3.02.2016

Training versus Showboating

You would think that all great training involves handstand push-ups, monster deadlifts, and backflips.

...But what does smart, effective training really look like?

The fitness and physical training world is full of good and bad information. I enjoy seeing videos of novel and plain spectacular feats of physical power, skill, and creativity. For example:




This type of video deserves a preface. Most physical movement that makes for an interesting video is not exactly "healthy" for you. And most appropriate exercises for improving health and performance does not make for a jaw dropping video.

"Hey - check out this killer prone horizontal glenohumeral abduction with scapular retraction."

Not much fun to watch:



So in the broad realm of videos that involve physical exercise, a simple label would be nice. The label should plainly define the activity as primarily for training or for showboating purposes. I have good reason to believe that athletes, laypeople, and even personal trainers often confuse the two.

Image result for show boatIt seems fairly straightforward. Training is to improve health and fitness toward some other end, such as wrestling, throwing a javelin, or sprinting fast. Showboating is done to display what your body is capable of right now. And yes, you can train for showboating. In fact, people often suffer injury when they try to emulate a showboat without appropriate preparation.

In both instances, the person involved hopefully has intrinsic motivation other than impressing strangers. But we will put that aside for now. Back to the main point.

This labeling is not easy because showboating versus training is a sliding scale. An activity may be legitimate training for one person but showboating for another. A backflip for a gymnast is absolutely training in preparation for their sport. A backflip for a soccer player is showboating.

The difference may be in degree. For example, a 315 pound dead lift is a legitimate training goals for a high school basketball player trying to gain some size and strength. But a basketball player trying to grow his dead lift from 400 to 500 pounds - well that's showboating. That's unless he is interested in changing his primary activity to powerlifting, in which case the 500 pound dead lift would be justified.

Showboating versus training may also depend on the current abilities of the athlete. A pitcher who is already throwing a 90 mph fastball may want to settle more on training for balanced stress and maintenance of stability and alignment. For this athlete, doing power cleans with heavy weight is showboating. But heavy Olympic lifts may be justifiable for a pitcher who needs to quickly add 5 or 10 mph to his fastball in the hopes of getting a look. The risk:reward is different for these two athletes. An average athlete can and should push the limit in training far more than the star athlete.

Jumping onto a metal box while holding extra weight - a truly stupid display of showboating by a valuable high level athlete.


So the best you, the trainer or athlete, can do in the end is ask yourself...

"Am I doing this for improved health and performance? Or is this showboating?"

I'm always for intelligent training. I see this literally transform the lives of athletes and what they pursue outside of the gym.  But there is also a time and a place for showboating. Don't confuse the two, because one of them is far more likely to elicit "whoos" or ruin you.

Labeling this showboating and not training...while I'm still able.

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