In the book, “Visual Intelligence,”* Amy Herman discusses how our ability to observe without imparting our own biases can improve outcomes in our careers and lives. In the chapter on communication, she writes, “how does [Amsterdam painter Jan Frank] know when a painting is finished? ‘When I get the feeling adding one more stroke would be too many.’”
There is a tendency in workouts, self improvement, careers, and personal relationships to make things complicated. It’s as though simplicity is too easy; instead, we complicate things like exercise in a way that makes solving a Rubik’s cube look easy.
For instance, consider the well read individual that is designing his own workouts. What does he do? Foam roll for 10 minutes, 10 minutes of joint mobility, 10 minutes of corrective exercise work, 10 minutes of HIT work, 10 minutes of heavy strength work, 10 minutes of skill work, and 10 minutes of stretching, followed by recovery boots and a cryotherapy session. Within that 70 minute workout what did he accomplish?
Probably less than he would like to admit. The problem with living in an age where information on any topic is available at our fingertips is it’s easy to get bogged down with everything we “should” be doing to get the “most” from our desired activity.
But the thing is, like with writing, less is often more. Why do three exercises that perform the same basic function when you could just do one? This doesn’t mean don’t vary your workouts and ignore prep work before exercises, but in the example above, if instead of trying to do everything in one day, what if he made his workout focused on strength and cut out everything that didn’t help with strength? Or mobility or recovery or metabolic conditioning… You get the idea. Prioritize one thing during your daily workout, choose exercises that support that one thing, and see if simplifying the process makes the act of designing your workouts easier (and more enjoyable). Complicated doesn’t always mean better.
*”Visual Intelligence” is one of the more useful books I have read for coaching in the last 12 months. I highly recommend it.