|11-27-2007, 01:32 PM||#1|
Mastering the Fundamentals article
Here's an article I wrote for people new to exercise and weight training on my blog andrewsfitness.blogspot.com. Little of this will seem new to Crossfitters.
All That Matters Are the Fundamentals
Mastering the fundamentals is the most important thing you can do if you want to achieve your potential.
When it comes to anything but exercise, I am just like most people: I want the quick fix or the "hot tip" or the latest trend. I want something or someone else to do the work for me. Especially when it comes to spending less or eating less, the first thing I do when I want to change something is to jump on the Internet and look for some article to show me how to get it done without the requisite effort. I'll do anything to control my finances but spend less money. I'll do anything to lose weight but eat less.
Not when it comes to exercise, though. When I fell the need to get stronger or fitter (which is all the time), I always go back to the simple things that work. When it comes to exercise and getting fitter, "simple and hard" are always better than "complicated" and "easy." "Simple and hard" is a set of heavy deadlifts (picking the bar off the ground and putting it back down) or squats for low reps. "Complicated and easy" is multi-directional half-lunge with a rotating dumbbell one-handed press on a balance board. Which exercise is mentally easier to perform? The second one, no question. Though it might appear to have many difficult components, the second exercise requires only coordination, not strength. The deadlift, however, requires strength and coordination -- and lots and lots of effort. The deadlift is a fundamental movement pattern. In fact, the deadlift is so fundamental to human movement that with it a human being is able to lift the most weight possible. Think about it -- picking something heavy off the ground -- it doesn't get much more basic than that, does it?
The most brilliant lesson I ever learned from my instructor was that you cannot ever ultimately excel in any endeavor until you have mastered the fundamentals of that endeavor. What is the difference between the side kick of a new black belt and a fifth degree black belt? About a million perfect repetitions. The fifth degree not only has practiced the side kick until he has mastered it, but he has practiced the move so well that he can't not do a perfect kick, even if he tried.
Now admittedly, this anecdote about martial arts applies a little more to skill work than to program design, but let's think for a moment how to apply the mentality of the fifth degree to fitness. What has this master spent more time on than anything else in his training career? It's not spinning flying side kicks or crazy combinations. No, this master has worked on jab, reverse punch, and sidekick, the three most elementary movements of tae kwon do. Jab, reverse punch, side kick; jab, reverse punch, side kick; jab, reverse punch, side kick. The master is a master not because he can do impressive looking high level forms (or kata), he is one because he trained the fundamentals more often, harder, and with more zeal than any other movements. If you want to become truly fit, not matter what your exact goal is, you must spend the bulk of your time working the most fundamental movements in the game: squat, deadlift, presses, cleans, snatches, swings, pullups, dips, and so on.
Here's a handy guide:
If you get stuck in training, the first thing you should do is go back and look at the fundamentals and see where you need work.
If you need to get faster for a sport, the first thing you should do is go back and look at the fundamentals and see where you need work.
If you haven't worked out in a while and want to get back into it, the first thing you should do is go back and look at the fundamentals and see where you need work.
If you are feeling tired and you don't want to work out, you should work on the fundamentals.
If you are feeling awesome and full of energy, you should work on the fundamentals.
If you don't know what to do next in training, you should work on the fundamentals.
If you think you have worked enough on the fundamentals, great! Celebrate by working on them some more.
Whether you are a weightlifter, a martial artist, a parent, a lawyer, or a banker, the message is the same:
Always work on the fundamentals. Always. Never neglect the fundamentals. Never.
What it takes me several hundred words to says, the ultimate master Bruce Lee can say in far fewer:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” -- Bruce Lee
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