Find The Thing That Makes It Click
I’ve tried a ton of different fitness paradigms. I’ve done everything from focusing on low reps – heavy weight through to a cardio based routine and more.
Each time I thought I’d got it, but then something would make me change my mind or I’d not see results.
It wasn’t until recently I started to get it.
I got it because AJA Cortes released a short ebook called “How to Build Every Muscle Group.” (I would link to it, but I can’t find it.)
Now – it’s not exactly a Bible. There are bodybuilding tomes that are hundreds of pages long, and there are a million fitness guru courses out there.
This book is 35 pages long.
It is essentially a Word document with a list of each of the body parts and a set of exercises for them.
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That’s the same as a million YouTube videos and blog posts though. So what’s so good about the book?
Somewhere in the guide, something clicked for me, and everything I’d read about fitness fell into place. The specific thing was:
You need to think about the possible movements that each muscle group makes and train them across those movements.
That’s a poor explanation, so I’ll explain by example.
Your chest muscles are used for pushing things. You can do a million exercises for them, but ultimately they are all variations on four basic movement patterns.
You can push straight outwards. Or you can push straight upwards. You can push straight downwards and you can push at various inclines and declines.
Those four basic patterns cover the “push” movement.
If you cover those four movements, then you are developing your chest muscles to their optimum.
Once You’ve Found That Thing… It Falls Into Place
From learning that, I began to see the body as a mechanical device.
Now… we humans are pretty complex biological structures. That’s why the relatively simple business of being healthy is made so complicated by everyone from politicians through supplement companies and fitness gurus.
But really… at a biomechanical level, the complexity disappears.
If you want bigger biceps, you have to use the bicep muscles to pull extra weight against gravity. You also need to eat enough food to stimulate the muscle growth.
^Neither of those things is all that complicated.
When you break down the “complex whole” into the simpler pieces, then everything becomes easier to understand.
You want more endurance? Well there are two types of “endurance.” There’s your cardiovascular health – which you train by, unsurprisingly, training your cardiovascular system. Then there’s what you’d call “movement efficiency” I guess. That comes in two parts: Efficiency with the particular movement and the specific muscular/biomechanical adaptation to it.
An example of the latter would be swimming. To have better endurance for long-distance swimming, you’d have to a) get better technique at the stroke and b) train the endurance in your limbs by doing a lot of swimming.
Now, you’d think that putting the pieces together would make the whole thing more complicated again, but it doesn’t.
Most people don’t progress in health stuff because they get caught up on the complicated entirety of all the possible combinations of things they could do.
In reality, break it down into simple systems. As always, it’s better if you take the direct marketing principle that these parts should be measurable. This brings me to my next point.
What The HELL Has This Got To Do With Your Stuff?
I experienced this when I first learned about direct marketing. I’d done freelance writing for a while. I’d put together some websites for people and various other things. A few stories of mine were in circulation and I’d written some non-fiction books too.
But direct marketing put the pieces together for me. Those specific pieces were “Everything you do requires an action from your target that you can measure.”
Then it all slots into place.
I’ve been planning an info product for authors today. It’s funny, because I sat down with my mindmapping software and thought “I don’t know if I can do this… what will I put in the product?”
After about an hour of productive mindmapping, the mindmap is so big I can’t actually zoom out enough so that I can see the whole thing.
The craziest thing about this is that when I discovered this, I hadn’t even got to the “How to write” stage yet.
When it came to the “How to write a book” section, I’d covered everything already, and I struggled to come up with more than “now sit and write the thing.”
That’s because once you understand how a system works, everything falls into place very easily. Writing a book is the easiest thing in the world if you know what to write and the reason most people fail is because they spin their wheels and waste time writing stuff and then not knowing whether it’s good or not.
If you’re putting something together, it should be easy. By the time you’re creating a physical product, service or fixing your car, you should know exactly what you’re doing. Sure, there’s a little room for improvisation, but if you’re in the middle of a task and you think, “I don’t know where to go next,” then you don’t understand the system.
Before you jump in at the deep end, make sure you understand the process from start to finish. If you don’t, keep reading, researching and running tiny test projects to learn the interconnected parts. Eventually, something will click.