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How to Make the Easy, Harder


Coach Chesty speaks about making simple things harder.
 
There are reasons to why something feels too easy; you’re not doing it, you’re not trying hard enough, maybe you’re a rockstar and ready to move on. This is not an exhausted list, but does highlight a few ideas beyond “doing it wrong.” I’ll assume you’re doing it right, should I be wrong, I’m sure your coach can help with that. I like squeezing as much value out of an exercise as I can before I’m on to the next one. 
 
It should be noted that progressions offer ways to safely navigate the movement hierarchy. Too often a level is left behind once being completed. Before moving up, try thinking out, in, or sideways. Create more value from the level you’re on. Let's try making simple things harder. The nervous system needs consistent input to nurture the learning process, something repeatable. It needs something exciting enough to respond to what your asking of it. You're asking it to adapt, so it needs a strong stimulus (reason) to be excited.
 
Irradiating more tension is one technique. A muscle that works hard enough will recruit neighbouring muscles, and if those muscles are part of the action, the action becomes strengthened, and potentially more intense. Make a fist as hard as you can, seriously, squeeze as hard as you can. If you legit squeezed all out, you may notice contractions travel up the arm and even into the shoulder. Now apply that from the core out, and the extremities in. The entire body should be irradiating with contractions and you may feel like you’re going to explode. With increasing levels of contraction, you stimulate the nervous system and muscle tissue. You may even increase the structural integrity of the joints, as the added tissue tension reinforces the structures it encases. You must give your body a reason to adapt.
 
Assume the setup position of a movement. Inhale and trap some air in your belly. Continue to breathe in a whilst gradually increasing the contractions in your body during the exhale. Bring yourself up to your highest, safest, level of tension, ramp it up. Perform your exercise. Note that breathing techniques change between dynamic and static exercises. Continue to breathe in a shallow manner during the static ones.
 
Tempo or a time adjustment. How long are you under tension for? Go ahead and time it. If you complete your reps in a few seconds, I sure hope you’re doing speed work. As valuable as that can be, you’re not giving your body much time to figure things out. Increasing your time tension can kick up the stress of an exercise. More time holding or moving, overloads the nervous system and the muscle tissues. This a rich source of information for the body, and it lasts long enough for you to absorb it. You must give your body a reason to adapt. 
 
Assume your set up position of a movement. Perform your exercise and practice contracting for longer at the top, as you move through the middle, and at the bottom. Pause, squeeze, and slow yourself down.
 
You might notice we employ these in our programming, they're tried, tested, and true. Consider where these might be useful elsewhere in your training. Be mindful of overdoing any of these, if it feels like too much, it may likely be too much. These are easier to insert into simpler movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, in their purest forms), as a back-flip isn't advised to be attempted in slow motion.
 
Make simple things harder.