Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Whenever my dad and I would play catch he would say this until it was engraved into my mind. I use to apply it during softball practice but I see it has a direct correlation to health and fitness.
Do you think of physical training like practice? Most people do not. To many, their idea of physical training is hitting the gym, working up a sweat, and waking up feeling sore the next morning. In my opinion, the most important aspect of any physical training is the quality of movement.
The quality of the movement with basic exercises is often overlooked. We are quick to move onto the next level before we have even practiced the basics of a movement. Sometimes our good intentions are not matched with good execution. Movement quality is an aspect of athletic performance, fitness, yoga and injury prevention that is rarely talked about or seen on TV. Training to enhance movement quality is training that includes a focus on the development of both mobility and control of the body. To be strong and flexible is the goal.
When our mobility and stability are in balance, the result is greater success in the way our body moves. The golf ball flies further, the handstand gets easier, the long hikes don’t seem as long, and weight (like squirming children) is lighter to lift. The best athletes are those able to perform as one powerful system instead of a series of disconnected individual segments. If we want to move better, we must practice good movement.
A great way to picture your body is imagining it as a car. If your car has bad brakes, a weak suspension, and the wheels out of alignment, the last thing you would want to do is drive it hard. Why would you treat your body any differently? Driving your body into the ground with intense workouts may be doing more harm than good.
All bodies are different and should be treated this way. The training focus and techniques to improve movement can be tailored to each person. For example, Person A is limited by a lack of flexibility; whereas Person B has excellent flexibility, but lacks control. Person A would benefit from an exercise prescription heavy in soft tissue work and flexibility improvement, while Person B is best served with exercises to challenge strength and control. Person A, who seems tight, maybe mobile though the ankle but have excessive tightness in the hips, causing them to be limited through their thoracic spine. Many variables come into play and it goes back to each person is unique in their strengths and weaknesses. To make sure your exercise prescription is giving you what you need it is important to start with an assessment. It is vital to collect information for proper programming and it is also a way to track progress.
For many of our goals, skill is key to achieving the particular type of fitness that you are after. These movements take time, and perfect practice to develop. An example of this is shown through gymnastics. Gymnasts continually work to perfect movements of greater and greater difficulty. They start with the basics and progress. Though they may perform many repetitions of a particular movement, it’s always done with the goal of perfecting the skill. Quality comes before quantity. Let’s try working to improve our skill level in a basic movement like a lunge before we add on more weight. Once we have the movement down we can move on and work at improving this skill by adding variables so your fitness becomes an upward progression.
“It’s the opposite of most exercise routines, where the key word is routine.” - Al Kavadlo
I have wasted time and effort trying to get somewhere fast. Now I have goals that I am working towards but am laying a firm foundation of strength that only enhances my life.
It is refreshing to train this way: mentally, physically and emotionally. We must change our goals to having proper form and quality of movement before stacking more plates on the bar. With a mindset that is focused and dedicated to practicing the basics, the way you move becomes more efficient and the results are not only real, but sustainable.
Yours in health,