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The paradox of scoring in the gym (and in life).

What is scoring good for? Where might it create potential to get lost down a path of comparison?

Let's ponder shall we?

Most of us have heard about Roger Bannister, the first to break the sub 4 minute mile? If not, here are the cliff notes.

There was a time where that was thought impossible.

For many years no one could break sub 4. It wasn't until Roger did, that many more did soon after. Years of it not happening, then all of the sudden many could.

Once the standard was set, and seen as possible, we broke that psychological barrier.

This is a great example of the benefits of scoring.

Scoring is a great tool we utilize at the gym. It provides a way to receive feedback for our efforts.

A measurement.

Scoring can also tell a lie.

The benefits of scoring:

  • It allows you to understand important components of the workout that day. Be that intensity as it pertains to load or speed, sustaining a pace, split times, etc. We can use scoring to emphasize where we want you to go hard, what to focus on, and to better understand the intent of a single workout.

  • It allows you to figure out how to scale. If the fastest person in the room was 10 minutes faster than you, and our goal is for everyone to go through similar intensities relative to our abilities, then knowing this information would allow you to adjust. Next time your time could be more in line with the fastest time. The opposite is also true here. If your time was 10 minutes faster than everyone else in the room, and you didn't RX the workout, maybe it is time to consider making it harder. This doesn't always apply, but it is a good rule of thumb.

  • It gives you feedback on where you are, and when tracked over time, allows you to assess how you have improved. We should be growing in some capacity. If we never keep a score, it is tough to understand how and where we are improving. This is part of owning our training, rather than simply doing a workout for the sake of doing it. Performance is a cool ya'll!

  • It creates integrity and vulnerability and can increase cohesion as we put ourselves out there with a score measuring our effort.

The potential negative aspects of scoring:

  • We could lose some integrity with ourselves if we aren't honest with our effort. Not doing the work we said we did so we look stronger, faster, or better than others. It could be rep shaving, time shaving, movement standard shaving, and the list goes on. If you lie about your score, consider why. This is not to shame anyone. It is part of life. I'd simply invite you to consider the above and below and make a shift.

  • We could get lost in comparison and lose sight of our own effort being the most important part of what we are doing. This could create unhappiness with ourselves if we let our ego do all the driving here. Sure, it is good to aim for first place... but earn the ability to make that type of effort. First place is sweet when you live to fight another day. Not so much if you reached outside of yourself and got injured in the process of going for it. This is a training/movement practice environment, not competing. (This doesn't mean it isn't ok to compete, go for it! Just know where and when to do so).

  • We could be the one upper. Instead of giving our best effort, we barely beat the fastest person... simply to beat them. Don't get me wrong, if you need a little motivation that day, and competing with someone helps you give your best effort, then go for it. But REALLY go for it! Beat them by as much as possible. It could also be beneficial to find some internal motivation to push, that doesn't come purely from competing with someone else.

Your score means nothing about you.


It does allow you to see what is possible and aim in that direction. It could help you set goals for yourself and give you motivation for your training. It does give a path to increasing performance.

Performance is a great thing to be in the pursuit (process) of. The score can be the byproduct (or result/destination) of an interest in increasing performance.

Shoot to get the best score YOU can and give YOUR best effort on the day. Record things and keep track of them. A year of not keeping a score looks a lot different than a year where you see the progress. That is where scoring really matters.

Put an honest effort up, do this over time, and the goals you have for yourself will all come.

Remember, I am here with you in this work. There is no shame in having gone through any of the above. Just set your intentions back on something that serves you in a positive way. That is unique to YOU.

Keep going.

Coach D.

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