When one is teaching, two are learning

Sometimes it’s so simple.
Still, we fail to think of it. Afterwards, it’s quite awkward to think such an obvious thing didn’t cross the mind in the first place. But then it just didn’t.

I had a situation like that today, while teaching my conditioning class. Now „class“ is a bit of an overstatement here, it was more of a personal coaching with one of my advanced students, Doris. Usually, the conditioning class quite full. Today, however, with christmas being just two days away and the streets being covered in ice and snow, most of my clients chose to stay at home. Not that I was really surprised. This gave me the opportunity to tailor the session specifically to Doris‘ needs and address some points I sometimes have to leave unattended.

When it came to strength training, we basically did a modified version of Charles Staley’s EDT (escalating density training).
In a nutshell, the idea of edt is to do two exercises alternatively over a certain time period (20 minutes), with little to no rest between the exercises. After the time for that two exercises (let’s call them a „slot“) has expired, rest for 5 minutes and do another slot of two other exercises. Unlike the original program, our slots take 15 minutes while our rest periods between the slots last only 3 minutes. Also, I like using complex, total-body exercises, not isolated movements with little real-world carry-over.

In today’s session, I had Doris do the following:

Slot 1 (15 minutes) Slot 2 (15 minutes)
Exercise 1 Exercise 2 Exercise 1 Exercise 2
Turkish Get-Ups 4,5KG DB Deadlift + Shrug 16 KG KB Shoulder Press 4,5KG DB x 2 One-armed rowing 12KG KB

During the second slot, while Doris was rowing, I’ve noticed she started the set with her left side. This is unusual, most people I know prefer to start with their right (i.e. stronger) side and work their left side afterwards. So, when Doris switched to her right side, after doing the same amount of repetitions she’s done on the left side, I told her to stop the set so as not to build up muscular imbalances (it’s about developing habits here, I’m not actually concerned by developing imbalances after one session). That’s when she told me that this was the very reason she started out with her left side. Said she picked that idea up at the Shinergy[zone], our headquarters here in Vienna.

Think about it: you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get behind that concept. Whenever you force yourself to do more reps on your weaker side to match the count you did on your stronger side, you’ll basically be banging those last reps in less-than-perfect form, in the best case. On the other hand, just doing so many reps as you can do on your weaker side while mainting perfect form will adhere to Pavel’s advice to „do as much work as possible while being as fresh as possible“. Of course, you ain’t going to be very fresh after doing a couple of sets, but you won’t be impairing your movement patterns by forcing more reps in an over-exhausted state.

Of course, all of this is pretty obvious. Still, it struck me when I heard the simple sentence „that’s why I’m doing it that way“. I guess, this puts the old saying, „when one is teaching, two are learning“ into a new light.

Think about it.
So long,
take care.

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