Prepare so you can be the best version of yourself.
Black Belt Skills is a series of articles written to share the methods and strategies necessary that will enable you to achieve mastery in your physical discipline.
Firstly, saying "physical optimisation" may initially sound a little vague, or like it's another way of saying to practice whatever it is you do. Hardly needs an article written about it.
Secondly, how can you generalise what it is to be physically optimal? Clearly a swimmer will have completely different "optimal" to a sumo wrestler.
You need to look past the surface...
We need to take a step back and realise that the same fundamental rules apply across all physical disciplines, regardless of how different they are in practice.
If you are able to break down and identify how each of these areas can be adjusted and optimally integrated into your training you will find yourself making huge improvements.
The physical commandments
- If you are injured you cannot practice optimally.
- If you are weak or tired you cannot practice optimally.
- If you are distracted you cannot practice optimally .
- If you do not have longevity in mind and train accordingly you will not be able to sustain optimal practice.
- If you do not understand & study techniques and practices regarding the points above (and also within your specific discipline) you will be at a disadvantage to someone that does and therefore you will not be able to practice optimally.
Again these are 5 fairly obvious points - the part that most people will struggle with is converting these commandments into practical application and doing so in a way that is (wait for it...) optimal.
How to turn rules into reality
If we were to break down each point individually you may see how buried beneath each one is a huge rabbit hole you could jump down; clearly these points contain subjects such as sleep, nutrition & recovery all of which are topics which would require many lifetimes to fully understand. This is why we usually outsource them to physios, nutritionists, doctors and so on.
You do not want to be in a position where you are completely reliant on someone else for an issue that can cause such a dramatic change in your own livelihood. By example; you do not want to wait until you are injured before you go to a physio and learn exercises that would of prevented the injury in the first place.
This is not to say that going to a physio isn't a hugely important and beneficial part of any physical practice (it is), but it's to drill in the point that it's your responsibility to educate yourself on anatomy, strength & conditioning techniques, self recovery before injuries occur.
This is to be considered a long term investment that will always pay off. You don't want to be in a position where you think that "if only I warmed up my ankles I wouldn't now be out for 6 months with a broken foot" - If this is already you then use it as your opportunity to never make the same mistake again.
You need to find the balance
When practicing any physical discipline the majority of your practice will be focused on the specifics of whatever it is that you're doing but you will probably be familiar with accessory training within it which is essentially what we're referring to here.
What you need to do is extend this accessory training to cover all aspects of physical optimisation (which is unlikely to currently be the case unless you're in an olympic team or have training to that sort of stature.) but you want to be mindful when doing so that you are not sacrificing time from your specific discipline which is obviously the most important element of your practice, this is where you have to find the balance.
So what should you do?
In the upcoming articles we will cover topics including Nutrition, Sleep & Recovery and aim to share simple practical steps you can take to improve in these areas as well as suggested further reading/learning - these are 3 crucial elements that pertain to the commandments above so definitely stay tuned for these.
For now we would suggest a book that has been one of the most talked about "revolutionary" books of the past few years in terms of physical optimisation.
"The ultimate guide to resolving pain, preventing injury and optimising athletic performance" - and it really does what it says on the tin - packed full of techniques, pictures and incredibly detailed explanations. This book would be our number 1 recommendation to start of your journey.
Despite there being tens of thousands of books about anatomy, injury and so on - the simplicity and practicality of this one pushes it to top spot. You can go from having a ache in your foot to understanding possible causes and attempting different exercises within minutes with the easy to search nature of this book.
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