Pyramids of Progress

Our goal is a lifetime of health. We are striving for the long game. A short term success with long term detrimental effects is not a success. The recipe is Form – Competence – Next Level.

Start with Form. Take your time here. Make sure you can meet all the points of performance in each static position. Practice transitioning from position to position. Think about your posture. Is your core tight? Do you move well with low weights and moderate speed?

Competence – Can you consistently move well? Does each rep look the same? Can you add some weight or move a bit faster and maintain your form? Build your muscle memory by moving well over and over. Focus on one area to improve at a time.

Next Level – After you are competent at a movement, you can move to the next harder scale or add more weight or start pushing your speed. If at any point the form or competence diminishes in this process, back off and do more good reps at a lower scale, weight or speed.

The next pyramid to consider is your foundation of health up to your highest skills. Nutrition – Conditioning – Resistance – Kinesthetic – Sport

The base of any health change has to be nutrition. The saying is very true, “You can’t outrun your fork”. AO1’s best advice on Nutrition comes from Michael Pollen’s book, In Defense of Food. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Conditioning refers to overall cardio-respiratory health. The main training focus is in the aerobic energy system. A de-conditioned athlete will not train the anaerobic or ATP-CP system hardly at all. Building up an athlete’s conditioning means increasing the heart rate at a steady pace and not going above 80% of max heart rate. You can get a rough idea of your max heart rate by using the equation 220 – your age = Max Heart Rate

Resistance Training is working against more force than your body weight. This could be pushing, pulling, lifting, sliding, carrying…etc. You will engage in some resistance training right from the start, but it doesn’t become more of a focus until you are conditioned enough to maintain form under fatigue and be able to recover sufficiently between sets.

Kinesthetic Training for our purposes is defined as sensory training to control your body in time and space. This is more gymnastics and body-weight biased training. It involves high power output movements like jumping, balance and agility training like one leg squats and handstand walking and it involves learning to engage specific muscles quickly to perform high skilled movements like muscle-ups. This is advanced training. There are basic scales for all these movements that will be implemented right away but progression through this level of the pyramid needs a solid base in nutrition, conditioning and resistance training.

Sport. Similar to the first pyramid, sport takes movement to the next level. We talk a lot about the process over results in the mindset course. Sport can turn into something negative when results become the main focus. However, there are a lot of benefits to competition when it’s done well. Seeing your own or someone else’s benchmark helps to inform your own goal setting. Having someone working out next to you who is giving their 100% is motivating to keep giving your 100%. If there were no defined rules and competitive arenas for basketball, swimming, pole vaulting or moguls, would we have seen records being broken and the absolute best that a human can currently do at any of these sports? It’s pretty clear that sport is a huge motivator. However, it is at the top of the pyramid because it can also be blinding. It is easy to let ego get in the way and skip to the top of the pyramid. This is where injuries can and will happen and we circle back to the top of this discussion about our focus on the long game. Don’t let a short term victory steal your long term joy.


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