Be Brilliant at the Basics

You can best set the mood for this article by letting THIS jam play while you read. “And now for my next number, I’d like to return to the classics…”

Full Out = Brilliant at the Basics

Harold Coaching a Squat
Let’s talk about success. It’s not likely to come from a lofty dream and lots of hoping. It comes from playing FULL OUT day in and day out. Our success is predicated on our ability to plan for the small picture while still seeing the big one.

In FitnessLand, this means that we need to be brilliant at the basics. This is better than good. This is better than great. This is fucking brilliant.

We don’t really live our health and hotness dreams by having a different one every day, or by eating from life’s proverbial buffet. We best realize our health and hotness potential by consistently improving in several key areas.

Today we’re going to look at MOVEMENT as something that we can simplify to be successful. Exploring the infinite ways to move our bodies keeps many of us coming back for more, but for countless others it can be absolutely paralyzing. How the hell do you know what to do?!

What it Looks Like

At MFF our training uses every damn muscle possible, and maximizes the results in the process. How do we create a system to use the 600 muscles moving our 200 bones? We take a page from the books of our friends Dan John and Gray Cook, and create some “buckets” for all of our exercises to live in. These buckets help ensure that we’re playing FULL OUT every damn day. They are:

  • Hinge
  • Squat
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Carry
  • Core

In these six categories live every exercise that we use. Focusing on exercises that live in those buckets is what makes Ninjas brilliant at the basics. It’s been working so well for us that it can make planning your own workouts feel even smoother.

Let’s take everyone’s favorite pattern, the Hinge. It’s not ostensibly better than any others, but our booty is the center of our hinge, and we’re all about that bass.

Kettlebell swings have long been a staple of MFF workouts, and it’s not just because they’re sexy. It’s because of the hinge. We’ve been building our hinge repertoire for years now, and you may even spot some Ninjas doing double kettlebell swings, double kettlebell cleans, cheat cleans, and snatches in class. Each exercise has its own intricacies, but guess what—they’re all hinges.

While the number of exercises in each bucket can ebb and flow with each month of programming, the buckets themselves never change. This allows us to be consistent and calculated in what we do, ultimately getting better at it. Why does getting better at it even matter?

Getting better is what we do every damn day. You greet each day with love in your heart. You play full out. How you do one thing is how you do everything, and what you do is get better.

Quantify and Qualify

In FitnessLand, we often measure “getting better” by quantifying what we do, which is super useful. Quantifying things is what we’re used to: Counting more reps, using larger weights, doing all of it more quickly. Having solid numbers to track makes it easy to follow the Law of Progressive Overload, so we know when we’re appropriately increasing our total work number. Over time, increasing what we do is one of the most important factors to continuous success.

As important as it is to do more, it’s equally as beneficial to qualify what we do. The ability to appropriately express movement is integral in our performing communities, and it’s a great focus point for workouts as well. We may call it “kalos sthenos,” or beautiful movement.

There’s an elegance and grace that comes with each step of progress that we make while getting stronger. Regularly learning new exercises that live in each of our buckets helps us use that bucket as a strong movement foundation, so we can add fancy new variations.

We find balance between the new variations that we learn, while refreshing the movement pattern ‘bucket’ that they come from. In classes at MFF each month, we celebrate some of the bad-ass basics that live in the center of our buckets!

The Big Six

The best way to celebrate our bodies at MFF is to make sure that we’re getting better at the basics. On any given day, we spend time reviewing our Kettlebell Swings, Goblet Squats, Push-Ups, Bent Over Rows, Split Squats, and Planks. These “Big Six” have always been the foundation of our classes, and we can always get better at them.

Remember, we want to be brilliant at the basics.

There are infinite ways to move our bodies, and we see the beauty there. We also see the beauty in building buckets to keep related movements, ones that structure our movement experience just enough that we can rely on these key exercises as bench marks for our movement progress.

Utilizing our “Big Six” exercises, or grouping exercises into the same movement buckets, can help simplify your strategy for success and help you focus more on what really matters—being a better you, every damn day.

Now, let’s become brilliant at the basics.


Want to learn how you can become part of a fitness community that values brilliance at the basics? Schedule a Health & Hotness Strategy Session at MFF!

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Harold Gibbons is the Steward of Strength at MFF, where he teaches classes & semi-privates, manages the program design team for semi-private training, is the director of the Trainer-in-Residence program, and the founder of the Motivation and Movement LAB. When not teaching, he loves cuddling up on the couch with his wife Katie, sliding through the woods on his mountain bike, and considering why Thestrals are the best.

 

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