Always look to deepen your understanding of your art. After every roll or every round ask your training partners what they think you should work on, and what you can do to improve. Even if you are more skilled, be humble and genuine in asking. There might be some critique they can offer to help you on your journey of never ending improvement.
Always remember the objective is not to be better than everyone else, but to be better than we were before this practice session. We want to leave every practice session with a little deeper understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and what we need to improve. Even 1% better is still better. Of course we would love to make huge leaps every practice session yet it rarely works that way. We see incremental improvements over time as we train consistently, with humility, and a sincere desire to improve while helping those around us improve.
Before I wrap this up I’d like to share one of the secrets to digging deeper, mining for that gold; the answer is rarely, if ever, to add more techniques. The answer we’re digging for is usually found in the areas of better timing, smoother transitions, or greater connection. I’ll give you an example from a recent open mat I attended. As always, after the round I asked my training partner; what do you think I need to work on? He said, “you’re game is tight. There was a moment in there when I felt you climbing for the arm bar but you stopped for a second, and I was able to get out of there.” So it’s not that I need another variation of the arm bar, I need to master the timing of the arm bar. Because my timing was off I hesitated, not sure if I would be able to sink it, and in that moment of hesitation my training partner was able to escape. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is applying. That’s a post for another day.
Einstein is attributed with saying, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. When it comes to strength and conditioning work as well as nutrition we sometimes forget to make things as simple as possible, but not simpler. We spend hours laboring over charts, graphs, with calculators and scales, logging every data point. All in an effort to take our performance higher. While this is a worthy endeavor we should be careful lest we rapidly approach a point of diminishing returns.
Dr Fred Hatfield was the first one to open my eyes to this simple truth; a muscle can only contract from point A to point B. Different exercises to work the same muscle are more beneficial mentally than physically. The mind thrives on a change of pace however, for the most part it doesn’t matter if you are using dumbbells, barbells, or a sandbag to do an overhead press our shoulders, upper back, and stabilizers only know we are moving our arms from point A to point B. This applies to every muscle group in our body. So why over complicate it? Progressive overload is probably the most important principle of strength training to us so keep the main thing the main thing. Find ways to add weight to the bar or more reps with the same weight, and we are getting stronger.
A similar approach can be used in our approach to diet. It is as simple as calories in versus calories out. If we want to gain weight we have to eat more than we burn, and if we want to lose weight we have to burn more than we eat. Just make sure the calories we eat are nutrient dense, and that’s as complicated as dieting needs to be. 1,000 calories of fruit and vegetables will lead to a better performance than 1,000 calories of ice cream. When we are calorie restricted it’s really important to ensure that every calorie is something our body can use to rebuild and replenish. To take it a step further adding in a day or two a week of fasting aka intermittent fasting, and the challenge of finding ways to chop calories just became as simple as possible.
Keep it as simple as possible, but not simpler. Life is complicated enough without our S&C program or diet plan being something that borders on rocket science.