Originality Is Overrated

Hill Running

One of the biggest problems with today’s fitness industry is the false assumption that we must constantly reinvent the wheel. Many young trainers have been brainwashed to believe that new ideas are always superior to those that came before. Anything beyond a few years old is considered outdated and archaic.

Results > Originality

While such notions are clearly ridiculous and unfounded, I expect this problem to magnify in the years ahead. As the fitness industry continues to shift its attention towards the online market, more and more trainers will find themselves struggling to avoid being lost in the crowd. After all, it is impossible to stand out if you only do what others have done. Right?


Since when did originality become more important than results?

I’m all for improving upon old ideas when possible and occasionally coming up with something new, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that humans have been around for thousands of years. Exercise is not new, nor is human intelligence. Plenty can be learned by studying those who came before us. Trainers are paid to develop athletes. That’s what we do. I am not paid to be original. I am paid for results. Therefore, I will use whatever methods produce the best results.

Hill Sprints and Rope Skipping

If you have followed my material for any amount of time, you probably know that I am a big fan of hill sprints and jump rope training. Running hills and skipping rope have long been two of my favorite conditioners. I do not engage in these activities because I invented them. I run hills and jump rope because they work.

Athletes have jumped rope and sprinted hills for longer than we have all been alive. I don’t know who invented these activities and I honestly don’t care. Results are my only concern.

Walter Payton hill sprints

As a kid, I grew up watching Walter Payton dominate the National Football League. He was an absolute beast on the field. I would always imitate him when I played tackle football with my friends. To no surprise, Walter Payton was also known for his hard work off the field. He is one of my early sources of inspiration for hill sprints. Walter Payton ran hills, so I wanted to run hills.

Walter Payton also skipped rope, so I wanted to skip rope.

Walter Payton jumping rope

Walter Payton was one of my early inspirations, and I’m sure he had inspirations of his own. We both worked hard with exercises that have been used for centuries. There wasn’t anything original about it. We weren’t worried about originality. We were too busy focusing on results.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I am not suggesting that there will never be opportunities to improve upon the past. We should always strive to improve. Just don’t be so quick to dismiss ideas from previous generations. As an athlete or trainer, results must be your primary focus. No one cares if your methods are new or old. They will only remember the results that you produced.

Never let originality take precedence over success.

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“Originality is the art of concealing your sources.” – Benjamin Franklin


  1. And this is why I consider you one of my greatest influences. Simplicity over complexity as always. Great article.

  2. As a long time weight trainer, I have seen it all. It’s all usually bullshit, made to sell some chrome machine.

    The workouts I favour are basic compound movements, 3 exercises. 5 sets of 5 reps. It was done by Reg Park in the 50s. More effective than and triple drop, pre exhaust, giant set workout.

  3. Hey Ross,

    What advice would you give to people that experience shin splints and pain in their Achilles when they jump rope and run hills?

    I warm-up prior to skipping and running but still experience bad pain. I have good fitness and flexibility so I’m not sure why this happens.

    Thanks in advance!

  4. @Peter – Shin pain is typically the result of excess volume. In other words, you (at one time) may have performed more work than you could handle. Inadequate shoes and/or hard floors can add to the problem.

    Unfortunately, there is not a quick solution. First, you need to discontinue any jumping/bounding movements that may contribute to the problem (ex. rope skipping, running, jumping, etc.). Once you are pain free, I would then begin working with exercises such as calf raises and toe taps. Strong calves are often quite useful for shock absorption. Toe taps can eventually be made more difficult by adding resistance. One low-tech solution is to hook your foot through the handle of a backpack and lift it upward with the foot (bringing the toes towards the sky). You can do this by hanging your foot off of a bed.

    Eventually, you can ease back into rope skipping, but I would do so on a cushioned floor initially. I would also keep volume VERY low.

  5. So true with the results. We may think we have made a better plan, but unless it has better results, it is not better. So much confusion where a person tries a new plan, no magic bullet, switches, still no luck – their problem isn’t the plan, it’s the unrealistic expectation that some new plan will deliver more than the old plan.

    I’ve simplified what I’ve done over the years, removing more than adding, because I found that however original or ambitious, the New and Improved did not do anything but leave me frustrated. I hated lugging around my notebook documenting my performance on a multitude of drills got frustrated, and ditched it.

  6. Results are the only thing that matters! But you sure are right that the fitness industry is flooded with new salesy trainers and instructors, claiming to have reinvented the entire World of workout.

  7. Hi Ross, first i want to thank you for all the hard work you put on your website.

    I wanted to ask you a question about conditioning by hill sprinting. I’m an amateur boxer and i usually do 2 hill runs by week, besides training 5 days in the boxing gym. The hill is approximatively 3 kms long with a 10% slope. There is also a very interesting set of 150 stairs in the middle of this one. On the wednesday, i do sprints on the stair set, climbing as fast as i can, and i come down jogging to catch my breath, and then again i restart this for 10/12 “rounds”. On the Saturday, i usually do an 8 kms run, including the 3 kms hill. Here comes my question :

    I feel that each kind of work is different and very effective but which one is the most?

    I’ve got only 2 days by week to work especially on these runs and i would like to do the best thing on these days to get the best results possible.

    Do you recommend doing one workout over the other on the 2 days? Do you recommend the 2 workouts as i do? Have you got any better idea on what i could do with that kind of hill?

    Thank you very much, and keep up the great work!

    PS: English is not my native language and i tried my best to avoid any mistake, so please don’t mind! (and same for using the metric system!)

    1. @Jack – Your current approach is certainly worthwhile. You have some variety in terms of how you are attacking the hills. That is typically a plus. It’s useful to run at different speeds throughout the week so you are not putting all of your eggs into one basket. The variety will prove useful, particularly as you begin to eventually fight longer duration bouts.

  8. I’m originally from the south side of Chicago, and I have run up some of the hills at the dunes where Payton trained. As a kid, I remember the steep upward climb being brutal,particularly in sand. That’s a training space that beats a gym, even an elite one. Regret that steep hills are kind of in short supply where I live now, but there’s a few that will be great once winter rolls around.

  9. Hey Ross!

    Thank you for this post!
    I totally agree. Have been following what you do for quite a few years and am a great fan!! I always thought I was pretty fit, but you man, with your fire, impressive body strength, 1 arm wheel rollouts, you put me to shame 😉
    Love your no BS stuff… totally!
    Keep it up Ross man! 🙂
    Best regards,

    1. It’s a freestyle rope from buyjumpropes. It’s the same model I used in my jump rope DVD. I’ve been using it for years.

  10. Hi Ross, great article! As a group fitness and dance instructor in the past, I have definitely been guilty of trying to have the most original/unique/newest moves etc. workout, and not focused on results of my participants.

  11. There is proverb “Old is gold” , “Old wine always tastes best”. There is so much that young new comers or newbie can learn from experienced ones.
    Very inspirational post. Thanks for sharing with us.

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