How We Keep the Basics Interesting

We talk a LOT about “the basics,” but we also get that literally zero people are out there thinking “oh wow, I can’t wait to do basic stuff forever!”

Basics aren’t sexy.

They’re actually a lot like spinach. You know they’re good for you, but you’d probably rather have some fried chicken or ice cream instead.

So this show is about how to do two things that’ll help you give the basics the love they deserve without wanting to throw yourself in front of a train:

how and why you should cultivate a greater tolerance for boredomlots of ways you can make basic exercises more interesting, even after you’ve been practicing them for years

Ryan will share some of his tips that have helped him continue to enjoy working on skills like handstands, even after almost forty years of practice.

If you want our suggestions for basic skills to work on while you apply these tips, check out this article.

Click here to see all our podcast episodes.

Resources mentioned

Bodyweight Exercises for BeginnersAll GMB PodcastsGMB Alpha PosseLocomotion Exercises to Build Strength and Agility

Transcript of How we keep the basics interesting

Andy: All right, all right, welcome to the Geriatric Muzzle Biters podcast.

Ryan: Sounds like Brie, I think that’s for Brie right?

Andy: It is.

Ryan: She’s so old.

Andy: She is. She’s a very, very old lady now. We talk a lot about trading basics but we also like to talk about having fun. I think fun is very important, everybody does better when things are fun. Everyone likes fun, right? But after a while when you’ve been doing a program, even if it started out a lot of fun, a lot of times things get boring, right? This is what we’re going to talk about today, boredom. Why you shouldn’t necessarily try to avoid it and what to do about it. Yeah, so we all know that consistent work on basics is really important and on the off chance that you didn’t know that, I will prove to you quickly that it’s true.

Andy: Basically, pretend it’s players. When they are practicing they still, even pros, practice hundreds and hundreds of serves a day. To make sure that their serve is still good. If it’s good enough for Serena Williams, and you’re not Serena Williams, unless you are, hi Serena, but you also need to practice basic stuff all the time. You never get to a point, even as one of the best athletes in the world, where you can stop doing the basic things. You have to have those basics. Ryan is going to talk about a lot of the basics that he still practices, why and how. These things are important. Then back to boredom though, what do you do? How do you deal with boredom?

Ryan: How do you deal with it? You just suck it up, that’s all it is. You just have to learn suck it up, right?

Andy: In the short term that can work, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Also, I mean, any time you have something that’s like, “Suck it up,” or, “This is going to be terrible and you just have to deal with it,” over the long term, that’s where things get destructive.

Ryan: Absolutely. I remember a … I should fact check this because I don’t actually know if it is the truth or not, but I’ve heard that Picasso use to always start off every single day, before he would paint, draw, or what not, would practice circles. Drawing circles. That’s it.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Just do that, and just do that, and just do that. The thing is, it wasn’t just a matter of drawing the circles, he had a purpose, and that was to bring awareness into what he was drawing and how he was drawing those. First, dealing with boredom, it’s awareness. You, and myself, and even [Jarlo 00:03:00], were, I want to say maybe a little bit different than other people, but we actually kind of embraced that. We can do something and do a lot of it, of the same thing, in and out, in and out, in and out, but the thing is it’s not that we’re just going through the motions, it’s always about awareness, right. I think that’s the major take with this in looking at boredom.

Ryan: Being able to bring awareness to anything that you are doing then, I think, personally, you are no longer bored. The thing with dealing with my son, right now a big thing is he’s really into video games. When go somewhere he always wants to bring his game. I say, “Hey buddy, let’s … instead of doing that,” he can’t take it on the train, or anything like that, so, “let’s talk.” He’s like, “No, that’s boring.”

Ryan: I think you see a lot of people, a lot of kids especially these days, where they have to be connected to something. They haven’t had an opportunity where they’ve actually had to be creative in their minds when there’s not something in front of them that they’re doing. I think a lot of times that can equate to boredom. You and I, Jarlo, very active minds. Even when we’re sitting there and it looks like we’re not doing anything, other people might think, “Aren’t you bored or something when you’re doing something,” but we have a very active mind when we’re doing that, because we’re looking at being aware of whatever is going on. Again, it just really comes down to, I think, awareness of what you’re doing.

Ryan: Also, having a purpose with that particular thing that you’re doing. Rather than trying to do too many of one thing, I think that it has to all be done at that time. Just focus on one single thing within that movement within that thing that you’re writing, that thing that you’re creating, when you’re going for a walk, or something like that. That awareness with a purpose, I think, is a big part of this.

Andy: I think that’s actually a really good point too. A lot of times boredom isn’t a reaction to the state of the present moment so much as it’s a feeling of missing out on other things you could be doing.

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: On other stimulating things.

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: “Oh I’m bored because I feel like I should be doing more things. I feel like I should be doing other things, I should be changing it up. I should be getting more this, and that, and doing some other thing. I’m bored because I don’t have a video in front of me, entertaining me constantly.”

Ryan: Right, right.

Andy: You’re not bored because of where you’re sitting and what you’re doing, you’re bored because of what you think you’re missing out on a lot of times.

Ryan: That is such a huge point. We see this so much, especially with Instagram, and you see the new flashy things, and think that you need to be doing something else. There’s a quote that I came across the other day, and I’ve heard this a few times, but it’s from Blaise Pascal, it’s actually from 1654. He said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Now we can go off and talk about different meaning behind that, but I just always thought that was interesting because that’s actually what we do see a lot these days. Where people can’t be with themself, and just like what you said, there needs to be something in front of them to stimulate them in order to keep them from being bored. I tell you what, I love not having anything in front of me.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Or being around anybody when I can. Because to me, really, that’s my time to just think and do the things I want. This is also why I actually love being on airplanes without wifi, or anything like that. There’s so many people around me, but the thing is, is I can actually just sit there and not be bored, because I can sit with my thoughts, and just be. That could be a whole other topic, of course, but really today we’re talking about looking at some things that we can do in order to help reframe the way that we look at this. Especially when we’re performing the basics, which are so important, because in order to get good at anything, you need to get in as many quality repetitions as possible. You should always be coming back to the basics.

Ryan: I want to say, coming back to the basics doesn’t mean that you’re dropping down a level. You’re looking at coming back to those basics on a higher level, because you actually have a higher … the knowledge that you carry back when you look at those basics again is at a higher level. It’s actually an upward spiral, if you will, when you’re returning to those basics.

Andy: Yeah, and I mean, and just to take this logically. Like you said, Ryan, getting a lot of quality reps of almost anything is good for you, right? More repetitions of doing something well.

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: Well the thing is, when you’re doing something new, when you’re doing something that you haven’t done before, or haven’t done very much of, you’re not going to do it as well as the things that you’ve done before. This is one reason why continuing to return to basics at that higher level of skill, and awareness, and knowledge, with more strength, with more mobility, with more control, right? Being able to return to basics where you are now, as somebody who has that practice behind them, and gives you a chance to gt more quality practice in, than on stuff that is new. We’re not saying don’t do new things, because the more you do those, then you’ll also get better at them too, right?

Ryan: Right.

Andy: You can sort of stack things in your favor. You can build your reservoir of quality reps on the basics much more easily, and much more quickly, than you can on newer things, or more challenging things, or things that you’re still working on.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Andy: None of this is to say that novelty is a bad thing.

Ryan: Yeah, no.

Andy: None of this is to [inaudible 00:09:19] be excited, or do new things, or move forward. If you’re always doing different things, always doing new things, always moving forward, always seeing novelty, well that also doesn’t lead to progress.

Ryan: Right.

Andy: You end up just doing a lot of things but not getting better at them. I think pretty much anybody listening to this has had that experience. Where they’ve done things, they’ve been adding things, they’ve done more, they’ve worked harder, they work longer, added more stuff to the routine, kept moving, and felt like they were in that red queen effect, where you have to move faster and faster just to stay in the same place.

Ryan: Right.

Andy: Progress comes from repeating things.

Ryan: Yes, yes.

Andy: Progress comes from repeating things and so you need a balance between these two. If you’re somebody who is chronically seeking novelty, somebody who has a hard time with doing repetitions, with basics, with continuing to do those things, then hopefully some of the tips, and tricks, and tactics, that we’re going to talk about later on will help you sort of get past that so that you can get the benefit of repetition. Of repetition of that base of stuff that helps you be better.

Ryan: Now this is … yeah.

Andy: So that when [inaudible 00:10:41] novelty that you’re improving still.

Ryan: Yes, this is a great lead in actually, we can give you a case study, if you will. In the alpha posse, like Kevin, he has a log, in his training log, he calls it the Old Man in the Rings. This is a really interesting one, because he’s started and then stopped our programs, and basically jumping from one another when he got to a certain point. Then when things really started, he needed to put his chin down and do the work, the novelty of something else was jumping in front of him, so he [inaudible 00:11:20]. It wasn’t until he actually completed a full program that he realized, “Wow, if I stick with it, I’m going to be pretty darn good.” Thanks to that, and sticking with it one time, and understanding that he needed to finish that rather than jumping on to something different, that helped to create that base for him to be able to continue on with the other things.

Ryan: I thought that was very interesting. There’s other people, I’m sure, like that. I mean if you just look at … let’s look at ourselves, you know? Ourselves, meaning like the listener, I’m sure there things out there where you started a program, and you’re a couple weeks into your training program. You say, “Hey,” in the very beginning there’s that honeymoon period, and you’re like, “Wow, this is really, really cool.” Two to three weeks into it, you’re like, “Okay, it’s still okay, but I kind of want to do something else,” or whatnot, so you jump onto another program. The same thing happens. You realize that you’re really not progressing in anything.

Ryan: Instead, what we’re going to be talking about today, the basics of today, is saying, “Okay, let’s stick with one thing, and get really good at that.” That’s going to help further strengthen our base of whatever it is that you’re doing. Doing that, it’s actually going to allow you to pick up those other things faster thanks to the fact that you have stuck with creating that solid base and sticking with one thing even thought it might have a bit boring for you. Yeah, let’s just kind of get into it really and talk a little bit about developing the capacity for boredom.

Andy: Yeah, this is the thing is, you know, we can give you lots of examples of things to make things more interesting, to help keep basic practice more interesting, but you are going to also have to learn how to build your capacity for boredom. We said boredom isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing that reminds us that we’re not doing other things. One thing is you just have to practice being bored.

Ryan: Yes, yes.

Andy: If you find that you’re bored, don’t say, “Oh my god, what do I do? How do I stop being bored?” Say, “Okay, I’m bored.” Right? That’s one thing. We do this with a lot of stuff when we notice that we’re in a certain state, we just try to change it. “Oh, I’m angry, I need to stop being angry, anger is bad.” Well, maybe you can feel your anger and learn how to deal with, and how to control it, and how to have a mature response to that.

Ryan: Exactly. You first need to be aware of it though is what you’re saying, right?

Andy: Right.

Ryan: It all comes back to that awareness.

Andy: Yeah and then practice being bored. I’ll be honest, practice being bored sounds basically like my entire high school career. It’s not something sounds like I want to repeat, but it’s a thing that you just have to spend time being bored, and then teaching yourself that you can be okay with that. That it’s okay to be bored with something and still get value out of the practice. For example, if, let’s just say, you’re practicing pushups, right? You have pushups in your program.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: These people with their 80,000 pushup variations on the YouTubes, and you think, “Oh man, I don’t know. These regular pushups are so boring, maybe I should be doing these other things.” Well, maybe that’s an opportunity to just practice doing them, and say, “Okay, I will be bored doing these pushups,” but then also recognize when you’re getting stronger, and that they become easier, let yourself understand that that boredom also has, on the other side of the equation, it has a payoff.

Ryan: Yes, yes.

Andy: If you can be aware, not just of the boredom itself, but of the payoff for it, sometimes that can give all you need to balance that sort of feeling of missing out, that you’re not missing out. That you are getting something out of it.

Ryan: Right, and the thing is too, and we talk about this quite a bit, is spending more time on the basics is actually going to lead, naturally, to you getting those higher skills. Whereas if you were try and just do a different variation, or jump into a higher progression, might actually take you longer to get that simply because you don’t have those basics down. You didn’t have stay in that state of boredom, if you will, in order to give yourself enough time to really, really understand what was going on in that particular movement. What you said too, I think is wonderful, because if you do understand that it is leading to something, it’s your why. It’s easier to actually continue to be in that bored state, if you will. Spend more time doing those pushups. If you do understand that, “Okay, if I do this, it’s going to give me X,” or whatever, “for that.”

Andy: Yeah, another thing is just accountability, having somebody check in on you. That doesn’t mean you have to have somebody stand over you while you do boring exercises, right? Just have somebody check in. Like, “Did you do the thing? Did you do the stuff?” Right now I’m trying to … I haven’t ever really studied kanji much, in Japanese. I’ve focused, pretty much, on spoken Japanese. I can read a little bit, but not very well. Lately I’ve been trying to work on starting an elementary school level again and just practicing writing the letters.

Andy: And typing things up. The software just brings up the word. You don’t have to memorize the letters. I’m trying to practice writing these letters so that I can really understand them better, and get better at Japanese. This is tedious, and it’s hard, and I hate it, and it’s so boring, but the accountability is I do this when my daughter is doing her homework.

Ryan: Oh that’s, that’s really good.

Andy: When she’s doing her homework, I sit down and take out my drill book, and work on it too.

Ryan: That’s really cool.

Andy: You know, that gives me a little bit of accountability to be able to do that even though I do not enjoy it at all.

Ryan: Nice man, that’s really good. I remember when I was learning Japanese all those years ago, I remember … that’s all I did. I just wrote everything down.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: I didn’t, obviously back then I don’t even think I had a computer with me in Japan, to be honest. I remember, for me though, it was actually exciting. A lot of people would have looked at that as like, “It’s tedious, it’s boring,” but I saw the end, where I wanted to go with it. It kept me really going and I think thanks to that it really skyrocketed my level of Japanese quickly. Yeah, again it’s [inaudible 00:18:12] …

Andy: There’s some other boring things you’ve done that have had payoffs. Specific example, this isn’t just a vague thing. Like, “Do the basics a lot.”

Ryan: Right.

Andy: What are some specific things that you’ve done that were boring, that stayed boring, that you kept doing anyway, and paid off?

Ryan: Yeah, well a big thing with me was zen meditation. When I first did that I actually wasn’t going into it because I wanted to do zen meditation. It was a part of what I was doing in my experience in Japan that first time I was here. This was actually through my martial art. I was wanting just to focus on the martial art, but that martial art some of it was in the zen meditation. I remember before and after, so you would sit in zen, Zazen is what it’s called. You would do it before practice and you would do it afterwards and it was pretty long. I remember, I was just like, “Let’s hurry up and get to the good stuff.” I realized that actually was the good stuff. It took me a really long time to get that. I was bored to shit man. I remember falling asleep, there were numerous times when I’d fall asleep and just get smacked. You know how you fall asleep, and they’re walking by, and they know you’re asleep, and the just go … they would smack you on the shoulder. Yeah, that was one thing.

Ryan: The other thing, riding the train every single day. I remember when I was working at the martial arts complex. I would have to ride the train. It was about 45 minutes, because I live a ways away. I remember getting on the train and it was so packed with people. In the beginning it was that I didn’t enjoy it, that was the first week or so, but then after that it just gets redundant. You’re just kind of like, “It’s so boring,” but I actually ended up really, really enjoying it. It changed because I actually was like, “Okay, there’s a lot of people on the train that I can look at, and whatever.” Actually, it’s funny that I mention the zen meditation, because I actually started using that as an opportunity for me to meditate during that 45 minutes that I was on the train. Stretching, and still to this day, stretching to me, holy shit.

Andy: Stretching is so boring.

Ryan: I’m just like, “I really, really … ” like for example, the bridge, I’m going to say to everybody, I don’t like stretching. I know how important it is, it’s great, it’s going to help you, everything, but still to this day, this morning, I had a really early meeting this morning. After my meeting I just needed to get out so I went for a walk for 90 minutes. Then I was like, okay, I’m going to stretch. The reason I stretch is because my hip flexors were so tight. I was just like, “I just got to do it.” I did and I ended up doing it, but again, this is just that one thing, still to this day, where I’m just like …

Ryan: The other thing too is yesterday when I was in my Brazilian jiu-jitsu group that I have. We always do the same warm up basics. A lot of people would be like, “Well shouldn’t you mix it up and thing?” I’m like, “No,” the reason why is because we are drilling, so those become part of the drills. What I mean by warm up, I’m talking like, for example, we focus the same leg drag. We focus on the same knee to belly with wiper over. Those certain things that actually is going to help us for when we’re learning new things down the line by making sure we’re focusing on the basics and doing that. Other thing with GMB, I still do bear-monkey-hermit crab. We’re talking the most basic, basic level. It can be kind of boring. Anything for the basics, pushups, I just did pushups two days ago, but the thing is that can seem boring to a lot of people, but they’re important. We’re actually going to get into, her in a little bit, about how you can actually reframe the way that you look at those things in order to make them exciting, if you will, while you’re doing that.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Before that …

Andy: Well, and these basic movements, obviously, we put these in our programs. We’re at the middle of the podcast, which as everybody who has ever listened to a podcast knows, this is the time where everybody with a podcast wants you to buy the shitty supplements from their sponsors.

Ryan: It’s now a word from our sponsor.

Andy: We don’t have any sponsors and we don’t have any supplements for you, sorry. We make programs.

Ryan: Damn it. Damn it.

Andy: Honestly, I don’t even care if you buy them.

Ryan: Check out our free shit on YouTube.

Andy: Yeah, well the thing is what we want you to do is decide what’s important to you. If you’ve been listening to these episodes, you’ve picked up on that theme by now, right? Decide what’s important to you and act accordingly. If GMB can help you with a program, then we’d be honored to serve you. Otherwise, do what’s best for you. Do what’s important. If you already know how to make a program, then yeah, you can get all the information on YouTube. YouTube is amazing. The reason that trying to learn how to train from YouTube is bad, is basically that you spend all day watching YouTube videos and in the end, you still know jack shit about how to put them together. That’s what a program is.

Ryan: Because you went down the rabbit hole and you lost your focus on what you should have really been focusing on.

Andy: Yeah. This is the thing, where instead of doing the boring working just doing what’s written down, you go looking for new exercises, and you find yourself spending hours and hours on YouTube. Right?

Ryan: I’ve never done that before ever.

Andy: Ever.

Ryan: Never ever. Yeah.

Andy: The thing is, exactly, we do all of this stuff too. We’re not enlightened guru masters. Well, I mean I’m a little lighter than you. [inaudible 00:24:06] yeah, so let’s talk about then, some of the things that we do specifically to keep things interesting. Some of this stuff is built into our program, built into our community. A lot of it is just stuff that you have to become aware of yourself, and where your head is, while you’re doing things. After the novelty wears off, after you get the basics down and you know what you’re doing, and you’re no longer in that this is new to me mode, you have to be in charge of bringing your head to what you’re doing, rather than letting it go to all of those different places.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Andy: These are some ways that we try to do it.

Ryan: That’s right. I would start off by giving an example of myself. Last weekend, I walked 48 kilometers, which is 30 miles. The thing is we all know how to walk, if you can walk, if you have the body that is able to walk, you’ve been walking for quite a while. The thing is, is walking 30 miles can get pretty damn boring. I mean just to be honest, right?

Andy: I bet.

Ryan: I don’t have my headphones in, I’m just walking. I decided to actually make it a community event. What I did was last week made an announcement that I’m going to be doing this and that I was going to be doing a live ask me anything on Instagram. Part of the reason to do this was … I mean there was a couple reasons. One, is to, again, connect with our community, things like that. But to be honest, part of it was also to help me just to continue to keep walking and let me to be able to communicate with people and have this connection, while I’m cranking out these miles and kilometers. The big thing here, if we’re looking at community, there’s a lot of different things that you can do in order to take those things that you feel are boring and include other people in that with you. It really changes the dynamic.

Ryan: Another example would be our Alpha Posse community that we have. Let’s say that you are going through and you’re performing pushups. The thing is, is you can get on there, and you can post your log. Just simply by making this public, and letting people know that you are doing something, gives yourself a little bit of pressure. Is what we need sometimes, is we need that pressure sometimes in order just to keep going. That’s one example of this.

Ryan: The other thing is that I suggest for everybody to do, if you are an Alpha Posse, if you’re listening, you are an Alpha Posse, you’re doing something, reach out, create a new thread or what not, and just create an informal little mini challenge, if you will. For example, let’s say, “Hey everybody, let’s just do bear walk every single day for the same basic, basic, basic, bear walk, and just do it for like 14 days, or something like that.” It doesn’t need to be a month, it could even just be a week, seven days. The thing is, is getting other people involved with that, you’re don’t doing anything fancy, literally just doing the first progression of the bear walk, but each day log in what’s going on.

Ryan: What this is going to do is help you to bring better awareness to that particular movement, you’re going to learn a lot. If you reframe the way that you look at that, and just say, “Hey, listen, what’s going on? What did I learn from doing this today?” It’s going to change everything. It’s going to take that boredom out of it, because you have that purpose for that day. You have that community that you’re doing it with. Then it really becomes fun. That’s a big thing about this. This is why I started the study group for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. We don’t pay money, it’s free, we just get together, we just go over the basics.

Andy: You top sensei guy.

Ryan: We don’t have an instructor. Exactly, no. It’s just us. What we do is we get together and we say, “Okay, here’s one thing that we want to focus on.” It’s literally just one basic movement and we drill the crap out of it. We end up spending like two hours just practicing this one single movement. I’ll tell you what, it helps so much, because when we go, and we go to the other practices where we actually put that into motion, literally by rolling with another person, we find that we have that now. We’re very comfortable doing that. All the reps that we did, the quality reps, and doing it over, and over, and over, led to us being able to perform that at a higher level later. That’s that community thing side of it.

Ryan: There’s also other things, of course, you can do. Let people know that you’re doing something. Get people involved. Even you aren’t on the community site, do this in person.

Andy: Yeah, you can do this with any group that you have access to.

Ryan: If you’re in [inaudible 00:29:04] right now … yeah, do it with your friends. If you’re doing GMB, if you’re not a trainer, that’s fine. Get some people together that are also interested in doing this. Just practice it. See what happens, okay? We’re not saying teach it, or anything like that, it doesn’t need to be that way. You’re looking at just using each other in a good way, to help each other, to continue to focus on this. Anything to add to that?

Andy: I mean, yeah. I think it can really be easy. Like if you are doing nothing in the mornings, and you want to start doing something in the morning. I have a friend, and he does 20 pushups every morning. Not a ton, it’s not like he’s getting his full supply of strength training there, but he’s just doing it. He feels better afterwards. What he does is every time he does it in the morning, and then he has a couple of people that he just tells, “Oh, I just knocked out my 20.”

Ryan: That’s great.

Andy: The best.

Ryan: That’s really good.

Andy: Right?

Ryan: That’s great.

Andy: That’s all. That’s all. If they want to do something and tell him about it, then that’s cool. He starts it from himself and he just says, “Hey, I just did this and I feel great. You should do something too.”

Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I love that.

Andy: It’s not hard.

Ryan: It’s really good. That’s really, really good. Yeah. Fun, fun is the other thing.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: This is the next thing we can talk about is fun. Say have a particular movement that you’ve been working on, and the bear walk is a great example that we can use for that. Look at different ways of doing it. I’m not talking about variations where actually looking at progressions and things like that. I’m talking the actual just basic move that you’re working on. Try and think about it from a different point of view. For example, you can try changing up your hands, hand position, when you’re performing the bear walk. You can try and purposely pigeon toe walk when you’re doing it, just to see what’s going. Go backwards. Go side to side. Little things like this, even though you’re still doing that movement, you’re changing one simple thing in there, and it really, really changes the entire way that you can look at it.

Ryan: The other thing too, you can have a particular theme. Let’s say this theme today is strength. Just by saying in your mind, “Okay, to day I want to focus on strength,” but you’re still doing that same movement, the reframe can change the way that you put the focus in your body. Same with flexibility, let’s say, “Okay, today I want to make the bear walk about flexibility.” You maybe bring the focus more towards your hamstrings and say, “Okay, am I really feeling as a stretch when I’m working on the bear in this particular position.” The other thing you could do is, let’s say, control. You can actually change up the tempo, the speed at which you’re performing the bear walk. Just that simple reframe makes a big, big difference.

Ryan: The other thing I’d like to say about keeping things fun is doing them in different places. Let’s say that you’re always doing the bear walk the same place, the same time, whatever. I got into the habit of doing this when I was learning the one arm handstand. Jarlo was the one who gave me a big slap in the face because he was just like, “Dude, you got to do them in other places.” The reason why is simply it keeps it fun because you’re kind of having to learn that movement again. Even though it’s the same exact move, simply changing where you do it is a big, huge difference.

Ryan: Andy, we were just talking about this before the podcast. Going from say a matted area to a hardwood floor. You talk a little bit about that, because I was just like, “Yeah, that was perfect.”
Andy: Well so we had to move dojos because they closed ours down temporarily to prepare for the 2020 Olympics here in Tokyo. We have to move to another dojo and we are, for the next moth, where kind of temporarily training on a hardwood floor. I practiced for about two and a half hours last night and I was Ryan earlier, man, my legs are so sore from doing the same things that we always do.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: But the way you use your feet to grip a floor versus being on mat, and the amount of absorption of force, completely different. I’m doing the exact same movements, the exact same very basic things, I’m challenging myself in ways that are very, very different. To be honest, I’ll be extremely glad next month when we’re back on mats because it’s very difficult, but it does remind me too that it’s a good practice to do periodically. Also, we talk about all of these floor movements, and things on the floor, doing this on a harder surface sometimes, I wouldn’t say to practice when you’re brand new to back rolls.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: If you’ve been doing them for a while and you get pretty good at them, a hard surface reveals all those little bumps that you need to smooth out. I actually practice all of my tumbling on hard floors. I’ve spent years working on that. That is one reason why I don’t really do a lot of very flashy stuff now, but all of the things I have are very smooth. Even last night, we were talking about this, and I was able to do diving rolls, back rolls, that kind of thing, without making very much sound. Right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: That’s something that it takes practice, but it really smooths out those movements.

Ryan: That’s perfect, because, and it actually kind of leads into the other thing. The next thing that we’re going to talk about is specific movements. I actually brought up earlier about the handstand. I mentioned doing this in different places. The way that things change is I was practicing on a flat surface suing …

Andy: Using a board.

Ryan: … my hand balance board, my hand balancing board. I remember I was at Jarlo’s house, in his garage, and I was on his Olympic weight lifting platform. I was trying to do handstands, the one arm handstands. I could not get them. I realized that his garage was slopped, there was a little slope, tiny slope, and then also the board that I was using was a little warped, to be honest. It was probably from him slamming down weights, I don’t even know. The funny thing is though, I was like, “Okay,” I was so use to doing it elsewhere, similar to what you were saying on going from a mat to the hardwood floor, it actually make my handstands better once I had the basics down, of course.

Ryan: Get the basics down somewhere, but by changing things up, doing it on a different surface, is really going to tax your body in a different way, as well as tax you mentally because you’re having to learn something new almost while you’re doing it. It’s a wonderful way to keep things interesting. Again, I do suggest first get the basics down, whatever you’re doing, so that you actually have that particular pattern down. Once you have that down, changing things up, I think, is so important.

Ryan: Another example, this is a huge example, would be if you were always on a treadmill. You’re running on a treadmill, or even just walking on a treadmill, taking that off road, it’s going to completely change things up, because there’s so many other different dynamics going on.

Andy: Walking on a path versus walking on a sidewalk in an urban area, versus walking in the woods …

Ryan: Yes, exactly.

Andy: … these are all very different experiences of the same activity.

Ryan: Right, yeah, and I was going to lead to that too in terms of going out in the woods and things like that. It just makes it also more interesting, just simply for the fact that you are in a different location instead of a gym looking at a TV screen or something like that. Again, looking at the handstand, coming back to the handstand portion of this. There are some ways that we can make slight changes, if you will, in order to keep these more interesting is let’s say you’re working on a handstand, and the goal of your handstand is actually to try and stay up there longer. A lot of people would just focus on the standard handstand position, where the legs are together, or the legs or straight and toes are pointed.

Ryan: But there’s nothing wrong, in fact I encourage people, once they get to the certain point where they’re able to hold that handstand a little bit, to actually try different shapes with the legs. Straddle your legs, bend your legs, move your legs. The thing is, is yes, it’s going to change the position of your body in the handstand, but the thing is, is by doing that it’s actually going to force you to get better and keep the training very interesting, and actually fun, while you’re improving your stamina, while you’re improving the strength, while you’re improving actually your flexibility and your control. It’s going to make your handstand better overall.

Ryan: If we move on to things like locomotion, we’ve already talked about this with the bear walk. Going from changing the way you look at it, if you look at strength, flexibility, or control, maybe changing up the speed, or things like that. Again, if you’re always doing that on the mat, maybe try it without a mat. Go outside and do it on the grass. That changes things up considerably. Considerably.

Andy: Right.

Ryan: I love that.

Andy: Another one that I love for locomotion type stuff that people don’t really think about a lot is if you have an area where there is a small change in level.

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: I’m talking like on and off of a sidewalk kind of thing. Not something that’s huge, not onto a box, because you can’t walk on box, right? Doing these bear walks, crab walks, monkey, frog, or these kind of things, on and off of just a very small rise, changes them really, really considerably. Another thing is we talked in an earlier episode about developing flow about a lot of different variations and ways to come up with new variations for things. If you go back and listen to that one, you’ll see a lot of things that you can try that will make all of these locomotor and sort of movement pattern type exercises a little more interesting, without changing the exercise by doing it in a slightly different way, with a little different emphasis that will give you more control. In those examples, that was specifically the value of focusing more on these things even after it starts to get a little boring, is that you develop this smoothness and flow,, which lets you apply them more easily to a wider variety of situations.

Ryan: That’s great, yeah. Yeah. I remember doing a video when I was in South Africa in Cape Town. I did a video where I was actually going, looking at these level changes while I was doing locomotion. Going from bear, going up on benches, and around stuff. I’ve actually forgotten about that, that’s a really good one.

Ryan: Another thing we look at are pull ups or chin ups. Any kind of pulling exercise that you’re doing. I don’t a lot of people just focus on the bar, or even just the rings, but hell, you could look at a tree limb, as long as it’s sturdy, of course. A door frame, again, as long as it’s sturdy. Completely changes up the dynamic. Not just for the fact of how you’re gripping, but actually how you have to change your body slightly in order to accommodate for whatever you’re using. There could also be things where if you’re using the rings, and you’re always using them at the higher height, were your legs can hang free, you can change it up where you can lower the rings, where it’s forcing you to actually sit down on the ground with your legs crossed, and practice pulling from that particular position as well. You can change the rings, the heights of the rings, so one would be higher than the other in order to focus on that. The mantle pull up, if you will. There’s a lot of different ways to change this up.

Ryan: The other thing that I’ve been exploring with recently, I just started doing it this week. That is when I’m performing my chin up, what I’m doing ins I’m pulling to that top position, I’m holding for five seconds, I lower to 90 degrees, my arms are at 90 degrees, I hold for five seconds. I lower to 120 degrees, hold for five seconds. I go to a full dead hang, hold for five seconds. Then I do an explosive chin up afterwards. Again, similar to locomotion, which you’re changing the tempo at which you’re performing that particular skill. There’s just so many different things that you can do with that. It’s still a pull up, it’s still a chin up, but the thing is it’s how you’re doing it that’s going to completely change up and keep things interesting.

Ryan: There’s so many different things you could do with these basic skills that are still going to improve and get you super strong. Going to look at new flexibility, because for example, the one I just gave you there, holding at 90 degrees, holding at 120, really, it forces you to bring that awareness to what’s going on in your shoulders. Are you shrugging your shoulders or are you keeping them down like they should be? Then what happens is your body is talking to you and helping you to realize that maybe you need to work a little bit more on your flexibility for that.

Ryan: Some other things, squatting. Squatting is a huge one. A lot of people just talk about ass to grass, try to get their squat as low as possible, but about using a different levels for your squat. This is another option, so for example, a video that I put out, I don’t even know when I put it out, but the elevator squat where you basically start standing, and you stop at each floor. Each floor would be a couple inches down. What you’re doing is you’re pausing, it’s very similar to the chin up I mentioned earlier where you hold at certain degrees. It’s the same with the squat, you can perform that.

Ryan: Some other things you can do with the squat, different feet position. Now, I don’t necessarily encourage you to do this if you’re under load, if you’re using a barbell. If you’re doing a body weight squat, please, please try different feet positions when you’re working on your squat. It’s not only going to help you to become more aware of what’s going on in your hips, your knees, and your ankles, but it’s also going to get you stronger in those other positions. That’s also important.

Ryan: Coming back, I always say this in the seminars that I teach, the purpose of the squat, for me, is not to look at being able to squat in one position. It’s to be able to get in and out of that squat from any position. What that means is taking that squat and trying to do it in different ways, different leg positions. For example, you might have your left leg, you squat down, but you bring your left leg forward slightly. You’re still in your squat, but your legs are actually not in the same line. The other thing too, if you could look at a classic squat, if you will, where you have one leg extended to the side, and just holding that. It’s still the squat and I know that’s more of a variation that I was talking about, but really, kind of reframing it and looking at these different positions with your feet, different heights, or whatnot.

Andy: Yeah and these are all just ways to repeat the same thing, but not just do more of it, but to find ways to feel like you’re getting better at it.

Ryan: Yes, yes, yes.

Andy: Find new ways to get better at it. Find different ways to challenge yourself in things. Find different ways to make it interesting. Remind yourself of the value you get out of that. That you are gaining more control over this, more mastery. You’re getting to the point … there’s that quote that amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. We’re not saying that you need to be a professional bear crawler, nobody does. That’s the lames job description on the planet. “I’m a professional mover. I’ve got two guys, and a truck, and some blankets.” That sounds lame to me. That sounds like a really poor way to live, but I also think that you can find things, movements, that are valuable to you, that you do get a benefit from. You don’t have to be a professional, but you can get better and better at them. You can find ways to deepen your mastery of these things that you find are valuable, and that you enjoy. Well, you can train yourself to enjoy them even after they would have gotten boring.

Ryan: Absolutely, and the GMB method, right? That’s what we’re after. That’s why we’re always focusing on the basics. I say always focus on the basics. If you’re in shape, you realize that we have so many other variations, progressions, and things like that, but we always want to come back to those basic and check. That’s where the triple A framework comes in and we assess what’s going on so we can do that. Variations we can use to keep things interesting, that’s also important. We’re really trying to focus on looking at building our capacity to be able to perform these particular movements at a very high level. What that’s going to do is carry over to the other things that we … basically our why. Why are we really doing this? It’s not to do more GMB. It’s not that. It’s for a particular thing.

Ryan: One thing I do want to say about that is that … I bring this up with all of the candidates that are going through the apprenticeship that we have is, when they’re going through, they’re doing so much work. They’re doing the same stuff over, and over, and over, and over. A lot of them want to jump to an advanced version of whatever is going on. Sometimes they do and we have to pull them back. What we do, and we explain for that, is they say, “Well this is just kind of boring,” or, “I’m doing it, I’m not getting anything out of it.”

Ryan: Let’s reframe this. This is what we tell them. Think about what did you learn from what you just did? It can be the bear crawl, it can be a pull up, it can be … it doesn’t matter. It’s talking to a person. Are you aware of what’s going on and what did you learn from that? This can be that exact moment, or it can be the overall session. We like to use it as an overall session rather than just individual movements, because that can be a bit tedious as you’re going through your particular workout. If you look at your session and you say, “All right, what’s one major thing that I learned out of this session?” If you look at it that way, you’ll never have a bad workout again, ever, ever. Even if that workout wasn’t your best workout in the world, that’s fine. What did you learn from it? Where was your awareness when you’re doing that, that helped you to pull that learning out of that session. Do that and you’re never going to have a bad session again.

Ryan: That’s a big one and I still use that a lot. Because this also goes with the handstand, because a lot of people can get frustrated when they’re trying to do something and they can’t do something. Again, that’s another topic and we’ve talked about this before. Reframing the way you look at things, bringing the awareness into that movement, especially the basic movements, and when you’re doing the basic movements, “Okay, what did I learn from this today?” This is why, whenever you come back to the basics, you’re not dropping down a level, you’re actually using this upward spiral which you’re coming into it with a different mindset, your mind is open, you have a better understanding of it, so that you’re able to learn something that you maybe didn’t know about the particular basic movement before.

Andy: Yeah. Also, you know a lot of this is just knowing what’s important to you so you can … maybe it’s okay to be bored with something if it’s your most important exercise and you know that you just need to keep doing that. Maybe the things that are less important, maybe that’s where you can get some more of your variety. Maybe that’s when you can mix things up, if that’s what you really need to do, right?

Ryan: Sorry, I just a DodgeBall thing, “Mixing up the [inaudible 00:49:07], mix it up with some confusion.” I don’t why DodgeBall, that movie just popped into my head when you said that. Sorry. All right, let’s wrap this thing up. Basically, what we’re after is you need to focus on making sure that you’re dedicated to getting in the work. Really that’s what it comes down to. Make each repetition count but do as many repetitions as you can. What I’m talking about is not necessarily in that particular set or things like that, but over the long run. We’re looking at the long run here. The more repetitions that you can perform at a high quality over time, the better you’re going to be. The only way to get anywhere is by practice.

Andy: Yeah and just getting as much practice as you can is it’s obvious, everyone knows this, but getting as much quality practice as you can is the way to get better at something. If it’s really important to you to get better at using your body, and to be able to have control of that, and build that autonomy, and build that ability, and capability to do the things that you want to do, and to have that confidence with you all the time, if that’s what you’re trying to get out of this, then it takes a lot of practice doing these things.

Ryan: Exactly.

Andy: And feeling the control and the feeling the awareness, and the mastery, of those movements.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s really, really good. Bring that awareness to everything that’s going on, it comes back to that. We can kind of leave with this and kind of give you a bonus tip, or say a bonus challenge if you will. You mentioned that you had the friend who would do his 20 pushups every single day.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: That’s what I would like to challenge all of you to do. I want you to find one movement that you’re like, “Yeah, I got this. I own this movement. I can do this no problem at all,” okay? A bear walk might be that movement. I’d like you to do it for just seven days straight though. It doesn’t need to be a month or anything like that. Every single time though that you do it, and I’m talking maybe a minute, maybe two minutes at the most, when you do this every single day. Just think about what is that one thing that you learn from that? That’s it. Once again, choose a movement, it could be the bear walk if you would like. Do that every single day for one to two minutes. Then each day, when you’re finished, say, “Okay, what did I learn?”

Ryan: To give an example, it could be, “Wow, I didn’t really realize how tight my hamsrings were when I was doing this.” Or, “Oh wow, I’m actually turning my hands out when I’m doing this and I didn’t even really realize that before.” Or, “Oh I bend my arms when I bring my hand forward to place it on the ground.” It’s not a bad thing, there’s nothing bad about any of this stuff. It’s simply create awareness into what’s going on in order to learn something new that you hadn’t noticed before [inaudible 00:51:57].

Andy: Absolutely. All right, well get bored folks.

Ryan: Get bored, yeah. New t-shirts. All right. Thanks for listening.

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