Shrugged Collective

How We (and Diane Fu) Define Progress in the Gym – EPISODE 150

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“If you really want something in this life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”

– Dan Castellaneta

I love Dan, and you probably do too. After all, he’s the actor that provides the voice for Homer Simpson on the righteous and timeless cartoon, “The Simpsons.” I’m a fan, who isn’t? But who knew the guy was so wise outside of that bright yellow 2D space?

Dan’s quote perfectly summarizes one of our biggest challenges in the gym – The numbers.

If you want to achieve something on the platform then you have to accept that there are no shortcuts. You have to work very, very hard. But who doesn’t wish for their lottery ticket? How much time gets spent time on hunting for alternative programs, clever exercise hacks, or fancy equipment upgrades?

You know what you should be doing but cannot help playing the game. It’s not all that different than trying to when the lottery. But if that’s how you choose to play then the odds are quite good that you’ll be left holding that ticket and not much  else.

So, do better.

If you want to be strong and successful in the gym then you have to progressively, methodologically, and patiently drive your training loads upwards. There are no tricks or tickets to be bought. Strength isn’t discovered so much as it piles up, you dig? It’s a consequence of work, so work.

You also have to keep some other key, trainable factors in mind. You have to expand your definition and conception of PROGRESS, and what it should personally represent.

We’re talking about progress this week because we were inspired by the lovely and amazing Diane Fu. Just in case you missed it, you must read her Daily post, “My Definition of Better.” It will change the way you train and coach, without question.

When it comes to the snatch and the clean & jerk, more is not always better. In most Crossfit gyms, it definitely is not. A lift that is more beautiful and more smooth, reserved is superior to a lift that is just heavier. The gap between refined, powerful human movement and lumbering brute strength is very, very wide. The numbers hidden factors come bubbling up quickly, especially when you ask the commonly strong to give the snatch a try.

You have to be refined. 

Strength happens, remember? It follows work. It piles up as a consequence of toil. But it also follows discipline, patience, confidence, education, you can go on and on. If you want to be truly strong, you must progressively, methodologically, and patiently improve EVERYTHING!

For Diane, the point isn’t to shove more weight on the barbell at any cost. That is brutish. Her view instead is the very definition of refinement. “Progress to me is an athlete that moves from following behind me, to standing next to me, to eventually surpassing me as their coach.”

That’s a standard that leads to excellence across the board in life, not just temporary PRs. Know the difference.

Mike, Doug and I each have our own unique definition of progress as well. I hope you stick around to the end of the podcast to hear it right from our mouths. I think it will carry more weight for you that way, so to speak. Instead, I will just reinforce the point that matters most – You must place your focus on quality over quantity. You must refine.

Make yourself better in all the ways that matter most. Back down and move better, the weight will come I promise. Set your standards higher. Study the art of weightlifting with much more effort.

You will be rewarded.


Chris Moore


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Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?


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