Friday, October 30, 2015

The six best movements according to Amy

Original artwork by Coach Randy. Step 2 elucidates the difficulties we had yesterday.
Yesterday Mike gave us the run-down on his favorite movements. Just a reminder, this is the answer to the question: if you were only ever allowed to do (or teach) six movements, what would they be and why?

I'll start off by saying that I understand Mike's choices and I think they are good for improving general health and strength for lots of people. But as a psychologist, I am most intrigued by the mental aspect - how training affects us psychologically. After all, the brain is the body's most important organ (ACCORDING TO THE BRAIN, hahaha). And so the movements I chose are the ones that have a big impact on your perception of yourself as an athlete.

Instead of simpler functional movements, I opted for more complex, dynamic, movements that demand strength, balance, and coordination. These are movements that take a lot of time and work to master, and I think the payoff is big. When you can do these six movements well, you will move like an athlete and you will gain confidence and proficiency in all your other movements.

1. Power clean. Herein lies the only overlap between Mike's list and mine! I love power cleans. I love doing them and I love teaching them. It's pure explosive power, with a nice dose of balance and mobility thrown in. Get comfortable with the power clean and you will be able to move a lot of weight fast and feel like a million bucks in the gym.

2. Power snatch. I like power snatch for the same reasons I like power clean, but it's more technical and mentally demanding. Because you're going from the ground to overhead in one movement, you have less room for error and it's scarier. There is so much fear to overcome with this lift. You might feel really proud when you get a heavy squat or deadlift, but you will feel victory when you execute a really good snatch and get a new PR.

3. Overhead squat. You knew it was coming! Mike hates them and I love them. Overhead squats may not be a dynamic movement like the first two I listed, but they are challenging in interesting ways. You need very good body awareness to perform a heavy overhead squat - the bar has to be in just the right place, your core has to be braced just right, and you can't second guess yourself at any point in the movement. Well-executed overhead squats are a lovely display of athleticism, and when you get them, you will be ready to take on anything.

4.  Kettlebell jerk. I knew I wanted to include a kettlebell movement, and I was a little torn among all the choices. But I think the jerk is a nice combination of strength, technique, and speed that teaches you how to use your legs and core to get something heavy over your head. Like many of these movements, it's a bit scary and requires precision and confidence.You can do double kettlebells or you can focus on unilateral movements by using just one.

5. Kip. The kip is a gymnastic movement, an explosive turning over of the hips that moves your whole body. It can be used for pull-ups, getting up on the rings, or bringing your feet to your hands while hanging on the bar. I like the kip because it is a way to move your body in space when you don't have the strength to muscle your way there. I actually think kipping is empowering, and I love the way it translates to barbell and kettlebell movements.

6. Rowing. I'd rather lift than do conditioning, but I knew that my list would have to include some kind of conditioning because it's just so darn useful. I could have gone with running sprints, but rowing won out because of its versatility. You can row 500s or a 2k or a 10k, you can vary the pace, you can vary the stroke rate. You can continually improve form and efficiency and become a better, more powerful rower.

I guess the common thread of these movements is that they are a struggle to learn and they demand a lot from you mentally and physically, but when you get them, you really feel like an athlete. They enable not just growth and improvement, but transformation. Don't avoid these movements; take them head-on, work hard and stick with it, and the payoff will be big.
Death by pull-ups
(1 the first minute, 2 the second minute, etc.)
stop when you fail to complete the pullups
then do 5 push-ups until everyone is done