When “Going Light” is Wrong

Controversial title, I know. Here’s the deal. This isn’t about bravado or ego. It’s about adaptation. It’s worth clarifying for students and coaches alike that, unless your workout is a sport in and of itself, the reason any exercise is prescribed in the gym is to send a certain signal to the body to guide adaptation.

We ask our students to squat and hinge and run and jump not for these movements’ own sakes but, rather, for what comes of doing them. This assumes all sorts of important characteristics of these movements. Some need to be done at a certain speed, some in a certain range of motion, others in certain positions, and some a combination of all of the above. We don’t power clean to power clean. We power clean to develop power (amongst other things), for example.

The same is true when it comes to the variable of load. “Heavy” is a relative term and going heavy doesn’t mean you need to be interested in lifting heavy as a pastime or intensity as a preference or have an ego for that matter. The load is a specific prescription for a specific outcome. Therefore, when the prescription is heavy “going light” isn’t a thing. It’s a mismatch of stimulus and often a waste of time.

This begs the question, “But, what about safety, Logan?”  Well, let me tell you. Load isn’t a license to deviate from efficient movement patterns. Rather, increasing load demands increasing attention to detail in this area. That being said if every time the training day prescribes a heavy load and you dodge it to “go light”, you’re developing a gaping hole in your GPP and the most common glass ceiling on your potential in all other areas. If you cannot perform the prescribed movement with a (relatively) heavy load, it’s often better to perform any movement loaded heavy than to “go light” with the prescribed movement.

Most GPP athletes can remove the governor on their overall fitness potential by allowing themselves to go heavy. If you’re not comfortable with the skills required to go heavy in the movement for the day, let your coach put you in a simpler, safer scenario to load your system. After all, virtually any athlete can drive a heavy sled!


Logan Gelbrich


1/28/19 WOD

Sumo Deadlift

Complete the following for quality:
10 Barbell Good Morning (AHAP)
20 DB Death March (AHAP)

Then, complete 6 rounds for time:
250m Row
50 Double Unders
10 Overhead Squats (95/65)