“It’s not what you do, but how you do it.”
The National Strength and Conditioning Association has a great slogan: “Everyone Stronger”. We are all athletes in the game of life. Increasing or maintaining strength creates better health, improves athletic performance and makes daily tasks easier to accomplish. The strength you build today will directly effect your quality of life tomorrow. What we do for strength training is much less important than how we do it.
Most people want fast results. They train as hard as possible to make it happen. Unfortunately, the result is often pain, injury and suffering. No wonder, most quit during the first few weeks of exercising. There is a better way to become stronger.
The Russians were the first to develop a scientific approach to strength training. The most important principle in their system is awareness. It is built into the school systems that educate and train athletes. The children learn how to be equally attentive to their scholastic and physical education . Thus, they are better able to control sensations, feelings, thoughts and movements while competing.
Movement patterns are the foundation of actions. Therefore, the first step of strength training is learning how to create quality movement patterns (often called form or technique). This requires awareness (inner focus) of how you do the exercises. When you move slow and easy, it is easier to pay attention to your actions.
A great example is the Chinese Weightlifting team. Olympic weightlifters are among the fastest and most explosive athletes in the world. Yet the Chinese, start beginning lifters with just a broom stick and very slow movements. The light weight and slow speed makes it possible to master the complex techniques needed to excel in the sport.
Every Feldenkrais class is an opportunity to practice and refine your inner focus. Then you can use this skill and apply it to any exercise. Here are a few tips to get started:
Think of practicing quality movements instead of working out. To develop good habits, only perform quality movements. Stop, if quality drops or you feel stress or strain.
To learn and refine movement you must go very slow. Normal speeds result in normal habitual movements (hence no improvement).
Limit the amount of times you do the movement. Do not go to your limit (unless you want to learn how to be limited). Five quality repetitions are better than twenty mediocre ones.
If the movement feels good and pleasant, you are on the right track. Pain or strain result from poor movement patterns. Stop if there is pain, and do not continue further and develop bad habits.
Learn how to use Patterns, Differences and Questions to direct your inner focus (see last month’s blog).
Stop before you are forced to quit. You want to feel better not worse after working out.
Developing inner focus allows you to train smarter, instead of harder. Join S3NSE and learn how to win in the game of life.