This Fitness Tip is brought to you by Trainer and Strength Coach Eric Bergmann from Bergmann Fitness in NYC.
This is going to be the single most important training tip you ever receive.
It has nothing to do with The Best ab move or how to slap more plates onto your deadlift. This may be disappointing, but if you're looking on the internet for the best ab move or the fastest way to your next deadlift PR I can guarantee you're asking the wrong questions.
Here it comes; the best tip ever... ready?
Know what you're training for.
Is it a marathon? Awesome. That's easy.
Is it to improve your 40 yard time? Awesome. Also easy.
Climb Mount Everest? Easy.
Okay, so maybe easy isn't the correct word. The point with these goals is that there's a clear path between where you are now and where you plan to end.
But what if those things don't interest you. What if, like the vast majority of us, you're just "training for life"?
I've had a lot of clients come to me joking that they're training for the Zombie Apocalypse. I actually think that's a worthy training premise. But my first question is always: "Do you have a go-bag?" If you're not fully stocked and prepared for a low-grade "disaster" then preparing for zombies probably shouldn't be priority A1.
The same is true in "training for life." I'm a big fan of moving well and getting strong in basic movements. This has long been the training template of the most fit. (See what I did there?) Moving well and getting strong in basic movements is your basic disaster prep.
So, A1 priorities: Am I able to move my joints through their full ranges without compensation? Am I strong in basic movements like squatting, hinging/deadlifting, pressing, pulling? Can I propel myself through space and get up and down off the ground from various positions?
Yes? Good. Zombie time.
You've covered the basics, so it's on to zombie apocalypse training (AKA, getting awesome). Not only will zombie prep make you more awesome and less likely to become food, it will also improve your basic disaster prep, and this cycle feeds itself if given the opportunity.
What is zombie prep? It's strengthening weak links. Weak links tend to be the movements that are most difficult to emulate in typical gym settings. This is the reason top athletic performance facilities are stocking up on kettlebells, sleds, bands, and chains. It's the reason you should be incorporating tools like the Core Hammer into your training.
If you've covered the basics, your weak links are going to be in the frontal and transverse planes. They're going to be in conservation of momentum from the lower to the upper extremities. They're going to be in the sudden contract-relax-contract cycles that tri-planar movements with odd-implements generate. They're going to be in alternation and reciprocation.
What does all this nerd-talk mean? It means that your training program is going to leave some glaring holes unless you add in something like the Core Hammer, and that those holes are going to get you eaten by zombies (or, you know, leave you strong in the gym but weak at work, on your commute, playing with your kids, crushing some vicious flag football, etc.)
Know what you're training for (hint: unless someone pays you for your physical characteristics it's probably "life"). Choose your program and your tools wisely. Move well, get strong, fill in the gaps.
Best. Tip. Ever.
Eric Bergmann, CSCS, NKT, FMSC