How’s your Training IQ?

“With a partner, trading off rounds, you have 10 minutes to complete 5 rounds each. One partner working at a time,” are the instructions from the coach.

10 people nod their heads looking crystal clear, while one person looks confused and asks for clarification.

“So, I’m resting when my partner is working?” he asks.

“Precisely,” replies the coach.

As a coach, I have a lot of respect for the question-asker. I welcome questions before any task, especially the more confusing-looking workouts—the ones that, at first glance, appear like you need to be a genius to decipher!

The people who are more challenging to work with are the ones who either zone out during the explanatory part of the session and then don’t know what’s going on, the ones who don’t bother asking questions when they have them, and the ones whose workout IQ has proven to be on the low side (These are the people you will find working during the designated rest period, or doing burpees while everyone else is doing KB swings).

We get it: When you first start training with us, it’s overwhelming and challenging—almost like learning a new language. It’s challenging enough to remember all the new movements you have been learning, let alone remembering what an EMOM stands for, or how to read the tempo you’re supposed to be doing your Bulgarian split squats at. We get it. We were all there once.

And we also understand that one of the reasons you come here is because you get coached. You don’t have to think about what you’re doing because we’re here to tell you what to do every single training session. While this still holds true, YOU ARE ALSO responsible to learn our language.


ONE: It helps classes run more smoothly when everyone understands 90 percent of what is written on the board. The coach can then focus on clearing up any minor details and start to teach the class like a 400-level class, as opposed to a 100-level class.

TWO: A greater understanding of what’s going on around you will translate to a more fit YOU. The more you understand the smaller details, and the purpose of the movements and the workouts, the better you get. And the less likely you’ll be to screw up your sets and reps! It’s the difference between memorizing things for a test you’re studying for and truly understanding the concepts behind what you’re learning.

If you can relate to any of the below situations, it might be time to meet with your coach to help brush you up on a few things to help you improve your training IQ.

  • You have been here for two years and you still don’t know the difference between a muscle clean, a power clean and a squat clean, or between a strict press, a push press and a jerk.
  • You asked the coach last week, “What’s a thruster again?”
  • You see there are two minutes rest between rounds of the workout today. You think to yourself: ‘Pfffff, rest?? Why is there rest? I came here to work hard and sweat, not to rest between rounds!’
  • You’re still not sure whether 4 x 7 means four sets of seven or seven sets of four.
  • During a deadlift strength session, you put two sets of small 5 lb. metal plates on your bar and are confused when the coach gives you a hard time.

• You frequently wonder, ‘How much does this barbell weigh?’ ‘Is this a 35-lb. bar?’

  • You aren’t confident in your answer to the question: Which movements are the Olympic lifts?

• When you see the following, you’re not sure what to do:

Every 3 minutes for 5 rounds, complete:

15 Calorie row

10 Pull-ups

5 Hang squat cleans @ 50% of your 1RM

  • You never look at the whiteboard before class. You just wait for the coach to tell you what’s next.
  • You just dropped an empty barbell and are met with a concerned-looking stare from you neighbor. ‘What’s his problem?’ you think.

Any of the above resonate with you?

We’re not trying to intimidate you. Like I said, there’s a lot to wrap your head around and we appreciate that. It IS a bit like learning a new language. BUT, anyone can learn a new language; it just takes a little willingness and practice. So please, ask questions, and make an effort to practice, practice, practice. Eventually, like a new language, it will become second nature and you won’t have to think about it! This greater understanding will translate into your performance and fitness gains, which is really what we’re after.

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