If you go on social media, you can find a bunch of wild movements that you might be inclined to add to your training. You might think that these intense movements will push you over the top to achieving your goals. While they might, they also can cause headaches and frustration if you haven't mastered the basics first.
The basics provide an insane amount of value with far fewer headaches compared to some of the social circus exercises. Also, if you look at any performance you wish to achieve, it is made up of basic movements executed at a high level of consistency over and over again.
Let's look at a swimmer for reference. A high-quality swimming performance can be broken down to a high-quality stroke repeated over and over again.
The Kobe Effect
I love Alan Stein's recap of his first experience watching Kobe Bryant practice. Alan Stein is a strength & conditioning coach who has worked with some of the best basketball players on the planet. Early in his career, he got to go watch Kobe practice. Hours went by and Kobe only practiced basic moves over and over again. Alan sat there waiting for the big secret training piece Kobe was implementing to be all world. The secret was that Kobe executed the basics so well, he was nearly impossible to defend.
Let's look at seven fundamental movements that you should aim to master before chasing advanced variations of movement.
Let's start with the split squat. Yes, it is fun to see how much weight you can load up on the leg press and let it rip. However, this is not the only way to build effective performance-based strength. Life happens in a unilateral pattern too! The split squat allows you to get a feel for a unilateral lower-body pattern. With the split squat, beware of your momentum leaving a vertical plane. If you feel like you are shifting forward and backward throughout this movement, you are not maintaining control of your momentum. Try to keep your body going straight up and straight down.
Side 2 Side ROCKS
This one probably got an eyebrow raise out of you. My question to you is, when is the last time you rolled side to side? As a kid, this occurs often. As adults, we lose this skill quite quickly. Being able to roll without using your limbs for momentum is a foundational piece to many movements you will encounter in sport. Being able to complete this without momentum is a challenge and a worthwhile training goal. Once you master the bodyweight variation, add a band for some extra shoulder activation throughout the movement.
The pull-up requires a coordinated and controlled effort utilizing strength and stability. It is the exercise that causes many people to say, "I can't." With that in mind, it provides excellent value to your training and is a great benchmark to see how you are progressing with other areas of your training. If pull-ups frustrate you, you are probably not using the right variation.
This might be the most butchered movement I see. The body positions I see utilized to complete this movement are vast. If you struggle with push-ups, much of it probably comes down to how you are engaging your trunk.
Being able to properly hinge and load your hamstrings is super helpful in the department of back pain management and prevention. It is also key in performance-based movements. If you have feared this movement due to past injury or pain, similar to the pull-up, find a variation that better fits your abilities.
For example, I often see people deadlifting with a barbell because they think it is the only way to see progress and build strength. There are plenty of other effective options that will help you achieve your goals.
When is the last time you jumped? If you have a hard time answering this question, you are missing out on a valuable component of training. Jumps help with power development, body awareness, and help you maintain speed as you age. Think about taking off and landing. This is where things fall apart and get wobbly. Focus on avoiding any knee buckle in these two phases of the movement.
As you can see from this list, these movements are very attainable. They are not wild variations that require you to watch a video demonstration 1000 times. These are fundamental movements that will help you in the long run and deserve your attention in training. Quality training is attainable! You just have to sift through the noise.
Where do you need to improve?
As you make adjustments to your training, the key is to know what you are working with. When is the last time you truly assessed your abilities and got feedback on how to improve your path forward? If you struggle to remember the last time you did this, I challenge you to fill out my performance questionnaire and take my assessment. From there, I will provide you some key points to focus on as you make adjustments to get more out of your training. The best part is that these steps are free of charge!
Coach Bo's blog
Here you will find posts about the topics that come up during the journey to your best performance!