I love that there is so much information available at our fingertips nowadays.
I remember having to comb through card catalogs and mess around with barely working microfilm machines to work on papers and projects in high school and college. Now I just have to type a few words in my phone and all of the world’s collected knowledge is right there in front of my eyes.
Unfortunately, all this readily available information can be confusing and paralyzing if you’re simply looking for a way to help improve your body, skills, or diet. It seems like everyone has something to say about everything. How can we know who to trust?
Never fear, GMB is here to help you through it!
We realize that sometimes you just need a couple of “right now” steps to get going. Getting started and taking that first step is often the hardest part of any transformation.
Start moving on a few of the following tips and get consistent on your practice, then after that you can delve into things a bit deeper.
And don’t worry, when you get there, we’ve got you covered on that as well.
Just the Tips
16 Useful Tips for Learning & Practice
- Creativity comes from constraint. If you limit your choices you’ll have to find other ways to get things done. Give yourself a chance to be creative!
- Let go of your goals. Sometimes they are exactly the thing that’s holding you back from what you really want.
- Tell yourself you’re only doing [new habit] for one week. It takes the pressure off of making a huge change. A lot of times we treat things as all or nothing. One week at a time is less daunting than “forever”.
- When seeking high level skills that seem nearly impossible, start by building mental blueprints of basic skills on which to build advanced moves. Take it one step at time with achievable goals that stack up one after another until you hit the top.
- Allow yourself mistakes and keep working rather than stopping yourself because it’s not perfect. If you were perfect you wouldn’t need to practice, and if you stop practicing you won’t end up anywhere. Making mistakes means you are trying!
- When practicing technique (and you should always be working on your exercise technique), take video of at least one set of each exercise a week. Sometimes it’s hard for you to tell how well you are doing day to day, but observe yourself over a month’s time and you’ll see your progress.
- As you go through your day, think of every physical action as practice. Make it smoother, more graceful, more efficient.
- The body isn’t going to take anything seriously if you are holding your breath. Work on breathing smoothly and make your training eventually feel as if it’s a normal daily activity rather than a fight.
- Think in terms of movements rather than which muscles are “worked” by an exercise. We really aren’t trying to isolate anything. If you’re doing it right, every movement is a coordinated expression of ALL your muscles.
- Don’t work through pain. Work around it if you can, and if you can’t, please get a professional to help you get better.
- It takes years to really get to know your body. Don’t rush things by failing to listen to your body signals. It’ll actually slow you down.
- If you are not a professional athlete, warrior, or SWAT-team member, don’t train like one. Train hard, but remember that you are a regular person just trying to be healthy, fit, sexy – or whatever your goals are. And there’s nothing inferior about that at all.
- There are millions of pages of free information about fitness online – and pre-internet, even in libraries. Information is cheap. What’s harder to come by is experienced guidance. Invest in it – it’s worth every penny.
- Counting reps is sometimes important. It helps to know how much work you’re doing so you can monitor your progress. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Make sure you’re paying attention to your internal experience of each repetition of each movement. It makes a huge difference in quality and makes sure you get more out of every single rep.
- Practice the basics as if they were advanced. That’s the key to advancing.
- Seriously, focus on good form…
Form is everything. When you do an exercise with bad form, you haven’t really done that exercise. You’ve done something else that’s ugly.
Jumpstart Tips for 6 Specific Skills
- Pistol – Start from the bottom up. You will often lose the right “groove” when you drop down into a pistol if your strength isn’t quite there yet. Starting at the bottom lets you find and strengthen the right position every time.
- Tumbling – Use your eyes and remember to breathe. A lot of times when we learn a new tumbling move, we get intimidated and a bit scared of it. This anxiety can interfere with our consistency. Controlled breathing helps with anxiety, and focusing on specific spots helps us keep a consistent technique.
- Handstand – Use the frogger jump for better control. Bringing both legs up at the same time teaches you how to use your lower body as one coordinated unit. This is helpful for both getting in to a handstand and keeping yourself in it.
- Pull-ups – Start the movement at your shoulders. You can have the strongest arms in the world, but they will never be as strong as your back. Starting the pull strongly at your shoulders gets your back into it right away.
- Dips – At the bottom of the dip, drive your elbows in and back as if you were trying to touch them together.
- Pick a focal point to look at when you practice tumbling moves like front rolls. It helps prevent dizziness and assists in keeping your technique consistent.
5 General Tips for Flexibility
- Build motor control as well as flexibility. Our bodies don’t like going into new ranges of motion without a sense of stability. After a stretching session, work on different exercises that take you into and out of that newly gained flexibility, and you’ll retain your gains and improve much faster.
- Bend your knees (get into whatever position you can get into). It’s not so important to copy the “textbook” stretch, as it is to work from where you are as comfortably as you can.
- Focus on one stretch for a few minutes a day to build a habit.
- Stretching doesn’t cure DOMS, but it helps release and relax tight muscles after a workout, and helps close out your session smoothly rather than ending abruptly. It also feels good, and what’s wrong with that?
- The purpose of stretching isn’t to lock out the knee or to get your sit-bones to touch the floor. The purpose of stretching is to get more flexible, so if your body is in a good position, and you feel a stretch, don’t worry if you can’t perform it perfectly. You’ll get there with time.
Our 5 Favorite Recovery Tips
- Take some magnesium before sleep. It’s one of the few minerals that is consistently hard to get for most people, and has been shown to directly affect sleep regulation.
- Try taking more of days off with specific recovery practices. Find a sauna, get a massage, try a sensory deprivation float tank, and treat your days off with the same importance as your training days.
- Schedule breaks in your training. A planned week off is much better than an unplanned one (due to sickness, injury, etc.).
- Balance out your daily stress with whatever calms you down – walking, yoga, meditation, reading, etc. But don’t obsess over leading a stress-free life. It’s simply not possible and you’ll do worse for chasing it.
- If you think you’re too busy to sleep more, you’re headed down the wrong path. We know that it just seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day but foregoing sleep is a poor solution to that problem. Getting better sleep automatically improves every aspect of your health…
The least sexy health advice of all time is to get more sleep. It’s also probably the most important.
10 Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
- What do you really want from your body? Really? What do you want to use it for? What activities do you want it to perform for you? Get really clear on that, because the actual answers might surprise you. Then think about skills or tricks you want to learn. Be clear on your priorities, make a note to remember them for a few seconds before each workout. Those are the things that are your true motivation to keep consistent for the long run.
- Your physique, much like the contents of your wallet, is a poor substitute for self confidence. Getting “jacked” or thinner won’t make you any happier unless you are happy already. If you really want to change your life, getting healthy and strong is definitely a good part of that, but don’t forget about the value of happiness. You can learn to be happier and to love yourself more. You deserve that, so don’t neglect it.
- Use it or lose it. Stretch. Reach. Extend. Push. Pull. Every day, you have an opportunity to exercise the limits of your range of comfortable motion. Take it. Unfortunately we sometimes don’t realize what we have until it’s gone, and it’s much easier to maintain what you have then to gain it back after you’ve lost it.
- Spend the first ten to fifteen minutes each day on you. It may be the only chance you get to focus on your own needs. Wake up early if you need to, but absolutely make time to prioritize your health and happiness first. Every day.
- Say no to anything you’re not in love with. Our time here is too short not to spend it doing the things we really want to do, and with the people whom we really want to spend it.
- Buy quality. Clothes. Food. Advice. What seems like a bargain in the beginning often ends up a waste of money when it doesn’t last as long as it should.
- Pick up a real book! The internet is a wonderful thing, but there’s a lot to the experience of reading besides simply absorbing information. Sit back in a nice chair with good lighting. Put your feet up. Relax. Don’t try to speed read – instead enjoy the process. We love reading everything from sports science to classic sci-fi to Russian lit and pop Buddhism. What do you read?
- You will have much better success with training – or anything in life – if you have a good support network.
- Make your goals measurable, and start with small actionable steps.
- Spend your time wisely…
There’s quite a few things to chew on with all of these tips, but the secret is not to eat all of them at one sitting! Otherwise they become just as bad as all of the other information floating around out there.
It’s better to explore a single idea deeply than to skim the surface of a thousand (or even just 42) different things.
Don’t get all gung ho and say you’ll apply all 42 tips tomorrow.
That’s ridiculous and not at all useful.
Pick just a couple that appeal to you and that you know will be easy to incorporate into your life.
Once you’ve experienced your jumpstart from a few of these tips, you’ll probably see some specific paths that you want to head down in detail. Whether it’s gaining more upper body strength, lower body flexibility, or finally nailing that skill you’ve been dreaming about, give yourself a chance to explore it deeply and stick with it.
There are a lot of programs out there from a lot of great people. The trick is to find one that intrigues you and fits who you are.
Once you’ve got that, take your time and give it the shot that it and you deserve.
Right now, choose just one or two of these tips and make a commitment to put them to work.