A 40-something man was performing a variety of kettlebell exercises a few feet away from me, and it was clear that his ability and body-awareness were a work in progress. I don’t mean this in a negative way. Just that he was doing exercises that were beyond his current capabilities. I give him props for putting in a lot of effort during his workout, for just showing up and doing the work.
But from the kettlebell swings to the push-ups with one hand on the kettlebell, he struggled to get full range of motion with anything close to proper form. And he’s by far not the only gym-goer who’s made the same mistakes. I’m sure I’ve made my fair share learning new exercises!
Everyone was once a beginner. We all have to start somewhere, right?
We see amazing feats of strength and flexibility on social media and online, and we can’t help but want to join in and experience that amazing high of achievement and everything that comes with it. Plus we just want to shake things up in the weight room. Shit gets boring sometimes. ;-P I get it, I really do.
I feel that pull myself to do more advanced moves, like the Olympic lifts and kettlebell movements. As much as I’ve been tempted to do some of the stuff I see other lifters do, I’ve held myself back. I knew that there are steps working up to the more complicated lifts and skipping those necessary steps could mean injury or possibly learning bad habits that I would later have to undo.
So we need to master the basic movements first and foremost --- squat, hip hinge, push, pull. I find that most new gym-goers struggle with these just using body weight, and then they load those movements up, leading to muscle imbalances and movement dysfunctions.
The basics will get you so far. They are the cornerstone of a solid strength training program, no matter your goals. But we have a tendency to want to skip ahead a few steps and get to the fun stuff. It's only natural.
And it's the same way with nutrition. Before we get caught up in worrying about macronutrient ratios, carb-cycling, or nutrient timing, we need to first master basic healthy eating --- drinking lots of water, prioritizing protein and produce, and being mindful of our hunger and satiety signals. Without having these down pat, nothing else we try to do will work.
If we consume more calories than we burn off, the fact that we are cycling our carbs will not even matter. We'll still store body fat.
But the good news is that we just need to focus on the "big rocks" of our nutrition and fitness. That takes a lot of pressure off when it comes to focusing on the minutia. We can stop gorging ourselves on the endless fountain of blogs, articles, and books and just do the simple work. It's not easy, but it does the job and is easier to form into long-term habits.