Basics: Get Some

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As you might surmise, as a strength and conditioning coach (and personal trainer), I’m a huge fan of teaching people the basics.  Really, though, when you think about it, the basics are a great place to start when learning just about anything.

A common theme is that you need to learn how to walk before you can run. This makes perfect sense and it’s something that everyone can vouch for because, well, we’ve all done it. Likewise, when learning to ride a bike, the general progression is to slap on a pair of training wheels, and once you’re comfortable with that, you take them off, fall a few hundred times, and before long you’re jumping puddles like a champ.

I could sit here and come up with a dozen scenarios: learning a new language, how to hit a baseball 400 feet, how to make a meatloaf that doesn’t taste like death, building an atomic bomb, or even learning how to unclasp your first bra (which, as a dude, is arguably the hardest thing ever…..DAMMIT, it won’t come off!!!  Ahhhhhhhh!!!)

The point is: whether it’s something as trivial as learning your multiplication tables or something as complex as figuring out which fork you’re supposed to use to eat your salad at a fancy restaurant, you have to start somewhere.  You have to learn the basics first.  You have to learn to walk before you can run.

The thing is, when it comes to our health and well-being, most people don’t want to learn how to walk.  They want to sprint on day one.

Take for example a recent email I received from a new distance coaching client of mine asking me about intermittent fasting (IF).

Back tracking a little bit: this is a client who’s admittedly told me that he eats like sh*t, and that he’s tried just about every diet out there with little to no results to show for it. H

Given the high popularity of IF at the moment, he was curious. Now, I have nothing against intermittent fasting – it’s something I’ve experimented with myself and there’s obviously a lot of sound science and research backing its efficacy.

But, again, it’s analogous to sprinting. My man is CRUSHING Pop-Tarts every afternoon as a snack. Looking at this from my perspective, he’s not even walking yet….he’s still learning how to crawl. Why the hell are we even talking about intermittent fasting?

I understand that we live in a “I want it NOW” society, and that we’re obsessed with quick fixes…but why is it so hard for people to step away from the stupid?

In light of this, and despite the groaning, I’m taking a “learn the basics” approach with him. I’m demonstrating to him that drinking more water is kind of important, and that it’s okay to eat the yolk of an egg. In addition, he’s learning to make protein shakes with fruit as an afternoon snack (in place of the Pop-Tarts), and that kale is the shiznit.

Equally as important, with his training, we’ve had to take a step (or two) back.  We’ve had to overhaul his squatting pattern, teach him how to perform a push-up correctly, and we’ve also introduced him to the wonderful world of foam rolling.  He hates it, of course, but whatever….he needs to learn the basics.

It’s not sexy by any means, and it’s certainly not exciting. But, stroking my ego a little bit, I can almost guarantee that he’s going to see marked progress in the upcoming weeks and months.

Start with the basics.  Master them.  And good things will happen.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Alicia

    Are you saying it should be as easy as eating your kale with the right fork at a fancy restaurant as you discuss in a different language how to hit a baseball 400 feet while simultaneously pushing your death-meatloaf to the side as you doodle a picture with your free hand of how to manufacture a nuclear bomb?  Your man needs a recipe for kale poptarts and he would be good to go.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply to this comment

  • Stephane Robert

    Really great post! I love this type of article as it's simple, straight to the point, and brings me back to what's really important. Thanks Tony!

    April 11, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply to this comment

  • Tyler Wall

    Frosted Kale Pop tarts for the win.  Some people (lots and lots and lots of people) know whats bad for them and would rather continue with their bad habits if they can find a "secret" or shortcut to lose that bodyfat.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Jay

    Speaking of Really important it is Jamie Eason's Birthday! Just sayin.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply to this comment

  • will

    as a trainer in a commercial gym environment, I feel this way about working on the BOSU ball.  As I watch my co-workers putting brand new, barely-crawling clients on a bosu to do just about everything, when I feel the ONLY place for it (if at all) is for some very advanced variation movements on basic patterns with extremely advanced, balanced clients.  I know you are a BIG fan of BOSU work (haha); your thoguhts on its place in a program (if any)?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Yeah, that's one of my biggest pet peeves too. I just feel a lot of trainers resort to that sort of stuff because it makes them look different and unique (and, sadly, they're compensating for their lack of knowledge). I feel the BOSU ball has SOME place....namely, with injured trainees and we're trying to build on proprioceptive feedback. For HEALTHY trainees, though: a complete waste of time if you ask me.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply to this comment

      • Kyle Schuant

        My view is that, apart from rehab issues, adding instability is like adding resistance, you do it when the person's ready. There's no point getting you to squat on a bosu ball if you can't squat on flat ground.  I've sometimes asked other trainers why they prescribe these exercises so much. "It's a challenge for them!" "And if while they were benching I hit them in the groin with a cricket bat, that'd be a challenge, too. But would it be useful challenge which takes them towards their goals?" "It helps their balance!" "Do they have balance problems, or did they say they wanted greater balance?"  It goes on like this, a nice way to pass the time when I'm tired of interrupting the guys half-squatting or half-benching a plate a side. 

        April 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Mitch P

     The "problem" with the basics in the newbies mind is they aren't "sexy" enough for them.  They want 300 workouts or Crossfit-till-you-puke workouts.  Probably a by-product of our short-term gratification culture, media and what not. There's so much power in the basics - unfortunately most people won't realize this. We gotta make the basics sexy again.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Reply to this comment

  • deansomerset

    I couldn't agree with you more on this one. I love how so many people forego the basics and think because they watched a Youtube video that makes them "advanced." Just like how 90% of people feel their IQ is above average.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply to this comment

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    April 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply to this comment

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    […] 1 – Smitty Hip Muscle Activity During Side-Lying Exercises – The Sports Physiotherapist Basics: Get Some – Tony Gentilcore Q&A: Training the Adductors – Tony Gentilcore 5 Coaching Cues: Deadlift – Tony […]

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