Fitness is multi-faceted and most people only pay attention to one facet at a time. We look at all of it at once. We try to develop a broad and inclusive fitness that prepares you for anything and everything. In that endeavor we often talk about the 10 general physical skills of fitness:
- Cardio/Respiratory Endurance
A good read for fully understanding fitness can be found in the "What is Fitness" article on the CrossFit Journal.
But today I want to talk about another way of thinking about fitness and an argument can be made that this is the best litmus test for your fitness. This metric is Position aka posture.
Each and every movement the human body does has an ideal start and finish position. These positions are stable and static. They require full range about the joints and are ideal for performing the task at hand.
Fitness is your ability to maintain those positions under duress aka intensity. As the intensity of your workout increases do your positions change? When you move faster do things fall apart? When you deadlift heavier are you able to maintain those ideal positions?
The proper position is the most effective and efficient way to start and finish a movement and also set you up for success in the actual movement between the start and finish. The more efficient you can be the more work you can accomplish in a shorter amount of time and thus have a higher work capacity and a high work capacity across broad times and modalities is how we define fitness.
I've seen people that have a decently high level of cardiorespiratory endurance crumple into a ball during a hard 5k row. They were unable to maintain ideal positions throughout the workout even though their lungs were fine. Their head was hanging, cocked to one side and their back was rounded like a question mark. With each stroke of the row, they were wasting energy, not being able to transfer force effectively into the rower to go faster.
This is why we focus so much on technique and drill positions on our lifts. It's important to know those positions like they are second nature. But just drilling the patterns isn't enough you have to challenge the positions. This means pushing yourself just hard enough for your positions start to fail (either because of speed or because of load) and you have to work really hard to maintain them. If you are unable to maintain them then you're going too heavy and or too fast. But if you don't continue to challenge your ability to maintain position your fitness will plateau. If you want to improve your fitness improve your posture. Improve your positions.
Next time you're going through the motions of a workout check-in with your positions and see if they are easily achieved or if you're really having to work hard to not move like a doofus. Then just keep challenging your ability to maintain good positions.
Now go live better.