Few books have changed my perspective on training like Gray Cook’s book Movement. In it he does a masterful job of explaining how to use movement priniciples to guide your training instead of relying on specific methods and rigid, formulaic programs.

Move well first and then move often – you can’t do it the other way around

In it he also has some very profound insights that really explain the essence of what it takes to improve.

For example, how about this one…

Isolated normalcy has little realistic implications.

What this means is that any measurement taken in isolation of the whole is extremely limited. In the book Gray is using it to describe the traps set by the current reductionist mindset used in training and rehab.

For example, knowing that the ankle joint has adequate range of motion and strength after an injury means little unless you also know how that same ankle works with all the other joints in the body to create movement.

How many people have been cleared from ankle rehab but still walk with a limp? The isolated normalcy of the ankle means little unless the reality of how it actually works is taken into account.

There are countless examples of this in training as well. Isolating specific training components like cardio and strength has lead to training programs that overemphasize certain things while minimizing or forgetting others.

Always focusing on cardio without also working on mobility and maximal strength is that thought process in action.

Not recognizing that there are times that building maximal strength or mobility will actually be more important than simply concentrating on things that will let you score higher on a VO2Max or other cardio test is the pitfall of the isolationist mindset.

Everything works together and can not be viewed by itself. Ankle joints affect shoulder joints, strength levels affect cardio capacity, mobility levels affect skills proficiency and the list goes on and on.

Being able to look above the ground level and see things from a global perspective should be your goal.

Besides that insight into Isolated Normalcy there are two more gems I’d like to share with you.

The first is “specificity and special interests kill objectivity and logic”. This is a great way to sum up any debate about what specifically is “better” in riding and training.

In mountain biking its clipless vs. flats, base miles vs. intervals, 26 vs. 29 inch wheels, single speeds vs. geared bikes, 9 speed vs. 10 speed or dozens of other things.

At the end of the day everything is “better” and nothing is “better”; it is up to you to keep some perspective and logic as part of your decision making process.

The second thing he wrote about that really spoke to me was the difference between “difficult” and “challenging”. Difficult just means that something is hard to complete while challenging infers that you are just at the edge of your abilities.

In other words, you survive difficult tasks while you learn something from challenging tasks.

Too often we seek difficult and get good at surviving things but not really progressing much overall. Feeling like you’re working hard and actually learning something from your training sessions are two different things.

Seek challenging first and it will become difficult as you master the exercise or drill; you can’t go right to difficult and expect mastery to happen.

As you can see, the principles and thought process I have towards training has a much different influence that some of the more popular “go hard or go home”/ cardio is king mindsets on training.

Move well first and then move often – you can’t do it the other way around (another line from the book I’m going to rip off).

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic I’d love to hear them, just post a comment below this post. And if you liked this article please click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word…

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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