Mastering the Basics

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Our society is an interesting one.

We are always looking to become elite, advanced, or at least earn a cupcake.

This can be a great strategy in the right context. If we are willing to hustle to get a better job, then it could mean more money, time off, or work to be proud of.

In the fitness world, getting too far ahead can be damaging.

Yesterday, I was reading an article by Dan John about his 10 Commandments of Lifting. The best thing about Dan John is that he brings a no nonsense approach to the field. He does things that work and isn’t concerned with resting blood lactate levels and what not.

In the article, commandment number 4 is “Did you eat breakfast? If not, don’t ask me anything about nutrition.” This is a good example of how we need to master the basics.

A lot of people try out Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, IFYM, Zoning, etc. when they already know how to eat well.

That’s correct, everyone knows how to eat well. If I went around and asked everyone the following questions they would get all of the answers correct.

  • Should you eat breakfast? (ok maybe not the supporters of fasting)
  • Are vegetables food for you?
  • I fried chicken going to help you feel better?

People are not stupid despite the vast amounts of YouTube videos trying to prove otherwise. We all know that we need to eat well, exercise, and take care of ourselves to be healthy.

If we started slow and mastered the basics, more people would have success with lifestyle change.

am i skinny yet

Too often people try to go full speed into a drastic change and it fails.

We must take small steps to making changes instead.

A good rule of thumb is to change a habit and stick to it for 2 weeks before changing something else.

Some nutritional habits to change include:

  • Taking fish oil and a multi-vitamin everyday
  • Drinking 12-15 cups of water everyday
  • Eat protein with every meal
  • Cut out soda and other sugary drinks
  • Eat breakfast everyday

Pick a habit, complete it for 2 weeks, and repeat while maintaining the old habit.

The same goes for lifting weights.

A lot of people create goals that are too advanced and destined to fail.

People that have never squatted are going to take a year or two to squat 300 pounds. Most of us do not have this kind of patience and self-control.

I also do not feel a beginner should even be back squatting. It is simply too advanced of a movement for them. Some people can jump right into the movement but most do not need to.

Donnell Boucher is the Assistant Athletic Director for Strength and Conditioning at the Citadel in South Carolina. I watching a video of a seminar he did and he mentioned a very interesting point.

None of his guys back squat in their first year or two at the school.

These are athletes, out of high school, that are among the best in the country. Yet, we have freshman in high school performing horrendous things with a bar on their back that they call squats.

Something about the idea of a 400 club for athletes less than 18 years old is a scary thought.

There is a much better progression for the squat than just throwing a bar on the back and seeing what happens.

I really like goblet squats for teaching the squat. Holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at the chest and squatting seems to fix all of the bad habits someone new to the back squat displays.

The next progression would be a barbell front squat and then the BB back squat.

I would like to see someone perform 8 reps of goblet squats with the heaviest KB we have (36kg) before moving to the bar.

When we master the basics we can advance very quickly and be set up for long term success.

Jumping into too much, too quickly may not yield the desired results.

Someone that can get away from earning a trophy on day 3 and accept that progress is a long process will be happy with their results.

Here is a scenario. I am going to put you on a program designed to reach your goals. You will see no results for 3 months. In a year’s time you will have reached your goal and then some, making you satisfied.

Would you take this deal?