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  • Writer's pictureZac Zuspann

Is "Cherry Picking" Holding Back Your Fitness?

The decision whether to show up to the gym based on the scheduled workout of the day (WOD) is often termed as "cherry-picking" in the fitness community, a phenomenon recognized by both trainers and athletes. Certainly, we all have our preferences, and certain workouts may feel more enticing than others – one individual might thrive on heavy deadlifts, another relishes the challenge of a 5K run, and another digs pullup, push-ups and air squats.


Let's delve into why exposure to a diverse range of exercises and workouts benefits us – and why the workout we're inclined to avoid might actually be the most beneficial one for us to tackle.


Well-Rounded Fitness = Versatility + Durability


"Outlift a runner, and outrun a lifter" - Be a versatile human

The essence of well-rounded fitness lies in its ability to prepare us for any physical challenge at any given time and to have the freedom to pursue any adventure we may choose. This means embracing a training regimen that requires you to show up and work hard EVEN when the workout may not be in your wheelhouse. These days pull us outside of our comfort zone and give us the much needed stimulus towards well rounded fitness.


Each day presents a unique set of challenges that push the boundaries of our skills and capabilities. This diverse stimulus fosters adaptations that enhance our readiness for the unexpected – the unknown and the unknowable. It demands a fitness regimen that is comprehensive, inclusive, and adaptable – the hallmark of a robust general physical preparedness (GPP) program. Narrow, specialized training regimens leave us vulnerable at the fringes of our experience, whereas broad, all-encompassing programs ensure holistic development and readiness.


Embrace the idea of being STRONG and FAST and FLEXIBLE and WELL CONDITIONED and HIGHLY SKILLED, but also the idea that this demands you show up 4-6x weekly forever!


Variety creates durability.

In the pursuit of a durable body, variety in fitness proves to be an invaluable asset. Just as a diverse diet nourishes the body with a spectrum of nutrients, diverse exercises and activities fortify it with a range of strengths and abilities. The body, akin to a resilient machine, thrives on challenge and adaptation. By engaging in a spectrum of exercises — from cardiovascular pursuits like running and cycling to strength-building activities like weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, as well as flexibility-enhancing practices like yoga and Pilates — every muscle, joint, and system is challenged and strengthened in different ways.


Variety not only prevents the body from plateauing but also guards against overuse injuries by distributing stress across various muscle groups and movement patterns. Just as a building's foundation benefits from different materials and support structures, the body becomes more robust when subjected to diverse stimuli. Moreover, the mental aspect of variety cannot be understated; it staves off boredom, keeping motivation high and ensuring consistent engagement with fitness goals.


Ultimately, a durable body is one that is adaptable, resilient, and well-prepared for life's physical challenges. Variety in fitness serves as the cornerstone for achieving this, laying a foundation of strength, flexibility, and endurance that withstands the tests of time and activity.


Common Reasons for Cherry-Picking


"It's too challenging for me."

Often, the reluctance to engage with certain workouts stems from a perceived lack of proficiency in specific skills or physical attributes, such as gymnastics, Olympic lifting, aerobic capacity, or strength. Fear of failure, vulnerability, or the misconception that inability to perform certain skills equates to exclusion from the workout can deter participation.


"I don't like that."

Preferences play a significant role in our workout choices. Some exercises or formats may be less appealing to us, whether due to discomfort, monotony, or personal preference. However, prioritizing wants over needs can hinder our overall progress and development.


" Everyone else is better than me at that"

Comparison not only steals joy, but also consistency and progress. It is vital that you only focus on you and what you are in control of. Your attitude. Your effort. Embrace the journey at the gym, even if you feel like you're lagging behind others. Remember, the only comparison that truly matters is the one between who you are today and who you were yesterday. Every individual has their unique starting point, strengths, and areas for growth. The essence of fitness lies not in outperforming others, but in surpassing your own limits. Each session you complete, every rep you push through, is a triumph in itself, regardless of how it measures up to someone else's. So, let go of the urge to compare and instead focus on your progress, however small it may seem. Your dedication to showing up and putting in the work is what truly counts


"That is all we are doing?!"

This mindset is often observed on days focused on single modality efforts, such as a 5K run or heavy lifting sessions. However, these seemingly straightforward workouts can offer profound opportunities for intensity and skill refinement when approached with dedication and focus.


Strategies to Combat Cherry-Picking


Embrace the Idea of Training Diversity: Make it a mantra for you and share it with your training partners that you are training to be versatile, durable, and well rounded!


Envision Future Benefits: There is nothing more satisfying than taking a WEAKNESS and turning it into a STRENGTH. When a test presents itself in life or in the gym and you have been cherry picking, you will regret not showing up on those days :)


Emphasize Skill Development: Not every workout needs to leave you gasping on the floor...The beauty of embracing well rounded fitness is understanding that some days will be very low intensity and dedicated to learning and practicing new skills. During training, these skill focused days can feel slow, lethargic, and unproductive in comparison to high intensity work, BUT understand that these sessions are just as important for long term success. They are creating the framework for a HIGHER CEILING of potential AND giving your body a much needed break from volume and intensity. There is huge value of specialization within a general fitness framework. A dedicated focus on specific elements can enhance overall performance and carry over to multi-faceted workouts.


When Cherry Picking might be the right call...


Strategic cherry-picking can be needed in injury management and sport-specific training.


There are times when the juice simply is not worth the squeeze for individuals with limitations or very specific goals.


For individuals nursing injuries, avoiding movements that worsen their condition while opting for scaled alternatives can aid recovery without setbacks. Likewise, athletes supplementing their sport training with CrossFit can strategically skip or modify workouts conflicting with their primary training, ensuring their regimen complements rather than detracts from their sport-specific goals.


All in all...


Every workout presents an opportunity for growth and improvement. By embracing diversity and challenging ourselves to tackle even the most daunting of workouts, we lay the foundation for comprehensive fitness and readiness for whatever challenges life may throw our way.






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