look at the role that specificity plays in the the sport of fitness- Crossfit. In Crossfit, specificity might be defined as the training that improves the underlying systems of Crossfit performance.
But how can Crossfit, a sport which has been harped on for not having any specificity for ages, actually have any sort of specificity?
If you want to get good at the sport you have to develop your competency and capacity to perform a variety of movements from multiple disciplines across a variety of time domains. Being what some people would refer to as a ‘generalist’ then could be said to be specific to the sport. If you’re really strong at squatting benching and deadlifting, have a decent aerobic capacity, but your olympic lifting is poor and you can’t do a muscle up or walk on your hands yet chances are that you won’t be qualifying for the games this year.
But now for the real kicker, how does this apply to the rest of your life outside of the gym?
If you’re looking to become one of the best known coffee makers in your city you’re going to need to practice your craft. Chances are that showing up at a coffee shop and saying “I know how to make a coffee” and only having the experience of boiling a kettle and pouring the water over some grounds in a plunger unfortunately may not provide you with the requisites to be heralded as the greatest barista in your city. However, putting in the hours countless work that are required of such a highly skilled craft will ultimately ensure that you are headed in the right direction.
What about the person who want’s to be the best parent or partner that they can be?
Although there is a plethora of knowledge out there you’re going to have to practice being present and learning from your decisions that you make. Actively listening and paying attention to your kids or your partner and engaging in conversation with them while showing interest is a sure fire way to start you heading off in the right direction. If you’re reading this and someone is around you that you have a potential to cultivate a deeper relationship with you should probably put your phone down or stop reading this. The point is that to be a more effective partner or parent you are going to have to practice and work at the skills that lead to the development of longer lasting and more fulfilling relationships.
My challenge to you for the week is to practice the specific things that you want to get better at. If you’re wanting to get stronger, do the things that you know you need to do in order to get stronger. If you want to build a relationship with someone, listen to them, put away your phone and go all in on being present in every moment that you can with them.
Specificity reigns supreme.
A) Front Squat: 4 x 6 @ 75% 1RM or 8/10 rpe
B) Good Morning: 3 x 6 @ 75% of 1RM or 7.5/10 RPE
C) 10 Minute Ascending ladder of:
I) Dumbbell Thruster: 22.5kg/15kg
II) Dumbbell Walking Lunges (per leg): 22.5kg/15kg
A1) Strict Press: 3 x 6 @ Rpe 8
A2) Chin Up: 3 x 6 @ rpe 8
B1) Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 x 8 @ Rpe 8/10
B2) Bent Over Dumbbell Row: 3 x 8 @ Rpe 8/10
C) 3 rounds of:
10 Dumbbell Deadlifts
10 Dumbbell Cleans
10 Dumbell Push Press
10 Dumbbell Thrusters
A) Power Clean: 4 x 3 @ 75% 1RM
B1) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat: 3 x 8 @ 8/10rpe
B2) Stagger Stance Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift- 3×8 @ 8/10rpe
C) 3 rounds of:
3 minutes to complete:
10 Deadlifts @ 100kg/60kg
10 Bar Facing Burpees
Rest 2 minutes repeat two more times (3 times in total)