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Are Basics Boring?

Almost every person goes through a phase where they think the basics are boring.

Or they've moved beyond the basics

Or they're "advanced"

I like to think of this as the "teenager" phase

You could say that the fitness industry as a whole is in its teenage phase, with the amount of nonsense propagated in its name.

But are the basics actually boring?

The question comes up as I'm seeing other trainers posting stuff about doing the "boring basics" or "it might be boring but......"

And I'm thinking that is an irresponsible turn of phrase.

Going back to my start point, I was 11 when I first donned a white belt, I earned my karate black belt 7 years later aged 18.

I clearly remember how the early belts were all driven by the most fundamental movements, the basics.

I remember the highest belts always talking about the importance of those basics, and seeing them work a single technique over and over in their own practice.

And I remember the middle belts, the "teenage belts" where all we wanted to do was learn advanced shit, to do flashy jumping kicks and spinning back fists.

My teenage years coincided with my actual teenage years, I was one of the few to make it through and out the other side. Most quit.

The point of that little anecdote is to show the cycle that everyone goes through.

First, they know nothing, so the basics are fascinating.

Then they learn the basics and become aware of a wider world.

Then they come to realise that is those basics that make the wider world spin.

A right cross / reverse punch maybe learned in your very first class, it may be the basic of basics. But it will beat almost every other technique for return on investment.

And when your instructor drops you repeatedly using that one technique while you try every advanced trick in the book, it's a lesson well learned.

Back to fitness.

The same idea goes for the Kettlebell Swing

The Squat

The Push Up

The Deadlift

For getting up and down from the floor


Diaphragmatic breathing

Doing these basics well gets you in better shape to do almost anything you want to turn your hand to.

Do they get boring?

Only if you think they are.

You could instead look at the progressions as the interesting part. Initially you will make fast gains, but as these slow down, we will find gains come from the tiny tweaks we make in our technique.

Little things like where we look, how our weight is balanced in our feet, the muscle activation, the feeling of tension, the integrity of the joints.

As you learn to feel all these things you become more aware of how you are lifting rather than what you are lifting. And if you're like me, this observation of the machine that is your body is endlessly fascinating.

Every movement then becomes an exploration, a step further down the path towards the mythical perfect movement.

So rather than endlessly varying the exercises, why not pull from a small selection of movements, really dial each one in. You can vary the sets the reps and the intensity all you like. Pressing a 12kg kettlebell bottoms up style or pressing a 32kg kettlebell strict are both presses. They are both in that basics family, but one will give you more reps or sets than the other. We can squat, we rep them out, we can rep them slowly, with pauses, or explosively It'll still be a squat, the weight balance in the feet is the same, the depth is the same, but the speed can be varied.

Take pleasure in doing the basics well.

And every now and again, reward yourself with doing something different and a bit of a challenge.


Dave Hedges

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