The Last Rep Rule

14 11 13 Last rep 2

I was recently touring Europe with Kelly (Mr Supple Leopard of mobilitywod.com fame). Apart from experiencing some culinary delights (such as haggis in Scotland) we did a lot of thinking about “what do we care about in our training”. Here’s one of the ideas (well, actually it’ll be a rule from now on, enjoy!) that came up:

“Last Rep Rule”

It was early on Saturday morning before the CF Movement and Mobility seminar at Thames and we were getting ready to do “Grace” (30 Clean and Jerk for time). As the seminar participants were about to come in soon, we didn’t have a very long time for warm up. Just about ready to go it was time for “3..2..1..Go!”. I had decided to do singles all the way to practise setting up faster (I knew that my time wouldn’t be as fast as with touch and go but quality of movement was my priority). My goals were to set up correctly each time, open my hips on each jerk with an upright trunk on the dip and to not stop moving. While I worked hard towards these goals, some of my reps were sloppier than others. I kept adjusting after each rep with Kelly’s feedback. Then I got to the last one, pulled the bar up on my chest and let the bar fall from overhead after finishing the jerk. Kelly called “no rep, that looked like s**t”. After a millisecond of hesitation, I knew he was right, walked back to the bar and finished the workout, focused, with my best rep of the day.

Last Rep Rule is an idea that I should move better on my last rep than on my first one (since I had all the previous repetitions to practise for my last one) and that my workout is not over before my last rep is a good one. You can judge the quality of the rep by feel (as good form also feels good) or your friend/coach can give you feedback.

Paraphrasing the famous John Wooden, there is a difference between winning and success. Winning might look like hitting a new PB, completing each rep with terrible form. Great, you were faster but what did you learn from this? How to move poorly? How does the way you moved in this workout translate to how you will move and feel in the next one? Success is “doing your best today to become the best you are capable of becoming”. This applies equally to attention you put in the quality of movement as it does to intensity of your effort. Virtuosity (doing the common uncommonly well) is your ability to maximise these two together, not just one or the other.

While we can help you to stick with the “Last Rep Rule”, it ultimately comes down to your honesty to yourself. Ask this question at the end of each workout, “Was that really the best I could do today?”, and if the answer is no, you know what to do.


Workout of the Day:

5min EMOM:
5 OtB Burpees
3 Clean & Jerk 60/40kg
– Rest 1min –
5min EMOM:
5 OtB Burpees
2 Clean & Jerk 70/50kg
– Rest 1min –
5min EMOM:
5 OtB Burpees
1 Clean & Jerk 80/55kg
– Rest 1min –
2min AMRAP C&J 80/55kg

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