The Watch and the Compass 1

A few weeks ago, Susan and I went to the California Revels in Oakland. Susan has been going for almost 30 years! The Revels are, at the core, a musical play that has participatory elements celebrating winter solstice. While there are some elements that continue from year to year, each year the story is told in a different context of culture and time. This year the theme was An American Journey. Here is the story line for this years show:

It is December 1934, the depths of the Great Depression, and Johnny Jackson finds himself wandering aimlessly, wondering what life holds in store for him, and where he should go to find his destiny. He encounters The Magic Man who sends Johnny off to the four directions in search of where he belongs.

What spoke to me about this particular show was that in the first scene, the Magic Man trades Johnny a compass for his watch. I love the analogy of differentiating between the compass and the watch because I think that was one of the hardest things for me to learn as I matured as both an athlete and a coach, i.e. when and how to move as quickly as possible and when to consciously not worry about time. Dan John addresses the difference between clock-based and compass-based workouts in his book Intervention (he names the types of workouts slightly differently, compass-based is called park bench and watch-based is called bus bench). In fact, he thinks the differentiation between these workouts is so important, it is one of his five principles he uses to achieve athletic goals. Specifically, the different types of workouts are defined as follows:

Bus Bench Workouts: Expecting results on time, like you’re hoping the bus will be. These are the workouts for time (especially those that are shorter and more intense) or workouts that you would use in the six weeks before an important event or goal.

Park Bench Workouts: An opportunity to explore and enjoy where you are in training. These workouts are the either AbDomination workouts, Get It Done or workouts for quality of movement.

About half of our current membership has been with us for over 4 years, so most of you have seen a slow transition over the last few years to adding more Park Bench workouts. I would say that for most people, at least one, if not two, conditioning workouts a week are Park Bench style. You probably have noticed in the last few weeks, we are starting to dig deeper into trying to help our athletes find where they are in their progressions for body weight pushing and pulling movements. While we are not going to add or subtract to the ratio of Bus Bench to Park Bench workouts, the coaching staff at MDSoF is going to make it more clear to our current and future athletes both how to do both types of workouts and, probably most importantly, and why we do both types of workouts.

At the end of the Revels, the Mystery Man trades Johnny his watch for the compass after he finds his path. Our goal for 2015 is that you have a very solid understanding of where you are with your body weight pressing and pulling movements (and many other movements), as well as how to regress them to make sure the movement is solid (i.e. how make them more Park Bench-y) and also how to progress them to add challenge through intensity and/or load (how to make them more Bus Bench-y).

If you need help, with either the concepts in this article or where you are in any of your movement progressions, please ask any of the coaches or set up an appointment with either Saul or Susan.

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