Fundamentals, like basketball free throws and perfectly run routes in football, are critical in sports. With the goal of winning championships on his mind did Jerry Rice, while training into his early 40’s ever stop running perfect routes in the off-season? Does Ray Allen, one of the greatest free throw shooters of all time, just throw up a couple from the line at the end of his workouts? I doubt it. Deliberate practice is a concept covered in detail in the book “Talent Is Overrated”. Speaking very generally, much focused effort with consistent feedback is required to be on the right track toward reaching your goals.
The same goes for the strength and fitness world. It’s tough to get in great shape or build impressive strength by simply going through the motions. Pavel Tsatsouline said it best when he said strength is a skill. When an athlete or client trains with me I want them to improve both their movement skills and strength. How are we going to do that? To take a page out of Dan John’s book, through repetition. Now that doesn’t mean lifting light weights for hundreds of reps. What it does entail is practicing and perfecting fundamental movements and exercises on a regular basis. Only a few reps at a time, but consistently and with feedback from your own body or coach. Quality over quantity is the key here. There is much to be improved and learned about your own body through the practice of various squatting, deadlifting, pushing and pulling movements plus the kettlebell swing and get-up. The same can be said for jumping, skipping, shuffling, stopping and going. With anything, being great at the basics sets a good foundation for success.
Whether you’re a parent, a practicing lawyer or a college athlete there is only so much time that can be dedicated to the weight room. As an athlete you’ve got homework and play calls to remember. If you’re a working parent the busy schedule is never ending. Because of this, it is my firm belief that to both stay healthy and reach your goals outside of the gym it is best to keep it simple and stick to the basics. Do a few things, and do them extremely well. This approach may not be very exciting and new but it will help maximize your time and effort. While a 1-legged BOSU jumping squat thrust and press might be really hard and make you real sore, it’s a waste of time as far developing any sort of strong healthy body. Learn the fundamentals of movement (squat, push up, get-up, swing, etc.) and practice them repeatedly with variation and/or load.
Fundamentals. Mastery of anything is a never-ending process. Whatever your goal or sport, stay focused and keep practicing.