What does this mean?
Let’s start with this: Our ability to both improve how we move and get stronger, comes back in part to better integration and connection among all the parts of our body: the trunk, legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and feet!
How can we best accomplish better integration and connection?
One answer is to literally create tension from within, radiating that tension with total muscular contraction. This has so many benefits, it’s impossible to overstate it!
Now, if at first glance it sounds complicated or intimidating, it’s not!
It’s very simple actually. Not “easy” mind you, but simple. 🙂
Here’s the deal:
- As you get into position, before beginning each movement, think of squeezing and forcefully contracting every muscle in your body, especially those involved in the movement. Remember, NOTHING you will do in this program is passive. For example, in the basic bodyweight squat, don’t just passively (letting it happen naturally in other words) lower your body into position. Rather, contract and squeeze your thighs, hamstrings, glutes and back, PULLING YOURSELF down into position actively.
- Naturally, you won’t be contracting to the point where you can’t move! The goal is to engage muscles and connective tissue such that there’s moderate total radiation of tension. It’s sort of like turning up the dimmer switch on a light – you won’t push it up to the top so that it’s full-on, but perhaps three-quarters of the way. Think about it. Then, practice it! As time goes on and you do this more, your skill will improve and along with it, you’ll be smoother and more integrated. Yes, these are skills! The more you do it, the better you get at it.
- Anytime your feet are in contact with the ground when doing these movements, think STATIC STOMP: the idea is to engage and press your feet into the ground actively. Stomp the ground statically! If it sounds strange, trust me and just try it! You’ll instantly feel more stable and more connected and integrated. Your overall body position awareness will improve. Everything will feel stronger and more stable. Try it!
- Make sure you keep the constant tension and contraction in both directions when it’s appropriate, up and down in every direction. This isn’t just about pushing into position, it’s also about coming back to the start.
- If you’re wondering how breathing plays into all of this, my suggestion is to continue to breathe normally. Don’t hold your breath for extended periods or hyperventilate at any time. You will find that sometimes it feels natural to hold your breath for very short periods of time – that’s fine and can sometimes help you increase your effort and intensity. By and large though, don’t overthink it, just breathe!
- Remember, to get the most from this program takes extreme focus and constant conscious effort. Nothing is passive. The more you bring to it, the more you’ll get from it. And the bonus?
- You’ll be rewarded with a buzz throughout the muscles and your body which will tell you that you worked hard and didn’t let momentum, gravity, or elasticity create a false sense of work or fatigue.