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He who knows the Way Broadly...

Updated: May 11, 2020

"He who knows the way broadly will see it in all things." -M.Musashi


Today's world of specificity, niche communities and micro-mastery often cause a person to loose focus of the more fundamental principles that exist within all of the disciplines of exercise and skill development that we may choose to pursue over our life time.

Whether it be team sports, fitness, weightlifting, martial arts, dance or play; human movement is perpetuated through a series of core principles. Much of what I'm going to relate here may seem obvious. Well, as a professional coach and life long enthusiast of movement and physical activity I can humbly admit that after 37 years of diverse application, I am only now beginning to connect the dots and find simple systems of relation that are useful in improving all and any of the disciplines mentioned.

The 1st and most paramount of all skills to develop is BREATHING. Learn how to breath correctly. Explore how to breath-in the largest volume of oxygen possible in a natural way and practice it daily. Discover how modifying your breathing can change your physical, emotional and psychological states. Learn how breathing can switch your nervous system response between activity and recovery. Finally learn how correctly applying your breath during complex movements will enhance or diminish the results you wish to achieve. The single most important and critical activity you will ever engage-in during your life is breathing. FInd a coach or correct techniques on how to breath to achieve the states listed above and you will have discovered a tool that will help you exceed 99% of the population in the activities you choose to pursue. (In a future article we may delve into specific techniques.)

The 2nd skill necessary in learning how to progress optimally is the MIND-MUSCLE connection. Paragons of health and fitness both far and wide have extolled the virtues of the mind-muscle connection. Learning how to consciously activate and relax the muscles of the body seems like something that is obvious and irrelevant. However, most adults cannot consciously control the contractions of their muscles in a significant way. Most every child can squeeze their biceps or push the tummy out, but how many adults or children can flex their pectoral muscles on command or their deltoids or lats? Once a basic connection is established with the muscle, the real work must begin. The forgotten art of isometric training is our answer on how to increase that connection. Taking time to practice contracting our muscles and squeezing them to produce ever greater levels of force is one of the most useful and least communicated exercises. Similar to a Bodybuilders posing routine, any athlete, or person interested in their health, should actively pursue full body, powerful muscular contractions with regularity. This is how we learn to forge great levels of strength and coordination within the muscles themselves and between related muscular groups.

The 3rd and last skill I'll mention is the power of the imagination... VISUALISATION. Visualisation is a practice that is often written about in many fields, business, personal well-being, organisational practices and many other ambits. Visualisation is a muscle like any other. It requires daily care and intentioned practice to make it ever more powerful. The ability to imagine the body performing the skills we desire to learn and connecting those images to proper breath work and muscular contraction will exponentially enhance the time and quality of the practice we engage in. Dreaming of repetitions is pain free, causes zero injuries and has almost the same neurological effect as actually performing the activity. Taking into account those aspects it would be insane not to use the power of the mind to its utmost advantage.

As I stated in the introduction, these three skills may seem too basic to be worthwhile, but I can assure you that they are the three most useful foundational practices that I've ever discovered, was taught or employed in my day to day training. I urge you to give them a serious level of exploration and begin to see how incorporating them into whatever practice you enjoy, you'll see a magnificent return on your investment.

Robert Gannon is a Crossfit and Special Strength Coach with Crossfit Gala, Barcelona and Westside Barbell. He is also one of the founding partners of Happy Fat Rings, makers of the world’s only 36mm premium thick grip gymnastic rings. He has more that 20 years teaching experience and strives to help people from around the world get better.

Get your pair of the world's only FAT GRIP gymnastic rings today: CLICK HERE!

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