CrossFit Exercise selection The map or the territory Training theory Weightlifting

The map or the territory pt 1

“In early life I thought of studying economics, but had found it too difficult!”

Max Planck

In order to optimize performance, training theory has followed it’s fellow scientific endeavors looking deeper and deeper into details of their fields of study in a search for more detailed models of the world. These models are thought to provide more insight into underlying factors of performance. By uncovering them we can then design more meaningful training interventions. This manifests itself in metaphors like “the man as a machine”.

Similar to what Sigmund Freud did in psychology, when he presented the idea that thoughts and emotions outside of our awareness continue to exert an influence on our behavior. Even though we are unconscious of these underlying influences, physiology too has focused on hidden thresholds and reduced causal models of explanation for performance. The hope is to create better and more stable athletes built “from the ground up” and upon more basic conditions for performance than what can be seen with the eye alone.

While this project certainly has merits, it can also obscure the vision from what is “hidden in plain sight”. When searching for what is within and by looking deeper behind what is apparent, you will lose sight of how a scientific area is connected to other scientific areas: how things “just work” in the common world. When one has dug a deep enough hole, he can no longer see over the edge.

Complex biological systems (nature, humans…) are characterized by the fact that they consist of lots of interconnected dependencies in the different parts of its whole. A system constantly exposed to both sensitivity and noise, and a system of constant change.

It’s also quite easy to get stuck in a loop of trying to uncover more and more of these underlying factors, rather than to carry on with whatever knowledge we already have at the moment.

Better than using a detailed map to navigate an ever-changing landscape, like a glacier, would be to routinely triangulate your position and endure living with the degree of inaccuracy and uncertainty that comes with not knowing exactly where you are. Even though the belief in the perfect map gives a sense of security, it is a false feeling that risks leaving us blind to what is actually happening.

Simply observing what we have in front of us is often hard to do.

In order to be able to compare efforts and athletes we usually take the leap from qualitative observation to quantitative data collection, and by doing so removing them further away from the context where they were observed. How do you quantify “fast” or “slow” or “hard” or “easy” without delimiting them by turning them into numbers? Numbers fit so much better in spreadsheets for statistical analysis.

Not only are we by doing so removing the effort out of its context, we are also risking to try to affect these new numbers rather than the situation they emerged in.

You don’t want your planes to get shot down by enemy fighters, so you armor them. More armor makes a plane heavier and heavier planes are less maneuverable. They also use more fuel. Armoring planes too much is a problem; armoring planes not enough is also a problem.

During the second world war the American army was studying the planes returning from battle and kept reinforcing the areas of the planes that had the highest number of bullet holes. However, more and more planes were lost despite their added protection.

This continued until the statistician Abraham Wald noted that the military only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions. Since they didn’t, or couldn’t, look at the specific battle situations where shots were fired, they failed to see the planes now rendered unavailable from assessment. Wald instead asked: where are there no bullet holes at all?

As aiming at moving planes is not that easy, especially in those times, he figured that the damage would have been spread quite equally all over the plane. Since this did not adhere to the observations, he was fairly sure he knew where the missing bullets were: on the missing planes.

The reason planes were coming back with fewer hits to the engine is that planes that got hit in the engine weren’t coming back. The armor, he said, shouldn’t go where the bullet holes are, but quite the opposite, where the bullet holes aren’t.

At the end they managed to logically figure out a way of protecting their planes. But all of this would have been quite clear if they had not only looked at the data, but also kept an eye on the actual action.

“Mathematics is the source of a wicked intellect that, while making man the lord of the earth, also makes him the slave of the machine.”

Robert Musil

The technology to measure oxygen consumption first arose in the early 1920’s. Using that ability Hill and Lupton found that there appeared to be a maximum limit to oxygen consumption, when despite increases in speed, their VO2 consumption did not also increase any more.

After this most studies in exercise science have been evaluated on the resulting change in VO2max rather than actual performance (such as ability to stay with a breakout, handling of different sections of a race, movement form or even something simple as average speed over a distance). VO2max is less variable and more tolerant to changing conditions. It also happens to fit well into columns of spreadsheets.

As outcomes are increasingly measured by a specific construct, they start to shape the outcomes themselves. Researching training interventions using this or that variable as the standard of success, will slowly shift the training interventions to strengthen just that variable rather than something else. They become self-reinforcing as you will always find more of what you are looking for, and less of what you don’t. Even though that variable might have a very poor transfer on actual sports performance (or health for that matter).

Whenever a new parameter is discovered or introduced, a large degree of emphasis is put on that parameter in the research.

Several new ways of taking measurements of biological processes have had similar impact. With the ability to portably test lactate, research was centered on ways to improve lactate threshold. With the ability to measure force, other variables came into the limelight, such as Functional threshold power or Critical power.

If we all agreed on what math problem we were trying to solve, then we can sit down together and say, hey let’s calculate! But sport and life is messy. We might not agree on what we’re trying to optimize and we also have a lot of uncertainty about what the consequences of our actions will be. 

Even with access to great data, not everything’s an optimization problem. Ultimately it is crucial that we understand the limits of the technology we leveraged to help us to navigate our complex world and the values that often invisibly determine how we use it.

“For years we have seen study after study attempting to compartmentalize intensity domains based on an assumption that there is some physiological decompensation point. However we reach no clear consensus on this. First it was MLSS. Then VO2 kinetics. Then FTP and CP, but none are conclusive. Perhaps we are looking for something that isn’t there.”

Dr. Jeroen Swart

We are starting to see why Max Planck, awarded the Nobel Prize, once said that he saw economics as a harder discipline than his own field of theoretical physics: due to the inherent need for subjective judgments. Dealing with humans, is dealing with unpredictability. This could certainly be said about exercise science too.

We often think of these measurable physiological variables as clear cut, defined markers. We use them to train at different thresholds and to classify our training as such. We assume that the transition is clear and that these parameters represent some sort of boundary line, and that improving them leads to better performance.

All of the above mentioned concepts can be helpful, and used to organize and guide training but we need to understand that they do not by themselves represent increased performance. That they do not represent a clearly defined transition. Physiology is complex and messy.

There is no sport of highest VO2max, Critical Power or peak wattage. We should not be so in love with a measurement so that we forget to look at how an athlete handles specific situations of their sports.

”I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

Roy Batty, “Blade Runner”

When you put a pot of liquid water on the stove it is in a steady state. All of the collective molecules exist in liquid form. As soon as you begin applying heat and pressure the state begins to change. At any given point in time we are unable to predict which molecules will make the transition. They exist at the edge of chaos. Provide enough heat and pressure and over time and they will eventually turn into a gas.

Complex systems, such as humans, have interesting properties. Strong interactions between their parts, feedback, emergence, self-organisation, adaptation, growth, change. None of these are a simple linear process. Large interventions in a variable does not necessarily have a large effect on the expected variable of interest. Similarly, a small intervention can have large and unexpected outcomes. Just like a “perfect storm” – a combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event.

At first this unpredictability is hard to reconcile with. But maybe it’s not necessary to know exactly how a specific performance in such a system emerges?

Continuing with the “perfect storm” analogy, it might be important to provide individuals with periodic interventions that are delivered under varying “atmospheric” (i.e., psychological or life states) conditions. This means providing repeated opportunities to practice this self-organization under realistic conditions.

Consider “Chinese water torture” – a drop of water continuously hitting the same spot on your head for a long time would not bother you at all, but eventually it would change your behavior completely (driving you mad, so don’t use the analogy literally with your athletes).

“We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place [..] The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Start with what you see. When do athletes struggle in racing or during competition? Describe those situations without explaining why they happen. Separate these situations in the training program and practice them with some variation.

The level of difficulty and overload should not be too high. This might push the system into interpreting the situation as something altogether different from the game-day skill. But not so little that the athlete can complete every repetition with a 100% accuracy (how could a system operating perfectly be pushed into change?).

To practice “what you see the need for” has a few advantages over to base training prescription on hidden underlying qualities

  • By doing so you will measure its success by exactly the outcome which you want to improve. This prevents you from getting lured in a separate direction by confusing some other variable with performance on the field. Every improvement will have a large transfer from training to performance, making small increases in capacity highly valuable.

  • You will move into a territory of training which your athletes are familiar with. This helps communication between the two of you. Communication should not be under-valued. When coaches speak the language of science only, how can athletes be expected to understand the drills they are given? You are more likely to get success telling your athlete to “sprint out of that corner as if you would like to get a gap on your opponent” rather than something along the lines of what percentage of VO2 or speed to hit.

    It will also help you to get relevant discussions on how to tweak the drills. Although athletes might be lacking in scientific knowledge, they tend to know a fair bit about their sports, and these discussions easily extend into how to use the skills you have been working on when discussing tactics.

The downside is of course that you will have to be open with the fact that all you can offer is educated and well-founded guesses. That there is no magic pill. That all the certainty there is to find is that continually doing the things you wish to improve at over time, with some variance and with some overload is what might increase your capacity (mostly by ways of a sudden phase-transition).

If I could have gotten one dollar every time someone asked me for an assistance exercise for a problem – let’s take the execution of the weightlifting movement of the snatch for instance – and seen the disappointment in their eyes when my first choice of exercise was to do exercises not completely different from with is done in that movement. I’d rather pick an exercise to emphasize or correct the point of the lift where I felt the problematic outcome initially did arise.

This places a lot of demand on the coaches communication skills in order to get the buy-in from the athlete. A buy-in which you could have gotten by dangling a mathematical carrot on a stick in front of the athlete. It will also in my experience bring about more compliance and less injuries when you get the athletes involved in the actual process.

I started working with this young and gifted athlete from Portugal a few years back. He had made the transition from Volleyball into CrossFit where he now had some success, qualifying and performing well at the 2018 Regionals. He also struggled with some of the integral movements of the sport, such as the weightlifting movements – most noticeably the snatch.

He was catching most of his Snatches in front of him, forcing him out of balance. Unfortunately we live at quite some distance and cannot do better than to have close contact over the internet. After a lot of questions and answers and sending videos back and forth we agreed that he had trouble already at the starting position, struggling to find initial balance against the floor. This in turn leads to his position being too upright when the bar passes the knee. His joints then are not properly set up to allow him to hit what in weightlifting is often referred to as the Power position

Without going into too much detail, the Power position allows for rapid extension of the knee and hip along with plantar flexion, in a sequence called the proximal-to-distal sequence, where extension on the joints one by one allows at least one joint to have a favorable translation relationship throughout the full extension. The failure to hit this position can force the barbells necessary vertical movement slightly forward, getting the lifter into all kinds of problems catching it.

Over the coming period we did quite a lot of

  • Snatches from power position, with clear instructions on what would constitute a “good rep”, having him to learn and discover on how to generate force from that position. If he could not move from this position without a slight “swinging motion” or if he had to jump forward in the catch he would know that he did not find his Power position properly.
  • Snatch deadlifts, playing with and learning how balance felt. (Balance is tough, as it is really the absence of feeling. Athletes sometimes tend to seek out more distinctive tension, something they feel, as you would find when you are more on your heels or on your toes)
  • From knee to power position and from floor to power position.
  • Full snatches involving the feeling for positions he learned by the above exercises.

Slower, faster… Mixing it up with some fatigue and eventually hitting the positions and moving between them became more second nature for him. 

Not once did we do any movement that was fundamentally different from the movement that he struggled with, hoping to increase some “underlying quality” possibly holding him back. Surely, we still trained those underlying qualities, if they existed, by overloading and stressing the movement that involved them. With the added benefit of a more direct transfer and possibly better understanding and feedback of his process.

We also did not measure the performance of the assistance exercises, more than if they successfully challenged the positions where we thought we saw a lack of efficiency and balance. They were always viewed in the light of the performance of the full snatch.

João has gotten more proficient with this movement: here he is, at the end of a 30 minute workout, hitting a 110kg Snatch, rowing 500m in 1 minute and 40 seconds (something not done without breathing hard), then hitting another 110kg snatch just after coming off the rower something that he could not do in isolation before.

Is this the best way to conduct training? Certainly not always! There will always be cases that are different from all other cases. Every method has its place. 

It is a simple process helping you not to get completely lost in the “data” jungle, or if you are, to find your way back onto the field, where the actual athletes live.

Stay tuned for more examples of practical implementations of these principles in part 2.

Problem solving Training theory Weightlifting

The end is just the beginning

What we call the beginning is often the end // And to make an end is to make a beginning. // The end is where we start from.

T.S. Eliot

Skills can be enormously complex, such as playing a musical instrument, making a lay-up in basketball or performing a weightlifting exercise. In such situations the trainer might have a hard time to present all aspects of the skill at once or the student might get overwhelmed by the size of the task. A frequent approach is to divide the task into several units to be practiced in isolation. This approach is often called parts practice, and the idea is to master and then integrate the parts into the whole skill at a later time.

However, some claim that practicing parts of a task in isolation transfers little if at all to the whole task, especially if the task is rapid and ballistic. They would argue for the practice to be structured as whole practice, where the full exercise is done regardless of it’s complexity.

This is reminiscent of the Holism that was summarized in one of the principal works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle as “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. The idea is that the reduction of the whole to its constitutive elements eliminates some factors. Some sort of synergy that is lost if we separate them. The holistic perspective is seen in diverse intellectual, religious, cultural traditions and diverse disciplines throughout history.

True myth may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is.

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Irish Potato Famine has gone down in history as one of the worst tragedies in modern history. In 1845, a fungal infestation, Phytophtthor infestans, made half of the potato crop in a single year inedible and then the blight lasted for another seven years. When the hunger ended in 1852 about one million Irish had died from starvation and a culture had been destroyed.

While the fungal infestation might be technically to blame, what made the situation so severe was the lack of bio-diversity. The idea at the time was to optimize the food production and thus mostly all farming was switched to growing the same variety of potato, a variety that had recently been shown to be very efficient to grow. Had a greater variety been planted the blight would not have hit Ireland as hard as it did, for other strains would have had different exposure to the infestation.

The take away is that reducing and overloading parts (regardless in agriculture or training) means to reduce variety that could protect from downside. And that something is inherently lost in the process of reduction, which will reduce the transfer of training. Both which directs us to make the constraints of practice as loose as possible.

Traditionally cognitive science has viewed high levels of movement variability as a problem for humans when learning a movement. Repetitive practice is often conceived of as gradually reducing the amount of movement pattern variability viewed as noise and the magnitude of variability in performance has been viewed as the foremost way for assessing the quality of control.

But movement scientists have often struggled to come to terms with the complexity humans must overcome to produce even simple movements. The infinite redundancy, yet flexibility needed to navigate the world. There are such a vast number of ways for humans to perform a movement in order to achieve the same goal, that it is hard to understand how the nervous system is not overwhelmed by all those degrees of freedom.

According to Bernstein, who initially formulated the problem, the coordination patterns for complex tasks such as playing that instrument, making that lay-up or performing that snatch begin as fixed, rigid linkages between body parts. This early learning strategy helps people cope with the extreme abundance of degrees of freedom. If the task is beyond the learner’s capacity the problem of controlling the movement system is managed by dysfunctionally constraining the available freedom of movement.

One obvious example of this in the world of weightlifting would be to “lock up the hip” in the snatch turning the exercise into something looking more like a starfish than a flexible weightlifter.

Oh, that infamous “starfish snatch”

This has lead scientist to think that sometimes less variation would mean not to imply quality of control, but quite the opposite. It seems learning would be maximized when finding the optimum amount of stochastic perturbations in a movement for more, but not too many, degrees of freedom to open up. Too little “noise” and no new information is provided to the learner to gradually unfix the initially strong couplings between muscles and joints. Too much and the movement becomes to rigid to be performed in a constructive way.

This phenomenon is well researched and called the contextual interference effect. Adding some variability, or “noise”, in the form of irrelevant movement components or difficulty when practicing movement can lead to better learning than when practicing simple movement patterns alone. This amount of exploration for the correct response to a changing landscape of performance forces learners to adapt their movement patterns regularly, increasing long-term learning benefits.

We would be better as trainers if we would define ourselves from the problems we wish to solve or the advancements we wish to make rather than what is too common: from the methods we use. For every exercise prescription we make we should always have an specific outcome in mind. Is it to synchronize the catching of the bar with stability into the ground? Is it direction of force? Amount of force? Bar control or body control?

If we think along these lines the method we use become secondary. And with purposeful movement constraints we are more likely to direct learners to the external consequences of their movement patterns rather than the internal processes of producing that movement. Shifting the attention towards the desired outcome of a movement, rather than on how it is accomplished has been shown to both enhance performance and skill acquisition. But to allow for this external focus of attention we need to always think backwards, from the end-result of a movement typical to display behavior we would like to reinforce. Then adjust the complexity of the movement pattern so that the learner can succeed, but not simple enough to be performed perfectly. The key is finding that sweet spot of learning, while still anchor it intentionally, at the end result.

We could do this with any skill in any sport but let’s take the barbell snatch as an example. If the behavior we would like to reinforce is to be able to catch the bar with slightly bent knees and hip, rather than to mimic a starfish, then the end position we should start to design our exercise for this is exactly that position. Then we need to gradually include more complexity to the skill, finding where the athlete becomes so overwhelmed with “noise” that he or she cannot intelligently handle the abundance of choices, forcing, for instance, the dysfunctional freezing of the hip and knee.

This is done by gradually adding distance of the movement, in the example of the snatch that would mean distance traveled by the bar, and then, while maintaining that distance add speed of the bar. For every increase of complexity we assess if the movement is now trained at desired difficulty, if we are still are able to catch the bar the way we want us to, but that doing so is not easy.

When working with external objects we have the option to add to complexity at each position by decreasing the time available to react by increasing the weight of that object, but there are drawbacks to this strategy as it is something that also tend to alter the intermuscular strategies used to perform the movement, and this might limit the contextual transfer of the skill.

Rather to think from the ground up when designing constraints we should start from where the desired outcome is performed.

Depending on where we first see this happening we can purposely construct a constraint forming “the optimal whole” to reinforce specific outcomes and address specific problems. This would be likely to transfer more to better movement than working with parts smaller, or larger for that matter.

Martins training Problem solving Weightlifting

A case study in problem solving: saving the snatch

Let’s take a short detour before continuing on the series on coaching and talk about something very dear to me: the snatch and why it is important in a strength and conditioning program.

Part of my work is as a weightlifting trainer. I teach “the lifts”, meaning the snatch and the clean & jerk, as a part of my job to build better athletes and as a educator employed by Eleiko, the leading manufacturer of high-quality barbells in the world. I am heavily invested in them and knowledgeable on when they are useful and when they are not.

But that does not fully explain my love for the lifts: When I’ve been injured (and I have been injured many times since I have been doing sports for almost 40 years) I have always been the most worried when I have not been able to do these specific lifts, and particularly the snatch. Going from training hard to lift as many kilos as possible (despite that being quite few) I have, when faced with the possibility of never again snatch a barbell, almost been depressed. I am not meaning to reduce the people that actually have this psychological diagnosis, but it’s the only way I can describe just how much I love the movement of the snatch. And how strong my drive is to be able to do it again.

I’ve always worked back to it, and every time my efforts to lift aesthetically better, capturing and getting energized by the rapid coordination under load, the display of ease and effortlessness when you get it right, for me it’s poetry in motion. The weight have not mattered to much to me the last couple of years, I was never that strong anyway. And by no means is my technique perfect. But I can still remember those snatches where I just got that out-of-body feeling of weightlessness only to come back to my senses sitting in a deep squat, balanced both down into the floor and up against the bar.

Many more times than I would have liked it to be the last couple of years I’ve been at the doctor where the phrase “too bad that broke out when you was this young” has been spoken. And while already 45 this year, it’s still a little too early for some of the hereditary diseases I carry with me. One of them is Dupuytren’s contracture which is more common in the Nordic countries than anywhere else in the world, and is a condition in which one or more fingers become permanently bent in a flexed position. I have always known that this might impair my ability to lift at some point, and it surely affect my gripping ability to some extent already.

But it was not this that put a stop to my snatches, but two bones having gotten crushed together and now forming a large osteophyte (bony projection) on the top of my left hand. This affects my extension of the wrist causing my quite some pain when extending together with radial deviation and loading at the same time.

Every time I’ve snatched the barbell pulls the wrist into such a position and I experience pain, both acutely when I do the movement as well as the coming days and that is why I haven’t snatched a barbell since early 2019. Regardless of how silly it would be to say that I must to be able to do what I help my athletes to do in order to be a good coach, I can’t help but feeling exactly that.

So late last year I made an effort to check it out thoroughly with x-rays of all the different types, analyzed by all the doctors. And it does not look like I can fix the damn wrist. Not only that but there are much more problems with my joints and apparently “you will be in quite some pain at some point of your life”. Well, that I don’t know but I’ll cross that bridge if I get there.

When it comes to training there are alternatives. Actually quite good alternatives, and some coaches even thinks that the olympic lifts are far over-valued tools in the coaches toolbox. The normal arguments against them are

  1. They take to long time to learn – the lifts are complex, perhaps the most complex lifts that there is, and that the time learning them could be better invested in other things.
  2. There are better options for power – loaded jumps create more force at a faster rate.
  3. True ballistic/throwing/tossing options are better – lifting barbells require deceleration before the catch.
  4. Mobility restrictions make them hard to perform to it’s full extent, and some mobility restrictions (as poor ankle dorsiflexion) almost makes the deep catch impossible.

And I would agree with the above mentioned objections apart from the time to teach them – maybe that says more about teaching ability than the lifts usefulness? But I do all the jumping: loaded, unloaded and assisted. And I do a wide variety the ballistic movements. I do this every session in the gym, because I agree that they are better as primary exercises to improve rate of force development.

This is just one example of one of all those exercises (by the way, jumping with heavy medicine balls is brilliant, I don’t know why I’ve never seen anyone do it – much easier to let go of at the top of the jump to save from the loaded landing than with dumbbells or trap bars).

“An efficient pattern catches this weight, not a group of muscles. This amazing feat of power and skill cannot be done without near perfect flexibility and perfect application of coordination, quickness and power. This is mobility and stability at its finest, working behind the scenes so the prime movers get all the usual credit.”

Gray Cook

Regardless of what you think of movement screenings as the one advocated by Gray Cook in his “Movement” book, you can’t really disagree with the thoughts on the olympic lifts? When you drop the notion that they must be primary lifts, and instead think of them as the perfected assistance lifts providing you with everything you need when it comes to teach the body to leverage it’s muscular systems.

  1. It’s an amazing joint screening tool – if you can catch a bar deep and correctly provide exactly the pressure needed to sit upright there you are OK.
  2. It reinforces muscular balance for other heavy training.
  3. It build resilience in the entire kinetic chain, from feet to shoulders.
  4. The demands of coordination provide a foundation on which will favor all other training.

The more time and energy you can put into the primary lifts the better and faster adaptation you will get. So not spending too much time on assistance exercises makes a lot of sense and if you can do one exercise only to adress almost everything, then you have struck gold.

And as the physiologist Bengt Saltin said at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland a few years back, that “mobility is a vital issue for the elderly person” and that he “recommends people exercise both the upper and lower body in order to maintain flexibility” and adding that “we should spend our whole lives gearing up to having as pain-free an old age as possible by leading an active lifestyle”.

It would seem vital to work to keep the mobility and stability that I have because not only do it result in fewer falls in elderly but also in improved recovery when they do occur. And while this could be done with multiple different exercises it is preferably accomplished with the most demanding and complex one: the snatch. Because all the jumps and throws in the world can not substitute the snatch despite all the rate of force development they can provide!

So let me not wear sackcloth and ashes and be depressed anymore, and instead think on how we could once again reap the benefits of the snatch. And since it does not seem to have to be performed with heavy weight in order to provide most of these benefits, maybe we can use that to change the movement so that it does not produce the same amount of radial deviation as this is what causes the acute pain.

Let’s think it over: the wider the grip the more deviation, but the narrower grip the harder demands of upper back and shoulder mobility. While this is hard, especially for an older guy like me, if it is be possible it would actually be more beneficial despite restricting the possible weight to be lifted. If not functioning as a primary exercise, then this is not a problem.

(lifting in jeans and with untied shoes is optional)

I have now done two sessions with a narrower grip, and while I need to address some of the chain reactions from the different bar position (where did that donkey kick come from?), I have done snatches again with zero pain. When adding a little more to the bar the weight did force the wrist into a painful position, but it might be doable with a narrower grip, which I probably need to “future proof” me anyway. Regardless I will work towards that.

My philosophy is as always “better small and frequent hits than large ones seldom” and I think that doing one or two sets in the warmup or at the end of each session should suffice. And if not, then I’ve at least tried and will have to think of other strategies (because giving up is not an option).

Featured photo by Joel van der Vie