Finding Your Fundamentals


Finding Your Fundamentals

Jeremy Fein


“Don’t worry about the fundamentals–skip right ahead to the fancy stuff to save time.”


Probably a quote you’ve never heard from an athlete or a coach. We all seem to agree that the fundamentals are important, but why isn’t there more talk about what they are? At various times, I’ve been surprised that a quarterback had never heard of vision training, a PT patient wasn’t working on breathing, and a weekend warrior was obsessing over snatch technique without much hip or shoulder mobility to speak of. But this article isn’t about what I consider fundamentals–it’s about how you can find YOURS.


Think about the things you practice most regularly–maybe you start every warmup with a run, meditate when you wake up every morning, or make sure to sit in a squat instead of a chair. What else do these habits lead to? Presumably your basics are fundamental to something, right?


People have described this by drawing a pyramid, placing things like aerobic capacity, nutrition, or GPP (“General Physical Preparedness”) at the base. A natural question, then, is what can we build on top of that base? How high can we go?


Your warm-up run might be preparing you for that half marathon, or your squat maintaining your ankle mobility. What goes higher in that pyramid could be anything. But let’s also consider what makes up those fundamentals. That warm-up run is actually an incredibly complex movement, perhaps with its own fundamentals to consider–hip extension, breathing, gaze stabilization, the list goes on. Are some of those things worth considering as fundamental practices?


Should you add to or replace your run with breathing or vestibular exercises? That’s for you to decide, but I would recommend thinking about these two questions:


1) What do your fundamentals prepare you for?


2) Are there more fundamental things that make up your fundamentals, and what what would happen if you switched your focus to those?




If you are training other people, please listen closely.


Do you have something you use with all of your clients? Maybe you use a particular brand of movement screen, teach them all a downward dog, or have them hang every day. Whatever it is, try to consider as broad a population as you can.


If these screens or movements are truly fundamental, then they better apply to damn near everyone. If my grandmother, my 1 year-old niece, and my favorite athlete (Paul Pierce in his Celtics days–duh…) came to you, would your idea make sense for all three of them? If so, great! If not, please prepare for the alternatives. The buffest looking 20 year old could struggle mightily with something you consider simple, so use the grammy-niece-Pierce test well!

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