If you have been a reader (or listener) of the Get-Fit Guy show for a while, you will know that I believe exercise shouldn't be like medicine that you choke down in order to stay healthy. It should lead to good health, yes, but it should also be enjoyable. With all the hundreds (maybe thousands) of activities available to us, you don't have to force your fitness. For example, if you absolutely hate running, there is absolutely no reason for you to take it up. Try cycling, gardening, LARPing, lawn bowling, planking, hiking, swimming, orienteering, salsa dancing, or all of the above.
Long term fans of Get-Fit Guy will also know that a mixed and varied movement program is the best way to become mobile and to stay mobile for years to come. Choosing one pattern of movement (or none) to practice the majority of the time will leave you with mobility deficiencies, overuse patterns, and unexpressed genes.
The other day, a listener named Michelle called the Get-Fit Guy Voicemail and asked: “Is it really that important to change my workouts or can I mostly do the same things that I enjoy all the time?”
Well, Michelle, as much as I applaud the fact that you are doing something that you enjoy, I do have some advice to share with you.
The Law of Specificity
Let’s face it, most of us are not professional athletes. I for one have finally stopped waiting for the NHL to call and invite me to play defence for the Winnipeg Jets. But despite the fact that we are not pros, many of us tend to train as if it's our job, focusing all of our workouts on our chosen sport and ignoring all other forms of exercise or athletic endeavour. We behave as if we are one breakthrough spin class away from heading to the Olympics.
If you are a professional athlete, you do need single-minded focus on getting better at your one chosen sport.
If you are a professional athlete, you do need single-minded focus on getting better at your one chosen sport. This is called the law of specificity or the principle of specificity. This principle states that your training should be relevant and specific to the sport for which you are training. Or, put another way, that you should perform the actual skill—and only that skill—so you can get better at it. Like that old joke about the best way to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.
It's true that training this way is essential to excel at that one sport. But it is also unhealthy. If you focus only on drills and skills specific to your sport, you will end up unbalanced and this will inhibit your general athletic ability and performance in the long run.
Most professional athletes know their careers will be short and they work hard to make that pay off. But because their livelihood depends on being very good at their chosen sport, they are willing to take the biological hit that comes along with training with that type of specificity.
The beauty of me not having received that call from the NHL is that I don’t have to limit myself toonly training for hockey.
The beauty of me not having received my NHL call is that I don’t have to limit myself to only training for hockey. I have the luxury of choosing a more well-rounded fitness program. And the more I branch out and adopt a wider approach to my fitness, as opposed to practicing like a specialist, the better and better I begin to move through this world.