Every so often, I get questions about different methods of exercise. Clients ask me which programs are the best or if such and such method is any “good.” Over the years, I have tried to pick apart fads and programs that make their way into the health and fitness world. I bought into the idea that we should champion certain methods over others.
The longer I’ve stayed in the industry, the more evident divide seems. Each entity tries to set itself apart and carve out its own little niche in the marketplace.
With such an abundance of methods, we need a way to figure out which of these entities are the best and which should be avoided.
Or do we? Do we really need to decide what’s best for everyone right here and now?
No. We really don’t.
Here’s the short answer: The best program for you is the one that you are not doing or have never done.
There are a couple of caveats. I’m not saying you should drop whatever program you’re doing now in favor of something different. Finish the transformation program you’re doing or four month strength block you’re grinding through. Just make sure the focus on your next phase of training is different.
What you’ll find as you move through different training phases is that there are a few constants. Regardless of the method or type of activity you are doing, a basic understanding of breathing and posture is required. You have to understand how your body mechanics work and how you learn best.
Having this type of understanding will give you the ability to try any training method and be able to break down what works for you and what doesn’t.
GET BACK TO THE BOOKS
We experience life through our bodies and brains. Our bodies act as the physical receivers for our brains. We receive information through our five senses. Our brain processes this information and we act accordingly. Most of the time.
When we reduce our body’s operation to a signal and receiver framework, we can treat exercise like reading a book.
Our brain is similar to a computer in a lot of ways. It receives information in the form of signals the way that computers read code as ones and zeroes. After interpreting the signal, our brains determine which actions, if any, to execute.
The actions we take are dependent on who we are and who we see ourselves as. They are dependent on our past experiences and on the experiences we would like to have.
When we are exercising, this type of depth in processing our movements and even mental states is available to us. It just may not seem obvious because exercise isn’t sold or prescribed as an introspective pursuit. I am not saying working out should always be about intricate internal dialogue; just that we have the option to do so.
So, if we are exercising like we are reading a book…. what does that even mean??
The workout method you choose will be your “book.” For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you just want to learn how to squat. While you are under the bar, your body is sending your brain all kinds of signals.
“There’s too much weight here, shift accordingly… too much tension is accumulating in this area…”
All of these signals can happen without us noticing. Our bodies and minds are in constant communication. But, that communication doesn’t look like the words on the page that you just read. Your body sends electrical signals that your brain interprets. And your brain causes your body to react in the most appropriate way possible.
In other words, you react based on what you know. And what you know is based on the body of knowledge you choose to accumulate.
In an intellectual sense, the most well read individuals are the ones that have taken in information from various sources and not just their area of expertise. But, it’s not just about taking in knowledge or even retaining it. These individuals can breakdown bits of information and combine them on the fly with other bits to form new ideas and ways of thinking.
When we make learning and mastering a single movement or exercise routine our goal, it is as if we are intellectuals learning about our main area of focus. As we move further along in our journey, we will find that we have to expand our knowledge base like an intellectual taking information from a wide range of sources.
Maybe you can squat decently, but notice that there are deficiencies as well. You might notice that your feet don’t contact that ground evenly after a certain part of the movement. The logical next step is to learn what you can about proper foot mechanics. Then you’ll be able to tie that information back into making your squat better.
The last part is crucial. We must find ways to links the bits of information we acquire. By constantly adding to and adjusting our framework of the world, we change the way we interact with the world. In the case of our squat workout, we can change the way we move and therefore the way we experience the world.
You are the centerpiece and it is up to you to take your knowledge in the directions that are needed.
P.S. If you are looking for something a little different and more regular, I started a daily blog for random ideas and musings.
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