A client asked me last week how to be consistent with the boring, fundamental movements I’ve asked her to do in-between her strength training sessions. Tired of hurting when she tried to exercise with any intensity, she agreed that restoring range of motion to her joints and improving her baseline strength might enable her to play harder and longer at the fun stuff. And, hurt less.
So far, so good. But the basics can be boring and as she puts it; “how do I convince myself to stay with something that makes me want to snooze?”
It’s a great question I think we can all relate to in some context. We’re all motivated differently, and consistency at anything takes some combination of discipline and desire. Plus, it can be tough to stick with something now that seemingly only pays off later.
Here’s what I usually offer when I hear that question: Trust the process. You took action on something important to you. You committed to a plan, so follow through. And pay attention – you’ll feel some improvement each time.
If you pay close attention to your body you’ll notice how with a little practice, the fundamentals are a bit easier each time. A bit smoother perhaps, less resistance, more range. Things are changing for the better. Paying attention turns your time spent into deliberate practice vs. mindless repetitions, and those two approaches create different outcomes.
Ben Hogan, considered one of the greatest golfers ever, once said he couldn’t wait to practice every day. He saw the deliberate practice of the smallest of movements as creating opportunity – and that excited and fueled him. Each small movement he mastered through practice enabled him to attempt (and achieve) more.
The natural tendency of our brain – and by extension our body – is to turn repeated behaviors into automatic habits. For example, after some practice it no longer took much mental effort to tie your shoes or brush your teeth. Apply that to those boring fundamentals. Deliberately practice how to do a proper squat, pick something up off the ground, carry something heavy, etc, and your possibilities truly start to expand. This is why we have clients in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond climbing mountains, skiing, running, golfing, scuba diving, sailing and yes – competitive pickleball.
So, how to stay with the boring fundamentals? Commit to the process. Have a good plan, schedule it, stop asking yourself if you feel like it, and pay attention to your progress. A good coach will help you stay motivated with feedback and progressions. Deliberate practice of the fundamentals is not always easy or comfortable. But I think it’s better than the pain of not being able to move around very well and get the most out of your years.