I felt no pain at first.
But once I saw the blood, dirt, and sweat coalesce, that’s when I felt it: A searing sensation that surged from my lower body to the back of my brain. ,It had happened again. I had fallen.
It’s amazing how quickly our brains work. For a moment, before my brain recognized any pain, I replayed the seconds leading up to my crash. Everything had proceeded as planned. I was:
- Pointed straight
- And moving towards my goal.
So how—no, why—had this happened again?
And then I heard it. The grumbly, booming, timbre of my dad’s voice. He didn’t think I heard him at first. So he repeated the most ignominious words a father can speak to his son. Words that are spoken by every father as they attempt to teach their kid(s) how to ride a bike:
“It takes practice.”
My knees looked like a scene from a Tarantino film, gushing blood everywhere, and as violently as possible. And this fucking guy, my dad, has the audacity to pour out his salty fatherly wisdom into my open wounds:
“It’s okay, Robbie, practice makes perfect.”
No Dad, fuck practice, I
want to should be good at this now. And isn’t that what we all want, though? To be good at what we’re doing now, not later?
But, that’s what we all want, right? To be good at what we’re doing now not later?
Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? The idea was exciting. I mean, sure, you’d start with training wheels. But soon, you’d be so good at this riding thing that you could take those wheels off. Four wheels are easy. Two wheels can’t be that much more difficult.
Discovering how to steer, peddle, brake, and balance not only your body, but the machine you were riding was no easy task. Falling down happens. A lot. But pain is a great teacher. And as much as seven-year-old me would hate to hear me admit this, my dad was right: practice does make you better.
The more proficient you become at a task, the more automatic it becomes. And when it comes to basic lifting patterns—the same ones you train in the gym—the more you practice them, the better you’ll become.
And this remains true with anything you do in the gym as well. When you increase your proficiency with basic lifting movements—squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, pull-up, etc.—you’re doing more than improving how you move. You’re also helping to reduce your likelihood of getting injured.
Basic Lifting Patterns in Your Daily Life
Fact: Weightlifting patterns occur in your everyday tasks.
Of course, lifting weights will help you increase strength and build more muscle so you can look great naked. But good movement patterns outside of the gym will help you prevent injuries in everyday activities.
Example: let’s say one of your goals in the gym is to get deeper in your squat.
So here’s a question for you, then: have you ever thought about the plethora of opportunities you have in a day where you can practice deep squatting with good technique? (It doesn’t matter that it’s body weight, either. How you do one thing is how you do everything.)
Reinforcing the squat
Have you ever had a friend who’s thrown out their back picking up their kid(s)?
I’m not a parent. But I’ve picked up my niece and nephew a few dozen times. And the best way to (safely) lift a child, is to get on their level. And how do you do that? You squat, duh.
Extending your hips, bending your knees, and lifting with your legs while preventing flexing through your core are movement patterns you make every day. By consciously practicing and reinforcing your movement patterns, you’ll not only practice the mechanics you use in the gym, but the mental act of this will engage more of your mind to your muscles, and that will help prevent stupid injuries from occurring.
Hey, I’m not saying you need to bust out a few sets of squats while you attend to your kid(s) or while grabbing coffee in the office break room. (Hint: you should because gains, duh.)
But if you need to put away office items in a cabinet near the floor, or you have to pick up your crying tot, why not do it while practicing good squat form?
Reinforcing the Deadlift
Fact: the deadlift helps you build a body strong as steel and increases your sex appeal by 10x.
Lost in the sexiness of deadlift PR’s, though, you might not realize what the deadlift is teaching you:
The ability to generate internal pressure, while holding a neutral spinal position, and maintaining total body tension as you move heavy ass shit.
Example: You’re helping your boy Johnny move some boxes out of his old apartment.
Take a look at this photo from the US National Mine Health and Safety Academy below. Do you notice how the “correct” way to lift resembles a proper deadlift set-up?
Neutral Spine: ✅
Hips back: ✅
Drive your legs to push through the floor: ✅
The time you spend in the gym isn’t just about building bigger muscles or shredding away body fat. Lifting is teaching your body how to reinforce proper movement patterns that you can carry over into your everyday life.
You’re training your body to automatically hold more stable and safe positions, which in turn, helps prevent injuries.
For most people, they’re more likely to get injured as they age, primarily because muscular strength decreases over the years. So strength training—no matter your age—is always the most important goal.
But the more I coach, and the more I work with a wide array of clients, the more I realize that developing explosive (athletic) power is necessary for everyone, not just sports stars.
It’s All in the Hips
The ability to explosively extend your hips is vital in every major sport. (And the bedroom.)
So how can we improve this skill outside the gym? Climbing the stairs, duh.
Practice this explosive power by driving the heel of your foot into the ground and exploding upward during each step. To quote my good friend Eric Bach: “think about explosive power as a maximum effort on a movement regardless of resistance.” The more energy you can give a movement, the more power you can create. (Basic Science 101: power is equal to energy divided by time)
When you’re in the gym, you need to focus on the basics lifting patterns:
- And weighted carries
You perform these actions every day without even thinking about it. But the carryover from practicing these movement patterns in the gym is immense:
Did your shoe magically decide to untie itself? Cool. Square your hips and perform a reverse lunge to tie it.
Standing up from the porcelain throne? Boom, powerful hip and knee extension in a squat pattern. (Oh, and don’t forget to light a match, bro.)
Putting your gains into practice
What’re you even lifting all this weight for if it’s not improving your daily functional capacity? Sure, lifting weights is vital to improving body composition, overall health, increasing confidence, and looking fucking amazing naked. But practicing the movement patterns outside the gym will go a long way in helping you prevent injury.
As a kid, I wish I understood that it wasn’t about being perfect—it was about becoming more proficient. You may not be squatting or deadlifting daily, but these movement patterns are a part of your every day. When you reinforce all the basic lifting patterns inside and outside the gym, then you’ll see that you’re maximizing your time and effort.