Integrated Training – How To Train Your Mind and Body Together
No matter how you move, breathe, stretch, train or sit in contemplation, everything should be done in your head. If you want to reach your full potential you must train your mind and body together.
What is Integrated Training?
Lets start with a simple equation: You + Training = A Better You
Or at least that’s how it should be. And by “Better You” I mean a mind and body that are capable and useful in almost any given situation; that is, never more than a few weeks away from competition ready and can go at the drop of a hat. Mind and Body. Together. So if you don’t train the mind, you’re short changing yourself.
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And by “at the drop of a hat” I mean that you shouldn’t always need to stretch, foam roll and mobilize to perform at a fundamental level.
So here’s a quick question. Can you, right now, step away from the computer, step outside and run a 10k in less than an hour? Right this moment!
No excuses about yesterdays leg day.
No excuses about not prehydrating.
No excuses about stretching.
Right now. Can you?
I’ll accept no as an answer if you’re a competitive strength athlete, say a powerlifter. Or you’re carrying a significant injury. Otherwise you need to ask yourself why you can’t. And the likely answer is you’re training is either incomplete or it has not integrated into your overall life. And this is bothersome to me.
How I used integrated training to master my martial arts practice and my mind and body.
28 years ago I stepped in St Martins Junior Karate club, a step that changed my life. It introduced me to the world of physical training; of sweat, of hard work, self respect and respect for others, respect for the struggle and the process.
23 years ago I stepped into a weight room for the first time. The reason I was in the weight room was the same reason I went out running, the same reason I sat in quiet contemplation and the same reason I worked on flexibility. To improve my karate. That was my only goal. I had endurance and speed, but no power. I was missing strength.
So I sought out a coach and began lifting. I got stronger. My Karate improved. As did every other aspect of my life.
I was calmer, more focussed, more relaxed in myself. I was karate. My training was complete. A pretty significant result for a 17 year old don’t you think? And it showed, I never lost any more competitions and at 18 I achieved my black belt. Not only that but I passed my school exams, much to my teachers surprise as well as my own!
I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m telling you this to illustrate a point.
My training at that time (and many many times since) was complete and totally integrated into my entire life. My mind and body were working together. And this is what seems to missing in today’s modern fitness trend.
These days everything is separate, everything is in boxes, filed away and kept neat. Nothing is blended and mixed. So you do your mindfulness by sitting on a cushion in a quiet room. You do your strength training in a power rack with Rage Against the Machine blaring out. You do your stretching in the Yoga class on a Tuesday. And you go for a run on the weekends. And that’s all good. But is it all adding together? Is it complete?
Are all of our training elements separate tools or should they all be integrated for a stronger mind and body?
What if you took your mindfulness into the weight room and practised it while you lifted? What of you loaded up those yoga poses with a bit of weight, while being mindful? What if you took the focus from that session and held it while you performed your next act of the day, any act, reading email? answering the phone? polishing your shoes?
Now you’re starting to get it.
Everything must add up to a better you. You can’t just turn it on in the gym, you go to the gym to practice being able to turn it on. As far as I’m concerned physical training was built around the warrior classes. The only people who were encouraged to exercise, or who had the luxury of exercise were the warriors and the gentry. And if you’re a warrior, if you’re paid to go out and fight, to put your life on the line, you better make sure your mind and body are integrated.
Every moment you spend lifting a weight or practicing a stance, hitting a heavy bag or stretching out your hips had better be done with the thought of going into battle foremost in your mind. Even though I’m no longer competitive as a martial artist or kettlebell athlete, nor do I work in the security field any more, when I train, fighting is in my brain, front and centre.
I don’t expect you to think the same, but your overall goal should be there. That goal may be golf, it may be playing with your kids, it may be achieving a promotion in work, it maybe achieving a certain body shape. Whatever it is, it should be in your head as you train. As you move, as you breathe, as you stretch, as you sit in contemplation.
This is what will make your training complete. This is what brings the mind and body together.
It is also what will help you decide if a particular training method, style or exercise is actually useful to you or not.
It will help you integrate your various trainings into your life.
It will ensure the lessons learned under the iron or while gasping for breath carry over into every other aspect of your life.
You + Training = A Better You.
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