Friday, February 18, 2011

The Power of INTERNAL FOCUS during your training

Everyone wants results when they train. Scratch that! Most people want results YESTERDAY!!! People are inpatient when it comes to training because they expect immediate results. Now I'm going to agree with most that RESULTS are very important but I think there is a deeper underlying issue at work here. We can get so focused on the result that we forget about the PROCESS and the immense benefits of cultivating a PRACTICE.

 Much like a martial art (internal focus), I would argue that 99% of the fitness enthusiasts out there are focused on EXTERNAL and outward principles. The longer I train, learn and experience,the more I have seen the errors in focusing on the external......the weight of the load, how you look in the mirror, how ripped your abs are. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking your best and having lean abs because we all want lean abs.  But until one cultivates a PRACTICE of internal focus during their training, I believe long term health, strength and vitality are impacted in a very negative way. I thank and credit Pavel and the RKC for helping me cultivate these principles.

I would even say that I have spent most of my training career focused too much on external goals and have focused less on the internal mastery aspects of skill, breath control and postural alignment.   Developing skill in these areas takes many years and perhaps because I am older now I now have taken more of a long term approach toward my health and training.

Too many injuries, painful mornings and now PARENTHOOD have thankfully forced me to make some changes.  Now because I am father, I want to be functional enough to play with my two children as they grow up and set the example of how one can train intelligently and still see phenomenal results. I truly think that you can get very strong, mobile, agile and powerful without absolutely trashing yourself.

I have compiled a list of 5 areas I think all of us as avid students of the iron game / athletics must take seriously and apply for long term health.

1) Focus on POSTURES and POSITIONS rather than loads
I love heavy weights and think all should get to the point where they can lift some respectable loads. However, those loads should be directly tied to your ability to OWN specific postures and positions. If you don't own your Deadlift form, forget swings. Work on the DL until you own it!!!

2) Reset abdominal function by restoring DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING
If you have studies any of Gray Cook and Brett Jones material this should make sense. Proper function of the diaphragm is essential to reflexive core stabilization. Fix people's breathing and great things happen. Health improves as well

Tension equals strength.  It also means slowness. Relaxation is speed, quickness and power. We need to balance both as both are essential. The RKC School of Strength does a wonderful job elaborating on this concept.  If you have more interest, take the RKC certification and get certified.

4) Work on your CORRECTIVES
Yes, find what doesn't move in your body and get it to move. What lacks stability needs to be taught to stabilize through controlled movement. Better yet, find a CK-FMS or a therapist who understands and uses the SFMS / FMS methodology. Removing the parking brakes from your body will allow you to play with your kids (and press heavier KB's too).

5) QUALITY over Quantity
This one is truly simple and brilliant. Practice great reps when you train. Seriously! Your movements should look clean and seamless. If they don't, find someone who can help teach you to get them to look great!

I know, I know. I just said to be focused on the internal and not the external. External Results will actually be much better when  you do focus on the internal aspects of training. Many people have wanted to know what I am currently training so thought I would publicly talk about it. Double kettlebell drills have historically hurt my shoulders but not anymore. My internal focus, stretching and mobility work is making a huge difference. Here is what I have been up to in my training.

Just finished my 5th week of Pavel's Return of the Kettlebell Program and I must say that I am super jazzed about my results. 7 pounds of muscle in 5 weeks ain't too shabby!

Please leave thoughts, comments, and ideas! More to come.....


Taikei Matsushita said...

Yes, if I neglect internal focus during martial art sparring, I'm most likely to lose. Internal focus on kettlebells, breath and joint mobility, automatically translate into my martial art skill.

Aaron said...

Love the article!

Strength Nomad said...

Perhaps this is a far fetch analogy. But as a firefighter, we make the biggest impact when we advanced INSIDE of a residence, find the seat of the fire, and place FOCUSED attention to the core problem (water on the seat of fire). I find the same is true with my S&C: laser like focus, on a those few, most impactful internal attributes.
Thanks for the article, always enjoy your leadership.

jockeRKC said...

I agree with everything you g´have written Franz.
I am not training i am practicing =)

Franz Snideman said...'s all about internal focus. Missed this for a lot my training career.

Aaron, thanks brother!

Franz Snideman said...

Thank you Clifford!!!! Great Analogy!!!!!

Franz Snideman said...

JockeRKC - that is right! We must PRACTICE!!! Thanks for reading!