Fitness as a skill

I have been thinking a lot about the best way to teach people lifelong fitness pursuits. Strength and conditioning is more than just getting someone sweaty, tired and sore. If you’re a member of Gain, you know that we think training is way more than just that.

Should you get sweaty and tired? Of course, that’s mandatory. But, if that’s all you care about, there’s a lot more to it than you think. Do you need goals to hit? Absolutely, but don’t forget about the process to get there and what you learn along the way.

Your focus on fitness should be process oriented, not just results oriented. We need to focus on skills, not only outcomes. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? What is easy now that was impossible before?

Strength and conditioning practice is just as much about learning new things as it is getting results. This skill-based approach will yield better results. You can focus on how much you have learned, how many new skills you own (movements and exercises)  and how different you feel.

Adding skills and techniques on top of what you’ve learned before makes exercise more rewarding. It’s also a more sustainable approach that can enhance your life in other ways.  Learning how to do new things is just as important for your body (and mind) as getting tired and sweaty. This lifestyle component, the part where what you do in the gym positively effects everything else – is the bread and butter of our program at Gain. Learning new exercises to challenge yourself or learning how to crawl backwards, no matter how awkward it is, helps you learn something new and will lead to more fluid movement in everything else.

Outcomes are important. And there is a time and a place to be focused on them. There is much more to strength and conditioning though, and that is the process. Putting in the time, developing skills and staying focused on your process and progression. This is just as important as the goal. IMG_2952

Fitness as a skill

Defining a Great Workout During the Holiday Season

How do you know when you had a great workout? Most of us associate with heavy breathing sweaty clothes and accomplishing all of the tasks for the day. What I want you to think about though is a great workout that doesn’t end with drops of sweat pouring off your face. That isn’t always necessary for workout success.

Dedicating an hour to moving each and every day is so important to living a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle. Many of you are coming up on a one year anniversary here. Many more are on two years and some even three!

That’s Consistency. You need that to be successful in anything. Long-term Gainers will vouch – not all of your workouts ended in a puddle of sweat. More than a fair share did and it is important to push it at the right time. But out of the 150 some odd training sessions you had this year, there was a fair share of them that we needed to pull it back, and define the workout as successful in other ways than just breathing hard. There’s days that you’re tired, didn’t get enough sleep, you traveled over the weekend, or maybe it’s just an off day and your mind is on other things.

You can still have a great workout by moving well.

Maybe you’re coming off a cold and you have been laying on the couch for a few days. Doing some easy squats to open up your hips and some inverted rows to get your shoulder blades and upper back moving can be just as valuable as heavy breathing.

Sometimes that’s just what your body needs. So how can you define a great workout – how do you feel after. Not just your mood, we all know that’s going to get better. How does your body feel? Did you have some tightness in the hips or around the knees before you started moving? Has your shoulder range of motion improved? Did you feed your body functional full range of motion movement that it craves? Yes or no.

You see, if you did this, if you took the time to move and to do it efficiently and correctly, you had a great workout. To have a full, all encompassing strength and conditioning program, you need to sweat a lot, breathe heavy and move some weight around. Moving properly though, is part of the package and taking the time to practice that means you had a great workout.

When your slammed for time this holiday season, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t get great training sessions. Maybe you were out late last night at a party and those heavy deadlifts are definitely out of the questions today – but coming in to take the time to feed your body movement will help you so much in the long run. It doesn’t always have to be heavy and hard, just consistent.

Defining a Great Workout During the Holiday Season

Single Leg Training – Why it’s important

We try to get at least one single leg exercise into everyone’s program each day. This is an important part of our program – something that builds strength, improves mobility, reinforces good movement and carries over to everyday life.  In sports and in life, a lot of moving (producing and applying force) occurs with predominantly with one side being loaded more than the other. That’s why it is a staple in our strength and conditioning programs.

Just like we view the squat as an essential movement pattern that everyone should strive for, the ability to make this shape on one leg is equally important. These shapes are movements like step ups, lunge variations, split squat and single leg squat variations as well. The same logic applies to the hip hinge, the deadlift shape.


 The benefits of single leg training:

More stability. Standing on one leg requires you to create more stability in the body, to resist rotation caused losing a point of contact with the ground. Stabilizing and not allowing your knee to cave in or your foot to turn is the same skill as screwing your feet into the ground when squatting. Without this, you won’t be able to do the exercise effectively.


Progressions. There are hundreds of different ways to make a single leg exercise more difficult, allowing for endless refinement of the skill. We can start out with a shortened range of motion, like a low box step up, then progress to a higher box, then add external load, from there you can off-set the load, increase the range of motion even more and so on. With so many different variations, there is always an appropriate exercise to find.


Easy to learn. For some people, especially those with back issues, single leg loading can be a more approachable movement. It can allow those with restrictions to get into some deeper ranges of motion early on in training too.


Hips! Since one hip is going into flexion while the other one is in extension, you’re getting a unique effect on your body that you don’t get when squatting or deadlifting, when those actions happen at the same time. You can imagine walking – one leg steps in front while the other pulls back.


Transfer. It has to transfer, or what’s the point? Single leg exercises are great to build strength, improve mobility and work on balance and stability. All of these things makes for a great exercise that can transfer to other movements in the gym.

We see these shapes outside the gym, so why not practice them? It will make you move and perform better.



Single Leg Training – Why it’s important