More Me, Myself, and Dan John (and Pavel, this time)

I learn a lot whenever I read Dan John. And Pavel. But I think the Quadrants is Dan’s baby. And it is a great framework!

A quick reminder: the quadrants are about number of skills, and skill levels needed to perform in a given activity at the highest level:

  • Q1 – Many skills, low proficiency – Kid’s sports
  • Q2 – Many skills, high proficiency – most team sports
  • Q3 – Few skills, low/medium proficiency – weekend warriors, recreational athletes*
  • Q4 – Few skills, high proficiency – skill sports (eg lifting)

UPDATE: (*) the master himself has commented on my earlier post and has pointed out that I misunderstood Q3. It is corrected there, but for my arguments here it does not matter I believe

The Quadrants are very useful if I want to look at the question how to optimally train a given athlete to achieve a well defined sporting goal (eg, better at lifting, running, playing soccer). For Weekend Warriors (competitive athletes at a sub-elite level) one might have to introduce some Quadrants (Sixtants?) Q2minus and Q4minus though that would be like Q2 and Q4, just with lower skill levels. Q2m and Q4m training would be somewhat similar to Q2 and Q4 training – on the one hand the level of performance is not as high, on the other hand, neither is probably the genetic potential and the support infrastructure (including training time) so ultimately the considerations in Q2m/Q4m might be very similar to Q2/Q4 – the means of course would be very different! I don’t really care though – my personal concern is not training soccer dad’s to win the local cup, but I am into general health and fitness.

So rather than looking at the Weekend Warrior as defined above I want to look at the Recreational Athlete whose goal it is to improve general health and fitness – a bit like the original CrossFit, but without the Games, and without the my-Fran-is-shorter-than-yours considerations. There the model of the Quadrants is a bit coarse, and it is better to take a step back, ie to look at skills, and proficiency-per-skill, with proficiency levels ranging say from none over low/medium/high to elite.

As an Recreational Athlete, my goals are likely to have the highest aggregate skill level across all skills (…whatever this means in detail…) subject to the following constraints

  • Net health impact must be positive
  • Net fun impact must be positive
  • Resource consumption (time, money, will-power, energy) must be reasonable (or at least, affordable)

Chances are, that within this framework, this is more or less the same as the following

  • Address all “no skills” areas: the minimum level for each skill should be low
  • Avoid imbalances; eg don’t start working on getting a skills to high before there is a good base of medium skills

Now this is certainly a nice framework, but as a consultant I am well aware that frameworks are a dime a dozen – what matters is whether they can be applied to achieve tangible results. I have to work on this one, but I am positive – it sounds like a good way of thinking about it. And some of the obvious conclusions from such a framework seem pretty reasonable:

  • Don’t try to push your squat to double bodyweight (which I’d classify as medium) if you can’t run 100m / 400m / 3k / 5k at least in a reasonable (“low skill”) time
  • Don’t run a marathon. Full stop. Run 10k instead.
  • Play different games. Try to be good enough in all of them rather than dominant in one of them.
  • If you are a meathead, do some Yoga. And if you are a Yogi, move some iron

…to be continued…

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One thought on “More Me, Myself, and Dan John (and Pavel, this time)

  1. Pingback: WOD’s the plan – Five-a-day for 21days | Thor Falk

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