Integrity is one of the most underrated attributes of an athlete. Because I think it’s so important, I make sure it’s a big part of my teaching when I welcome a new 40 Days to Fit member. I try to drive home the importance of counting reps and performing movements correctly. I think we could all use a refresher, even our veteran athletes, from time to time on why this is such an important piece!
Integrity, by definition, is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Integrity is one of the most important qualities for leaders and is not only the quality of being honest to others but to ourselves as well.
Why is integrity important when working out?
It’s ALL about STIMULUS. We program for STIMULUS. Any time you cut reps in a workout, you are not allowing your body to hit the stimulus being asked. While you may be worried about coming in last in a workout and feeling “embarrassed”, I am here to tell you that you are looking at this the entirely wrong way.
I am a coach and even I come in last in workouts. My goal in every workout is to give my best effort whether I come in first or last. I love showing up to challenge myself in movements that are not my strong point (for those who know me….thrusters- YUCK). I know I won’t be first in a thruster workout, but I do know that I will come out that much stronger on the other side.
Honestly, I would much rather be the last one to finish a workout, than to finish high up on the leaderboard knowing I didn’t complete the workout the same as everyone else.
Integrity in Movements
So why is your coach always on you about a full depth squat or a full range of motion pushup?
Did you know that when you squat below parallel, you are actually engaging your entire posterior chain?
That means you are activating your glutes and hamstrings along with your quads. Not only will you end up with a stronger squat, but you will also be building adequate muscle to protect your knees! Building to a full range-of-motion about a plane will actually INCREASE your performance and DECREASE your injury rate.
Here’s an example of how much you may potentially be setting yourself back just to “earn” that top spot. Let’s say for instance you do 15 squats instead of 20 squats in a 4-round workout. That means you did 20 fewer squats than everyone else who did the full amount…so while they were getting stronger, you just cheated yourself out of the same thing!
What about the half reps- you know like a quarter squat wallball? You are actually building a quad-dominant base that has the potential to increase your risk of injury. Maybe you struggle to actually hit full depth on movements and that’s ok. Lifting a weight off plates or squatting to a box are always welcomed ways of modifying. We WANT you to get better, we WANT you to be injury-free, and we WANT you to climb the leaderboard…just in the right way!
But coach, what if I am really tired on rep 15 and think that I can’t actually do 20 reps? Well, I am here to tell you that your mind will almost always want to quit before your body. It does this as a protection mechanism, but your body still has the full capability to keep working. When I tell you it’s all a mind game…it really is!
For some athletes and certain movements, rep ranges should come down to preserve STIMULUS (there’s that word again). But this should be done with the goal of stimulus over the scoreboard. And facing an obstacle, rather than evacuating to the easy way out.
The truth is, we will all come in last at some point, but that isn’t what our focus should be. Who cares who is first or last? I want to know if you feel like you got better today!
Our focus should be on the growth mindset and knowing we got that much better today. Our focus should be on the community and staying until the end of class to cheer on the rest of the people working. Our focus should be on knowing that we all are striving to reach a common goal.