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Close Your Eyes for Maximal Gains

The debate over how to make your Fitness work cross over into your performance is ever ongoing.

I'm just thankful that the silly "functional training" thing is dying out, the term now being repurposed by the Crossfit guys as "Functional Fitness" but that's a topic for another day.

You want to know how you can get your S&C gains to reflect in your performance in the world.

One very simple concept that I prize as essential for this cross over is your awareness of how you body is positioned in space. This is called Proprioception.

It is the "sixth sense" in that your brain is registering the feedback from the muscle spindles, golgi tendon organs, inner ear and more. You're monitoring joint angles, speed of motion, muscle tension, direction changes

Proprioception is learning how you move.

If you read the post titled "Fundamental Joint Mobility" posted yesterday you'll have read about the brain map and how joint mobility helps define that map to give a more defined understanding of the bones positions in relation to each other. The next stage is to begin moving and doing at least part of your training with the eyes closed or blindfolded.

We are highly visual creatures. Our eyes give us the vast majority of our information, they have a huge amount of brain space attached to them.

So when we remove them from whatever task we are performing, all of a sudden we are left literally and figuratively in the dark. Many people I have worked with in the past have completely fallen to pieces when we have them move without the aide of their primary sense.

Their eyes are everything to them, they either aren't aware of or don't trust their proprioceptive senses. And if they can't trust that feedback, how can they trust their body to do the right thing in scenarios that are too fast or too random for the eyes to see and predict what's going to happen? My challenge to you is to take an unloaded sequence of movements, all or part of the Fundamental Joint Mobility sequence is ideal, if you're confident than move onto light / warm up sets of loaded exercises and locomotive exercises. It should go without saying that if you're working with load or with locomotive exercises that you do so with good safety protocols. Clear the immediate area of any obstacles, have an early warning system in place either a spotter or some way of telling you you're off path. There's no honour in getting injured in training, so do this sensibly. Over time, the ballistic kettlebell movements such as swings and snatches should become possible. As should a Turkish Get Up or TGU complex. Motions like these that have large ranges of motion, including head movement, with a dynamic load carry the highest value in terms of athletic crossover, but this is also because they require the highest levels of proprioceptive awareness. So don't rush into these, build up real slow with light weights.

Now, shut your eyes, and away you go!


Dave Hedges

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