Basics, why bother?
What’s the most important part of my training and coaching?
What do I make sure I do above all else?
Building blocks of correct efficient technique.
A complex skill is just a collection of simpler, less technical skills either strung together back to back or performed in unison.
So if I can perform the counterparts well without thinking about them, the chances of learning a new skill requiring use of those parts is high.
Mastery of the foundations is key to progression. How do we master the foundations? The simplest way of reinforcing a new technique is repetition. A new habit can be good or bad but it will become a habit through repetition. Simple exercises then, are they key to ensuring that good habits are reinforced. Have you ever looked at someone doing a handstand or a muscle up and thought “They made that look easy”? That moment has been the result of hours of working on fundamental exercises that make up that complex skill. They no longer have to think about performing that skill correctly because it has been habituated. Let me ask this question; “What are you thinking about when you perform a complex skill exercise like a handstand?”
Now for some lucky people who have a coach the answer to that question could be a specific cue, given to them by their coach. For everyone else it is most likely just completing the skill. So the chances of developing habits of using incorrect or inefficient technique are pretty high. Can you think about all the positions you need to pass through to complete a muscle up whilst doing a muscle up? Of course not, they need to be a habit.
So how often do you perform a dish hold, really concentrating on using correct positioning?
Without a proper dish position, what exercises will be affected? Handstands, pull ups, press ups, muscle ups, and the list goes on. Almost every gymnastic exercise we do in the gym involves generating power through or statically holding a dish position.
Mastery of this exercise is pretty important then, right?
So ask yourself, am I doing the basics enough? The answer is probably no.
So why don’t we do the basics enough if they are so essential? We are chasing strength, we are chasing fitness, and most of all we want to enjoy ourselves in the gym. Foundations are the least sexy, least enjoyable exercises we can do. They won’t get you more Instagram followers (directly) and they won’t keep people interested in their workouts if they are all that is programmed. If you have an hour to work out, half an hour of basics is certainly not the best use of your time.
But why not use them as a warm up before the session?
If someone comes to me asking about how to improve their technique in gymnastics, the first thing I do is screen their fundamental positions and movement patterns.
What do your dish and arch positions look like?
Do you keep your legs together and straight and point your toes when you kip? Or handstand?
If any of that is missing, improvements need to start there. And improvements do happen if time is invested in the basics. Get yourself a warm up routine that incorporates basic movement patterns and shapes, the best gymnasts in the world are doing it, you are never ‘too good’ to practice your dish position.
Invest in yourself, invest in the basics, point your toes. The rest will come.