Ready to get “high” and skyrocket the performance of your body and brain? In my last article, I discussed a new model of performance that stimulates development of the brain right alongside the body. Today, we are going to move from concept to application and talk about how that affects workout structure.

 

Physical performance is measured by the brain's ability to perceive the environment and optimally harness both its and the body's resources to produce maximally efficient patterns of movement. I’ll explain how to apply this concept to your workouts in the three-part template you’ll find below.

 

Train natural movement patterns.

Find your movement flow by challenging your brain.

 

How Natural Is Your Movement?

But before we get to the nitty-gritty details of workout structure, let’s talk about movement pattern selections. The most effective patterns for increasing general human performance are those that are totally unspecialized. Our brains and bodies are fundamentally designed to perceive and overcome endless variations of environmental obstacles, which makes the comprehensive natural movement patterns taught in MovNat’s curriculum the obvious selection.

 

These natural movement patterns include:

 

Manipulative

  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Throwing
  • Catching

 

Locomotive

  • Ground Movement
  • Crawling
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Balancing
  • Jumping
  • Climbing
  • Swimming

 

Combative

  • Striking
  • Grappling

 

MovNat’s natural movements not only have practical value for everyone, but also imply the development of an equalized amount of broad-based perceptual motor skill, functional work capacity, and healthy range of motion. From this authentic and unspecialized pool of diverse movements, we can forge the strongest base of general perceptual motor development (G-PMD) and general physical preparedness (GPP).

 

Workouts designed to progressively develop general physical performance are most effective when broken up into three distinct parts.

 

Part 1: Natural Developmental Sequence (Warm Ups)

 

 

 

The Natural Developmental Sequence (NDS) is nothing short of a goldmine of teaching efficiency. In addition to being a comprehensive, sensory-rich warm up, coaches have plenty of opportunity to discover students’ limiting factors, challenge alignment, and refine patterns of stability and range of motion in fundamental, accessible positions. The NDS usually begins in a prone or supine position, transitions through several seated/quadruped/kneeling variations, and finishes in a standing position, but there are endless iterations to explore while using personal creativity and style.

 

Depending on the level of the student, the NDS can work through basic or advanced positions and transitions. Bolsters are highly encouraged for those with severe movement dysfunctions.

 

Part 2: Emphases (Skill/Strength/Power Development)

 

 

 

The emphases are the patterns that you wish to develop with a specific goal over the course of the mesocycle. Depending on the goal, anywhere from 2-4 patterns can be combined to produce the stimulus and volume required to elicit the desired central and peripheral adaptations.

 

For example, let’s say on days one and three you want to work on improving the strength of your push press and swing-up (climbing) strength. Here’s one option of what the emphases portion of your workout could look like:

 

Day 1

  • Barbell Push Press: 5x5
  • Side Hang to Leg Hook to Sliding Swing-Up: 3/side

 

Day 3

  • Sandbag Clean to Push Press: 5x3
  • Front Hang to Leg Hook to Inverted Row (thick bar): 8/side (row only)

 

In the example video, I show these movements (Day 1) as an intermediate level example, as well as some simpler movement choices suited better for beginner students. I also include some counter-balancing drills for active recovery and additional G-PMD stimulus.

 

This strategy allows you to kill many birds with one stone. You’ll use the volume and intensity required to ensure the body gets the stimulus it needs to adapt at the peripheral neuromuscular level. You’ll also use longer rest periods to keep fatigue low enough to make subtle refinements to the patterns you are trying to improve. The use of environmental complexity (barbell vs. sandbag push press, whole vs. partial swing-up on varied bar thickness) works the patterns with slightly varied loading stimuli, challenging motor control while building up baseline adaptability alongside strength.

 

This portion of the workout sets us up nicely for the final segment.

 

Part 3: Combo (PMD/Conditioning)

 

 

 

I used to despise conditioning. Now, it’s the favorite part of my workouts.

 

The combo is a longer chain of movements with little to no rest in between. Pattern choices can be varied and creative, but the driving force of the combo should be progressively increased environmental complexity to stimulate PMD. While the patterns themselves can be refined and strengthened during the emphases in part two, re-combining movements, practicing transitions between movements, and introducing subtle contextual complexity between trials (rounds) or workouts will actually improve overall retention, which is an indicator of learning.

 

Ultimately, the more the student’s brain is engaged and challenged, the more she or he will generalize their movement skills and become highly adaptable. The conditioning factor is obvious, especially when you include varied distance running intervals.

 

Personally, I get a distinct “high” from combining movement sequences in this fashion. It’s different from the typical cardio buzz, and results in a distinct trance-like state of awareness. I call it the “PMD high.” Others would call it a “flow state.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s something transcendent, and it certainly makes cardiovascular training much more engaging and effective. It also prepares you for the ultimate “purist” experience of training in complex outdoor environments.

 

Train Your Brain Alongside Your Body

This flexible template was created to give MovNat coaches and students the structure they need to best utilize principles of perceptual motor and work capacity development in order to make dramatic improvements in physical competence and performance. The underlying model represents an incredibly powerful shift in our understanding of how to not only set athletes up with a better base for athletic performance, but also most effectively help the great majority who need “movement” the most.

 

In my next article, I’ll show you how to strategically implement training variables (volume, intensity, complexity) over time to forge elite levels of unspecialized movement skill in highly complex environments. Until next time.

 

Click here to read Danny's introduction to this new model of performance.

 

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Photos courtesy of Danny Clark.

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