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Where on the pyramid should you be focusing on to make progress?

It’s about a pyramid…

Everyone is interested in making progress.  Whether it’s fitting into clothes they’ve grown out of or adding 10kg to their squat, but how each person should be expending their energy in the pursuit of reaching their goals should vary.

Here we’re going to draw some parallels between some extremely elegant models that use a triangle as their framework and a way of working out what you need to be doing to make progress…

When Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs it talked about how progression to the next level up was predicated on being fulfilled in the level below.

When Glassman drew up a theoretical hierarchy of athletic development it showed that a lack of attention on lower layers meant that the top couldn’t be as tall as some people might want it to be.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Questions shows that virtually everyone can ask and answer questions that are simple in nature found lower down the pyramid, but the number of people who can legitimately ask and answer higher order questions reduces as the complexity goes up.

Enough of the parallels with other systems and onto the actionable steps…

If you are relatively new to training, have just returned from a long break or have broad ranging goals that aren’t very specific then you need to spend time at the bottom of the pyramid.

This means doing a bit of everything without favouring one thing over another.  This is all about building a foundation and by making sure you are doing a wide variety of things you make sure that no element of your fitness is getting left behind.  When you are new to training you’ll also find that whatever you do will positively impact all of the other fitness qualities you’re building – go for a long run one day and watch your strength numbers go up in the days afterwards.

As you progress up the pyramid in terms of your strength and fitness levels, what you have to spend time on to increase your capacity has to become more focused.  There can be fewer other things going on that absorb your energy.  You’ve probably started to develop higher levels in certain areas than others and now you want to either push those higher (you’ll need to focus more on it) or you’ll want to bring up weaker areas (you’ll need to spend more time on them at the expense of your stronger areas).

That might seem too vague for you to conceptualise, so let’s use concrete examples:

At the base of the pyramid we have John.  

John decides that he wants to get a bit fitter and a bit healthier so starts coming to Second City Fitness 3-4 times a week.  The varied programming means that John is always being challenged and will make progress for an extended period of time if he just shows up and works a bit harder than he thinks he wants to.

Further up the pyramid we have Nick.

Nick has been training for a few years pretty consistently but has recently noticed that whenever the workouts involve a lot of cardio work he’s getting left behind.  Nick realises that to stop himself feeling like this he’s going to have to do something different to what he has been doing.  It could be as simple as swapping one of his CrossFit workouts each week for a 45 minute session on the assault bike (it’s probably best to discuss this sort of stuff with one of our coaches though).

Near the top of the pyramid we have Chris.

Chris takes this fitness stuff seriously.  Chris competes at a high level but just can’t make the breakthrough to the next level.   His fitness level is super high but whenever the weights get heavy in qualifiers or in competitions he gets left behind compared to where he wants to be.  Chris probably needs to do a full audit of where he is and redirect the majority of his training time and energy towards getting stronger – this might mean doing less fitness work, seeking expert help and doing things radically different to what he did before.

Want to talk to us about how you can start making your way up your pyramid? Book your FREE No Sweat Intro today

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