A (potential) series on some details I use to progress my ‘warm-up’- which is always the primary objective for my own training.
The warm-up, an ever-changing confluence of where you are currently, the direction you want to head and what you ‘need’ to do to get there. Without consideration, it would seem that our present environment determines the majority of this- it is the overwhelming, now. A bit more difficult to imagine is the future- over time, these same factors also shape the environment, (influencing the direction we’re inclined to travel).
Rivers shape the land.
As I continue to work my way back into a ‘training’ mindset, I know that I will eventually want to incorporate some floor based work. (The ground after all, is by far the best movement teacher out there, though the tough-love approach will undoubtedly scare off most potential students with the first lesson- producing forgiveness from the unforgiving). I have hardly even touched the ground (aside from laying on it) since the pandemic started, which is unusual, but these are unusual times and I chose to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise do instead. The cool thing about veering away from the ‘same ol‘ is that I received a whole lot more than I gave (and what I had before didn’t leave me, but certainly evolved).
I’ve come to find that there are two approaches to training the body- one is to create a capable, responsive and adaptable system, and the other is to create a body composed of various exercises, habits and parts- one gives and one takes.
[Perhaps our best chance at understanding is patiently waiting in the places where expectation can’t exist- in the things and people and places we don’t know, in the feared. An equally opportunistic time to consider what existing expectations/beliefs are based in and if they are helpful].
In this scenario, this is what I know for my own decision making purposes:
– I want to incorporate floor work, eventually
– It’s been a long time since I have
+ Therefore, I probably need to work on my point of floor contact/base of support -> hands & wrists
I always add/change the most minimal thing I can to facilitate change/adaptation (with the snowball effect in mind). So while I’m fully capable of doing more challenging hand-balancing work or ground based calisthenics as is, I am most certainly not going to start there. It’s a matter of energy (and body) investment. The point of my warm-up is to connect the body together, to comfortably build up the system’s capability, so that when I am mentally ready for more challenging things, my body will already be prepared, (which truthfully, is what creates the mental readiness in the first place). And, I prefer “energy conservation” (wink).
So, what to do?
– I am very familiar with and always come back to visit the quadruped position (‘plank base’)
– Pressing ability is decent (non stressful) as is pulling ability
– Training hands (like feet), always benefit the whole- their capability reflects my capability
My mental outline looks like this:
1. Get used to being on hands again, with minimal ‘load’ (quadruped). Gradually increase load (angles) as comfort builds.
2. Use static/Isometric positions to establish/fine-tune body connections*
3. Move/integrate those connections (together and into the bigger system)- easy ‘push-up’ variations
4. Repeat the above process, changing the base of support- hand/wrist/finger positions
* Note – there needs to be at least two known plot points- Point A and Point B, (top and bottom, beginning and end, etc). In the case of the the push-up, we’ll say that Point A is the bottom position on the ground and Point B is the top position. Use isometrics to establish position strength (familiarity and comfort) in both top and bottom positions- to move well, you have to know where you are (Point A, bent-arm position) and where you are going (Point B, straight-arm position), this will also allow you to piece together the grey in-between area more easily as well. The more guessing and estimating you do by just propelling your body towards an unknown endpoint, the more insecure the body feels and the more decisions it will make for you despite what you may otherwise want.
Lastly and most importantly, strength literally translates into an ability to demonstrate vulnerability – a calm and confident system builds, maintains and expands on this. Dissociating breath from movement patterns and subjectivity is vulnerability work and will highlight the distinction between your intention and impact. A physical manifestation of cognition.
And of course for visuals sake, what it ‘might’ look like sometimes:
For the curious, a 2.5 minute glimpse into a few things that I play around with when in the process of ‘getting starting’. In quadruped position, checking in on the straight-arm position through different motions, stimuli and bases of support- a constant assessment of my current ability and connections (each hand in relation to arm, each arm in relation to the other, both in relation to posture/body structure, and finally, distilling all of the previous to simply, hand in relation to body).
The greater the understanding of connection and relationships, the less worry of their technicalities- the former, from the inside looking out, the latter, from the outside looking in. The word understanding itself, implying an ability to relate, not solely by logic or reason, but concomitantly with feeling, awareness and abstraction. (Experience).
Having passed the ‘getting started’ phase and now into more regular pressing, these are a couple small and easy (relative) adjustments I make to continue expanding my foundation.
The wrist trio- palms forward, palms facing, palms backward. All of these positions change your base of support (input), but should not change the bigger system controlling/processing and producing it. The brain needs reinforcement to know that you’re still just pressing, despite the changing input to do it. If done appropriately, we have now strengthened the connection between hand and body, what they can do together and how efficiently.
And another less than exciting but brief reel of the finger version- fingers backward, fingers away, fingers forward. All of this stuff is currently oriented toward being able to load the wrist, palms up (weight on back of the hand). So I am diversifying manageable loads on the ground as well as false-grip training on rings.
I choose exercise and movements strategically, considering the generalized future as well as the more specific recent. There is no program or outline, just constant adaptation aimed toward a general direction. The direction shaped by values, concepts and principles that I picked up and pieced together along the way.
Like everything that I post, movements and progressions are relative-
1. they are relative to self
2. they are relative to each other
Individual/isolated movements offer a smaller and easier ‘point’ of focus, a chance to examine how one part may interact and integrate with others and subsequently how they fit into the whole. Exercises/movements both easy and complex should enhance understanding of each other.
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