40 miles west of Cork City,
South West of Ireland
I’m in a wonderful part of the world right now called Castletown-Kinneigh visiting my sister, my little baby nephew and my brother in law. It’s a lovely place (even if the Weye-Feye is rubbish) with a remarkable amount of activities and amenities for such a small village.They’ve got a nice pub, a soccer pitch, a community centre with table tennis, an equestrian club/stable and an autograss circuit. Quite incredible. All in a healthy, fresh aired, green fielded Irish heartland.Nice place to live if you ask me, if a little remote. ‘A bit out in the schticks’ as we like to say here.
In County Cork they also speak in a high tone pitch and have this daft habit of finishing many, many sentences with ‘Boy’ in an even higher pitch than they started with.
In many ways Cork is a republic within a republic. Great place though, and begrudingly (given how many GAA all Ireland trophies they have), they are fantastic folks as well.
Anyways, on to the subject of this email:
I worked with a fella last year… let’s call him Rick…
Upon a various assessments we found that he had a major issue with fear of failure, getting mentally stuck and ‘bottling’ rounds of golf. He would throw good rounds down the toilet, for no good reason.
Fearing failure and fearing mistakes can do that to a man. It doesn’t help.
He really came to me to work on his physical conditioning, but I believe in a holistic approach. Everything is connected and he really wanted golf IMPROVEMENT. That comes in many forms.
Here’s the thing that baffled Rick though.
I talked to him about fear of failure. Just said a few words about it.
Then I told him to do a suite of exercises for coordination, balance, eye tracking and visual processing.
I said to him, do these for 10 min, twice a day for 6 months and come back to me and it will improve so many things in your game; mentally, technically and physically. Its the foundation we can build great things on.
I’ve more tools now that I’d have also given to him, but I knew this would help him a lot and maybe even completely fix the mentality issue… as well as make him much better physically. It would at least set the stage for tackling the issues directly and fully.
He committed to it and did the exercises faithfully.
When he came back he was no longer fearing failure or messing up his rounds. His swing was much sounder, he picked up the things his coach wanted him to do. He also had a way more ability to hit the ball well and consistently because his hand-eye coordination and balance had improved so much.
He now viewed failure as a necessary part of success. He talked about how any goal is achieved by learning from mistakes and errors!
He didn’t fear failure, because he knew if he messed up he’d learn from it and get better. This was why he didn’t have mental meltdowns anymore. He now had a resourceful and beneficial view on the subject.
How could coordination, eye tracking and balance exercises do all this for a person?
Well, these are fundamental skills that affect everything.
They are wires in the brain that control important functions of feedback with the environment. If they are working well then your visual and auditory processing are much better.
You take in information and process it accurately and resourcefully. You use concepts to your advantage. You learn skills easier.
You think in a way that wins.
Winners have these skills highly developed.
You can go BEYOND those who got them unknowingly or by luck, because you can also take each fundamental skill to the highest point, and maintain them.
This will now make YOU the Wolf in the Pack.
Stay tuned, I’m going to tell you a lot more about these skills in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on your inbox.
PS I very much believe in visualisation and breathing as great mental tools. However, I also believe that other fundamental skills are also important and can make us better at every skill… including using our mental pictures.
This can occur without us even realising what has happened!
Furthermore, developing the physical skills mentioned above in combination with consciously learning how to visualise and breathe puts this process on another level again!
A scientist has some vegetation in the lab. He takes a sliver of one of the greens, makes a slide and looks at it through his microscope. He sees a collection of cells.
When you break it down, that is what we are too, along with our genetic blueprint for our cells. Assuming you have a normal genetic blueprint, you’re health will then come down to that which effects cellular health.
So is ‘everything in moderation’ good advice in relation to this?
Yes and no.
It’s a good idea, but it’s also a vague one.
There was a study done stating the one thing that long lived people usually have in common is that they do things in moderation.
The concept being that if you do everything in moderation then that is the best way to live. It’s good advice in that way, but it’s also useless to most people.
It sounds to me, while this was a valid conclusion in many regards, that the study was lacking in depth and awareness of many critical factors (and so completely left them out).
While its true that our health, well being and longevity is best served by not overdoing or underdoing work, exercise, play, partying etc… don’t we already know this? I mean wouldn’t you expect that the longest lived people will nearly always not have done extreme things in their life.
But most people don’t do extreme things and yet illness, cancer and heart attacks are very common and have increased markedly over the last century.
What’s the real difference?
If you take an individual who feels fine, but unwittingly has health issues that will accumulate over time and end up in an illness at some point (and it could be in 20-30 years), telling him to do ‘everything in moderation’ is probably not going to help him.
He/She is probably already doing things reasonably and in moderation. If you take an average 40 year old person; they work 40 hours a week, don’t drink alcohol very often, have hobbies they enjoy and eat reasonably well.
I don’t want to be grim, but that person, on average, will experience a lot of health issues at some point.
This is the norm from an ‘everything in moderation’ point of view. So it’s a largely meaningless statement.
What’s meaningful is physiological stress and epigenetics (physiological stressors flipping bad genes on and good genes off).
A person’s current and future health will be determined by that. It will also influence longevity and heavily influence quality of life in later years. We can also be totally unaware that our body is very stressed.
So what influences physiological stress?
– Traumatic memories, negative beliefs/interpretations (these are usually subconscious, so again we can be totally unaware of them). WHO estimates that 85% of all illness is caused by stress. Psychologists conclude that most stress is caused by unhelpful interpretations and/or actions in relation to those. Consequently, this factor is probably the biggest influence on health and well being.
– Chronic lack of certain nutrients (macro or micro), which is far more common than realised, even in developed countries
– Eating too much (adequate nutrients but a balanced calorie intake is required)
– Excess adipose tissue or body fat
– Bacteria, virus, fungus (you can have a large pathogen load that is causing havoc that can be hard to detect for nearly all physicians, they can even be inside cells)
– Environmental toxins which can accumulate in tissues
– Too much or too little work
– Too much or too little physical exercise
– Bad habits and addictions
– And so on.
There are ways to successfully address all of these factors, but the point is that this is the make or break with health, well being, longevity and quality of life in later years. These are the concrete issues. I would say in most cases ‘everything in moderation’ will ignore these things, and so won’t do the job.
The longest lived and healthiest people in the world are the Okinawans. They live on a secluded island off Japan.
They meditate and exercise daily, eat fish, chicken, seaweed, vegetables and rice from lands that they naturally replenish with nutrients. They don’t overeat. They also disregard treating symptoms with toxic pharmaceuticals and instead use natural medicines to help facilitate the body to heal itself without side effects.
Five times as many Okinawans live to be 100 years old as their compatriots elsewhere in Japan – and Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country. Okinawans also usually die of old age and not from any disease (they have drastically different rates of illness and prolonged illness to the west). Therefore, they usually have a high quality of life right up to when they die.
They also have many fighters in their 90’s, who are still able to whoop guys half their age! In other words, they also retain strength, speed and flexibility a lot more than their counterparts in other nations.
Could it be that they have a great weather system, are wealthy, have unique genes or are secluded from infectious diseases?
The weather is no different to lots of places.
Okinawa is poor – Japan’s poorest region in fact. It has had its fair share of hardship – it has been invaded many times over the centuries and suffered heavy losses in the second world war. Studies suggest that when they emigrate, Okinawans quickly lose their health advantages – which means it’s not about genetics.
Unfortunately, their lifestyle is also starting to change as other influences come into their culture.
However, if we go back to factors that cause physiological stress and successfully address those things we can mimic their results and even better them!
I go into these factors and how to address them in a lot more depth in my report, The Health and Energy Code, click here for more information.
It’s 7.00am on a summers morning on the Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro.
There’s a stream of people on the sand, exercising with kettlebells, bodyweight exercises and yoga.
These people are moving their bodies in their surroundings. Their feet are connected to the earth, the sun is shining down and they’re taking in gulps of fresh air. They’re wearing nothing but speedos and bikinis so more sun, water and air can nourish them.
What a great thing to do for your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
After finishing their workout on the beach they might want to try this:
If they find a good sturdy overhanging branch or monkey bars in a nearby park, they can attach some gymnastics or trx rings to it and start to do upper body exercises.
Nothing can beat the rings for upper body development.
Mastering gymnastic movements on the rings gives incredible strength, great balance and magnificent control of the body (obviously people start with easier moves).
It’s a different level to even a big bench and shoulder press, so much more functional. There’s just a lot more that goes into 3 dimensional movement, controlling our own bodyweight at all sorts of different angles and leverage points, not to mention all the extra muscles that are used.
Therefore, the development is greater. After those people in Rio work out on the rings or the monkey bars (the rings are more difficult), they can go back to the beach and cool down with a swim. What a perfect start to the day… and it doesn’t have to be in Rio!
I mention Conor McGregor a lot, because I admire his training so much. If you saw his fight in January 2015 against a Russian-German called Denis Siver, you’ll see what happens when someone who is mastering their bodyweight meets a weights trainer.
Speed, fluidity and unadulterated power against a strong, but stiff and slow opponent who can’t control his body at angles. There’s only going to be one winner, and by a landslide!
Why you are probably very deficient in Magnesium and how it is critical to good health and sports performance
Picture a man living in a cottage in a forest, near a river. He’s surrounded by the elements. There’s a lot to be said for it.
Every day he eats fresh greens, he catches fish and eats them. He exercises and does meditative type things that relax his mind and body. His health is probably a lot better than most.
The reason being he’s getting what he needs to nourish, remove toxins and de-stress.
Regarding the nourishment part greens, fish and fresh mineral water are high in magnesium. Most of us in the modern world are deficient in magnesium (many of us are severely deficient), and it is so important. It is needed for regulating no less than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
Magnesium deficiency is a significant factor — often the major factor — in many severe illnesses including heart attacks and other forms of heart disease, asthma, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, fatigue, diabetes, migraines and other headaches, osteoporosis, insomnia, and most cases of muscular problems.” Dr. Steven Johnson puts it better: “The range of pathologies associated with Mg deficiency is staggering: hypertension (cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, etc.), peroxynitrite damage (migraine, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), recurrent bacterial infection due to low levels of nitric oxide in the cavities (sinuses, vagina, middle ear, lungs, throat, etc.), fungal infections due to a depressed immune system, thiamine deactivation (low gastric acid, behavioral disorders, etc.), premenstrual syndrome, Ca deficiency (osteoporosis, mood swings, etc.), tooth cavities, migraines, hearing loss, diabetes type II, cramps, muscle weakness, impotence, aggression, fibromas, K deficiency (arrhythmia, hypertension, some forms of cancer), Fe accumulation, etc.”
The modern diet contains water that has had many of the natural minerals taken out from treatment and recycling, and we eat far less greens and fish than before. Also, a lot of the vegetables we do eat have come from land that is not fully remineralised, because most large farms use man-made fertilisers that are only high in the minerals that make crops grow bigger (and are deficient in the other macro minerals like Magnesium and all the micro minerals).
This issue has been compounded by rudimentary conventional magnesium testing that is actually inaccurate to your true magnesium levels. Most doctors and laboratories don’t even test for it, and if they do they only look at the blood. Only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in the blood, the rest is in the tissues.
So, the bottom line is most of us need to address this problem ourselves. The first thing you can do is make sure you are eating more greens and fish. If you have a lot of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency the second thing you can do is supplement. Check after a number of weeks to see if it has benefited you.
Magnesium can be difficult to supplement because taking it orally is not the best way for it to absorb and at higher doses it also loosens the stools. My advice is to supplement transdermally, rub it on your skin. There is a oil/gel available from a company called Ancient Minerals. Their products are available at ancient-minerals.com and magnesium.ie . It’s very hard to overdose magnesium as most people are very deficient and excess is usually either not absorbed or removed from the body.
Ancient Minerals magnesium chloride is extracted from the Ancient Zechstein Seabed in Europe, 1600 to 2000 meters deep in the interior of the Earth. Well protected for the last 250 million years, it is the most pure magnesium in the world.
I’ve found this supplement fantastic in my own health and I’m sure it would of great benefit to most other people as well.
One other thing, magnesium increases Atp (energy, speed, stamina), is one of the best anti-inflammatories (if not the best) and helps your muscles to relax. Do you think it might help your training, recovery and sports performance as well?
Don’t get left behind is my advice. Lather that stuff all over your body before and after training (especially where it is most needed).
The man living in a cottage in the forest doesn’t have an iphone, but he’d probably kick all our butts in living in a way that makes him fit, healthy and happy. Smartphones and the internet are great in some ways and we don’t have to live in a forest, but let’s be far more like that guy and not king of the rats in the rat race (the ill-health and death race).
Let’s get back to living in a way that is in tune with our nature!
I’m all for knowing a lot of the science behind getting the most from your training, but it’s not the most important factor.
The most important factor is just training, a LOT. If you do that you’ll know what works for you and why anyway. Then you can start to read a few books and educate yourself. You can try things out and see how it goes for you.
When you are starting though you just need to get going, try just about anything. See what effect it has.
When gymnasts train they just do the moves, and do them for hours everyday.
Trainers nowadays are chronically afraid of overtraining, but that’s often due to doing ridiculous things that you know you shouldn’t be doing anyway.
It’s hard to overtrain using bodyweight exercises, and that’s not to say they don’t get to extremely high resistance, because they do with using one arm or difficult leverage points like handstand push ups etc. The more natural the training the better because involving all the smaller muscles, skill, coordination and balance engages the brain more, which hugely improves results and also recovery. Static contractions, kettlebells, bodyweight exercise, some weights exercises and playing sport are ‘natural training’. The body is amazing at adapting to hard and regular training after a few weeks, especially if it is a sport or natural types of training.
If you just commit to training everyday or almost everyday, over time, you’ll work out how much and how hard to train.
You can also read up on sets and reps and try things out.
My point here is that a lot of people are getting caught up in the how and forgetting the main factor is to keep taking action. The person who just keeps doing the training and improving his/her strength (even if they do it ‘wrong’) will end up getting way better results than the person who does all the reps and sets to a tee, but doesn’t push hard enough to improve regularly and turns up sporadically.
Those fellas that exercise on the monkey bars just go and train every day or every second day and do the best they can. They aim to get better, and do so regularly. They usually are training 6-12 months before they show any interest in the science of it, if they ever do. Either way, they end up with amazing strength, athleticism and ripped muscular physiques.
So I’m going to break down for you what is really important: Train a lot, train as naturally as possible and aim to improve at it regularly. That’s it.
The rest of it is just fine tuning.
Bruce Lee is famous for his explosive speed, strength and his very ripped physique. His abilities came from his superior mind-body connection. He created this largely from using isometric exercise. Isometrics are static contractions. It is a powerful combination of mental focus and physical exercise, because you are creating the contraction mentally.
If you show off your bicep to someone and mentally flex or contract the muscle to tighten it, you are doing isometrics. If animals in the wild who live and die by survival instinct and one of the greatest athletes of our time use these exercises extensively, then I’m sure you’ll agree this is an exercise worth looking at.
The uses and possibilities of isometrics are endless. It is very helpful for flexibility in alternating contractions with relaxing into the stretch. I’ve a whole report on my website about that, which is a great thing to use. You will find it mind boggling how much further you can stretch immediately using this method.
Static contractions are proven to create 5% more strength every week in any muscle trained 3 times per week or more.
You can also hit just about any angle, any part of the range of motion and even the smallest muscles using isometrics. The usefulness of this is huge. For one thing, it makes it a lot easier to do sport specific exercises or target muscles needing rehab.
Add to all this the fact that you are creating a powerful link from the mind/brain to the muscles and you have something very powerful.
As we point out a lot here, the more your brain is involved during exercise the more you are going to get out of it in terms of performance, hormone response, neurological and physical adaptations.
However, SC not a complete exercise either. I wouldn’t recommend isometrics as a stand alone routine. You aren’t really strengthening your joints without putting actual weight on them, so isotonic exercise or movement with resistance is also needed. You are also not practising movement.
However, isometrics are quick and easy to do and are a phenomenal compliment to any type of training. Some things to note are that often the strength you gain from isometrics will only translate 10 degrees either side of the point of contraction. In other words, it is a good idea to contract your muscles at about 3 different places in its range of motion.
It is also a good idea to relax your muscles periodically in a session, maybe after three or four 6-10 second contractions. Relaxing only takes a few seconds, but it is good to shake the tension out, release and relax the muscles again. Using your breathing is very useful for doing this as well.
You only really need to be aware. Most people probably won’t even need to do the relaxation part, but a lot of us are so used to holding onto tension that we may not let go properly after a contraction exercise.
Tension when you don’t need it hampers your coordination, calmness and balance. Learn how to avoid that, by learning how to relax your muscles as well.
When you picture Bruce Lee training what you see is total body control. He is able to tense and relax at will in perfect timing. He’s gained a lot of this from static contractions. You will see him pull against a rope as hard as he can, push against something and then start exploding into speed moves. This is all using the mind-muscle connection over and over again to grease the groove and create better and better neurological connections between the brain and the muscles. That’s where his extreme muscle density, ridiculous speed and explosive power came from.
Thank you for your legacy and wisdom Mr. Lee.
‘Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one’, Bruce Lee.
If you picture a scene in the amazon rain forest full of animals, what is going on?
If they aren’t mating, eating or trying to eat or avoid being eaten, they are singing, dancing and playing. I’m not saying animals are better than humans, because they are not as developed and don’t have the ability to reason, inspire or create metaphor. However, I think we often forget that we are animals too. We’ve lost a lot of our instinct and what actually works for us to make our lives better.
In that way we can certainly learn a lot from them. So let’s go back to that scene and let’s look at the animals singing, dancing and playing. It’s marvelous when you think about it. It’s a cacophony of the senses. They are really in the moment, in the flow and doing great things without effort. We can really struggle with that.
Our world has moved so fast that we’ve devised a lot of education, lifestyles and practises that were created without thought as to whether we are designed for it.
As a result we are often stuck in the analysis part of the brain, which only makes up a meager 2% of the grey matter. The rest of it is based on sensory images, and we seriously neglect that to our cost. Our perceptive ability and potential is often hugely hampered as a result.
In the previous articles, we’ve talked about using more of the brain while exercising to get better results and also to enhance the rest of our lives.
We’ve talked about sport, coordination, balance and ambidexterity. Well, what about music? RHYTHM.
So important as well. Rhythm connects our auditory sense and kinesthetic sense.
What do nearly all top sportpeople, dancers or athletes have in common? Great rhythm. Wouldn’t it be a good idea then for us to look at this important factor?
Would a dance class for exercise be a good idea? Of course it would. Sure you are using more of your brain, you have to coordinate, get in the moment, stay in rhythm, connect with other people and also keep your balance.
It’s a marvelous thing to do.
If you watch a monkey swinging from a tree, a quick lizard moving at pace along the ground, or a gazel taking off on a sprint what you see is fluid movement. It is in beautiful natural rhythm.
Dance is a great way to connect this up. Team sport is also a great way to develop it. A good team movement is all about rhythm. It’s not quick, cohesive and elegant without it. But dance is an easier way to develop this because rhythm in team sport takes some individual development first.
For strength, you can also master bodyweight movement using good technique, rhythm and copy animal bodyweight movements like the lizard walk. There’s a flow, coordination, balance and rhythm to those movements you just can’t get with a conventional weights exercise. It will also show in overall results; how you look, how you feel and how you perform.
Really consider taking a dance or zumba exercise class. It will do wonders for you, even if you start with two left feet. You can start to get great results just by improving and practising a few times a week. You only have to look at the enjoyment, posture, fluidity, muscularity and tone of a professional dancer to see what it can do for us.
If you start you’ll be gaining those things too.
All you really have to do is keep showing up to enjoy yourself.
The frog is an advanced creature at jumping, swimming and generally using his/her legs fluidly, explosively and with awesome strength.
We humans can learn a lot from the humble amphibian.
We are tensed up.
You want to be loose as a goose for various reasons. It makes you feel better, it gives you more energy, mental clarity and you become better at doing just about any task.
It’s all about balance. Strength is good, but flexibility is more important.
It’s fine to build muscle or strength or both, but don’t neglect flexibility in the process. You can have powerhouse muscle’s like a frogs legs, but still be fluid and loose.
There’s a former world champion wrestler called Matt Furey. He’s burly and naturally muscular and he’s also done lots of strength training. If there was ever a guy that you’d think wouldn’t be flexible it’d be him, yet is muscles are so ‘soft’ that he can do the splits. He achieved that later on by flexibility work.
That’s where you want to be.
It’s all about balance. We tend to be tensed up so we need to stretch out for relaxation, stress relief and health. We sit forward a lot, so we need to stretch in certain directions that bit more than others. Strength is great too, but its the other side of the coin to flexibility and having both is the best place to be, for health, performance and injury prevention.
It is also better to strengthen using your own bodyweight (some free weight exercises are good too) to improve coordination, balance, hit many angles, smaller muscles and strengthen the spine so you are getting way more out of it and also not creating imbalances.
You don’t want to neglect muscles, because that also creates tension and leaves you open to injury or back alignment issues.
Note: There are ways to increase bodyweight exercises to ridiculous resistance and difficulty levels. Some people think there are only a few simple bodyweight exercises like two handed push ups and pull ups. That’s only start of it.
The animals in the wild have it right. They have an instinct that many of us have lost. Everyday, they stretch themselves out, they do static contractions for strength, they exercise naturally using their own bodyweight, they play and spar with each other.
It gives them the best chance to enjoy life and survive. Similar training gives us the best chance to survive, be at our happiest and flourish. The ancients observed animals and created great methods like Yoga (you don’t have to do Yoga per se).
We just have to start where we are, see the benefits and keep improving until we are a master like Matt Furey. All it takes is a little bit of daily exercise and rejuvenation time.
I like what Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor says about training and how he gets ready for fights. Many people would think the best way to get ready for a fight would be heavy sparring and pumping weights. McGregor does very little of that, he spends 90% of his training time on skills, balance, flexibility, fluid animal movements and bodyweight training. Not many UFC fighters train like this, but he’s got the best physique, speed, he’s the strongest and is currently wiping out his whole division.
Be like a frog.
Eat less, move more? It works, but its overly simplistic for the best results and efficiency. This method can also run into a number of problems that have to be fixed as you go along or it may not work after the initial results.
We are definitely going past the stage of diet being viewed as simply calories in, calories out.
The reason is because we are beginning to understand nutrient timing and circadian rhythms much better. This creates a whole new ball game, one where you can eat a lot more, feel better and lose more body fat at the same time.
It also makes it far easier to maintain a good weight and leaves far more in the tank for energy and improved performance.
The man who cracked the code on this is John Keifer.
If I was to explain his ideas in simple terms it is that you eat nothing for a few hours in the morning, then eat protein and fat only, and then fill your boots with carbs, protein and fats in the evening.
He calls it carb backloading and it is easy and very effective.
At earlier times of the day fat cells are insulin sensitive and in the evening they are not. This means in the morning your fat cells will fill up with carbs and sugar and turn them into fat and in the evening the carbs will instead go to the muscles and liver (glycogen stores).
There are some caveats, but this is not the place to get into them. He has a book called Carb Backloading. I think it is way ahead of its time and actually a bit of a masterpiece. I had my own diet book out and I shared some of his ideas and was moving in this direction, but this is further ahead in evolution.
I didn’t know how I could improve on his work, so I decided to instead to pull my book and promote his. It is a great compliment to my training books Precision Physique on Amazon and upcoming release Brain Centered Physical Training.
If you purchase Carb Backloading through my affiliate link (same price as any other link) and email me the receipt then I will give you free email consultations for one month. How’s that for a deal?!
You are guaranteed to succeed in getting fit, strong and lean if you have this great book and help from someone who can answer your questions and help to fit it in perfectly with your life.
In sport, training, and physique building everyone talks about strength, speed and muscularity, but the truth is a lot deeper than that. It’s really about the brain and then we branch out from there.
Everything we do is controlled from the brain. If we develop the brain, we develop everything else.
You may think I’m full of it at this point, but hear me out.
When you strength train you are commanding your brain to create a denser network of neurons that create better wiring that travels down to your muscles, to make them contract harder.
When you develop a skill you are doing the same thing, except this time you are developing fine motor skills or hand eye coordination or movement patterns. All of the above come under the bracket of procedural memory. Your brain is learning to do something better, putting the blueprint in place mentally and in your neurological system, to do it automatically. It is creating more dense networks and faster wiring for certain tasks. It will also create the necessary hormones, body fluids, building blocks to do that task.
This is one of the reasons that I talk about focusing on the muscles you are using in a strength exercise, because it switches the brain on more; and the more of your brain that is engaged, the more you will gain from the workout.
Let’s take this one step further though:
What if we super engage the brain? How could that impact strength training, physique and hand eye coordination?
A lot, as it happens.
So how do we really light up the brain?
Well more of the brain’s cortex is taken up with the hands than any other part of the body. If we develop our hand eye coordination and hand-forearm strength then we are really lighting things up in the grey matter. If we also do that while working ambidextrously we are really taxing (and developing) our brain.
This will make you better at just about every other thing you do.
This is why it is important to play sport, especially ones that require a lot of coordination. Ever notice how much easier it is to do a lot of running when you are playing a game or a match? More of your brain is switched on in chasing the ball, controlling the ball, doing skilled tasks, keeping an eye on opponents, the pattern of play and just having fun etc. Therefore it will provide more of its abilities and resources to help you improve. As a result, you’ll get a lot more from it.
We’ve always sort of known that sport is important to society, but now we are getting more ‘proof’ through neuroscience. We learn a lot about personal development and team work by sport. We also learn about competing. However, we are also directly developing our brain in many different ways and increasing our blood flow to the cerebrum.
The effects of this are far reaching into all aspects of our lives. This will help you in just about every area.
So take up a sport or two, a team sport or a team and individual sport and also try to develop your skills ambidextrously. The greats are nearly always good on both sides or play the opposite way to their natural dominance. Check it if you don’t believe me: Ronnie O’Sullivan, the most talented snooker player of all time, is ambixdextrous. Rafa Nadal in full fitness at his peak was untouchable, he even beat Federer on grass at that point, and he’s right handed but plays left handed. All the great soccer players are either two footed or left footed in a righty world. Tiger Woods is left handed but plays right, Ben Hogan was left handed but played right, Phil Mickelson is right handed and plays left. The best soccer goalkeeper of all time, Peter Schmeichal played handball as a kid (you have to use and develop both arms to play handball). The left side of the body is connected to the right brain and vice versa, and both sides of the brain have abilities the other side doesn’t. We want to engage and amplify all areas and also communication across the hemispheres as much as possible. If the spacial awareness, rhythm, vision, reasoning, interpersonal, sensory, impulse control, and decision centers are all switched on and communicating… skill level is greatly heightened. The greats with ambidexterity are using more of their brains!
This isn’t inbuilt either, it is about development. Then it looks like it is natural two sidedness, but there’s no such thing. There are many accounts of people who acquired an injury to one side and over time developed the other side to be just as good. And of course, as stated earlier, many of the great sportspeople play the opposite side to their usual dominance. If you develop both sides your brain creates that motor cortex structure, if you neglect one side it never develops.
This is another reason why bodyweight exercise trumps repetitive weights routines. You have to learn to control your own body, balance and coordination to do bodyweight exercises correctly. They are also bilateral as they get harder, in other words you start to do them one side at a time (like a one arm push up).
You can also greatly develop your memory directly, and memory is connected to everything you do. You have images for how to do simple tasks, complex skills, for how things work, for things you’ve learned etc.
There was once a study done of London black cab drivers before and after they had memorised 25,000 streets. Their hippocampi region of the brain was 10% bigger after! The brain is very much changeable and very adept at learning skills if you practise them. It will literally change its structure to get better.
So when not playing sport but doing a simple exercise (like push ups or running etc.), you can also recite the capitals of the world or something else you’ve memorised. You’ll find that you actually accomplish more physically because more of the brain is switched on. You are creating more hormones and your neurons are connecting and communicating more across the regions of the brain. This makes you better at everything.
So start using more of your brain, it will lead to greater results in all areas of your life!