Good At Some Things, But Great At Nothing.

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Good At Some Things, But Great At Nothing.

“Good at some things, but great at nothing”. Back in college I had a mentor who used this phrase to describe undergraduate students who were classified as “generalists” in my major (which I was… and he reminded me, on occasion). What that meant was, instead of picking a specific area of technology to specialize in, we focused on doing a little bit in every area. Programming, multimedia, construction, etc… we did it all. The problem with this, as he saw it, was even though we could do everything pretty well, we never spent enough time in one area enough to fully maximize our potential. In essence, we we’re just average at everything… and who wants to think of themselves as “just average”? The same can be implied to strength and conditioning, and one’s goals.

Okay, I get it. You want to be generally stronger, faster, leaner, healthier, etc… And you mean “general” in every sense of the word. You don’t exactly know what it all looks like, but you know you want it all… preferably now. Like, right now… or at least for it all to start happening all at the same time. So what do you do? You start working on it all. You lift some weights, and watch your food. Then you run, and bike, and swim, and hike. Then you lift some more weights… light weights, and heavy weights. Sometimes you lift them fast, and sometimes you lift them slow. You PLAY around with it all… and I do mean “play”. It’s musical chairs, only with weight lifting, and exercise programs. Now the music’s stopped, and your butt is no longer sitting on a chair.

What’s the result of this hodgepodge of programs and strategies? A hodgepodge of results. Maybe you’re faster and leaner, but weaker overall. Maybe stronger, but get winded walking up a flight of stairs. What are you really expecting though?

I’m not sure exactly when the term SPECIFICITY became a “four letter word” in strength and conditioning (probably around the same time as “Periodization”). However, now, the idea of spending a focused amount of time in one area or discipline is quite taboo. Phrases like “being prepared for the unknown and the unknowable” are thrown around adnoseum, and the idea of having to do everything, all the time, is perpetuated as the best way to get a good level of GPP (General Physical Preparedness).

Ok, so you’ve got a day job, and just want more energy in order to play with your kids, not get winded running up stairs, or hurt yourself moving furniture… and look good naked (can’t forget about looking better naked). Fine, but specific goals require specific, mindful, actions. You can’t hope to gain considerable strength while cutting calories and fatiguing yourself by running, or biking for hours before you’re suppose to be lifting heavy weights. Nor can you “lean out” simply eating whatever you want (“Paleo” or not). It just doesn’t work that way.

There is often a logical progression to things. Sometimes you may need to spend a focused amount of time working on a specific area, or weakness, in order to improve towards an “overall” end goal. For example, you need the strength to lift the bar off the ground before you can even think about Snatching it overhead. Focus on the area that will benefit you the most in achieving your goals, first. Then progress to another area later, if need be.

Remember, working towards a goal actually means you’re progressing toward achieving that goal.

By | 2012-08-29T05:34:35+00:00 August 29th, 2012|In The Gym, Movement, Nutrition & Health, Outside the gym, Paleo, Uncategorized|3 Comments


  1. Jenny LaBaw August 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    GREAT post Justin! Take this to heart people and really think about what you want and how you want to get there. Ask us as coaches if you’re not sure of the best approach. We offer a wide variety of classes and some may be better for you than others…remember more isn’t always better. If you want to get stronger, you’re taking strength class but then you’re out riding your bike and running and doing elements the other 3 days during the week…we may have an issue. LOVE LOVE LOVE the post Justin!

  2. Renee Sacks-Smith August 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I really like this post too Justin, as my hubby the Basketball coach often told my son, “what is your goal?” will being a 3 sport athlete really get you there? or is it better to focus your efforts on one sport thus pursuing your long term goal in said sport. His opinion is as an aspiring professional athlete, our you need your season playing your sport, then an “off season” to work on sharpening sport specific skills to be better for the season, then some downtime (just being active and general workouts) to let your mind and body recover. So far it has paid off for him and looks like its time for me to think about that around my fitness goals instead of just getting it done…!! got me thinkin…

  3. Tod K. August 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Ok Justin and Jenny – I am 53 years old and want to look and feel like those fit 30 year olds in the level 1 class. Please put together a program that does not include a hair transplant, hair coloring, plastic surgery and Botox. That is my goal! Get to work on it! Do you believe in miracles?!

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