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From the General to the Specific – How to get good at absolutely anything.

27/06/2010

So you want to get good at something?  It could be getting good at your sport, your diet, your job, your relationship or your school subject.

But there are good and bad ways to go about this.  One of the best ways is to work from the general to the specific.

This means you spend time getting the fundamental, foundation principles right before worrying about the minute details.  Get good at the general stuff first, then move on to the specifics.  For example:

  • In the gym, make sure you have all-over, full-bodied, balanced strength and the ability to move correctly.  Have this before you start over analysing how many reps of bicep curls and tricep kickbacks you should be doing, or god forbid, which muscle head you are “hitting”!
  • In Karate, make sure you can move forwards and backwards without tripping over yourself, and you can actually hit a target without busting your wrists/elbows/shoulders.  Then start worrying about your flying kicks.
  • In your diet, make sure you are consistently eating the right things in the right amounts, before shelling out for diet pills/protein powders.
  • If you want to be a brain surgeon, you got to spend years of hard graft on the wards before you go poking around a skull with a scalpel.

The important thing to remember is:

“Don’t try to run before you can walk”

And don’t over analyse and worry about the minute details, and end up missing the obvious.

“Don’t miss the woods for the trees”.

Examples of the general to the specific for the 3 main reasons people do exercise are:

  • Getting Fitter – Make sure you can last at least 10 minutes at a steady pace before you even think about heart rates or being in the “fat burning zone” (the most pathetic programme on any cv machine!)
  • Getting Stronger – Make sure you are consistent and competent in full range, compound (multi-joint) moves such as standing shoulder press, pressups, rows, squats, lunges and deadlifts.  Before this, any small, isolation (single joint) moves such as curls, kickbacks or flies should be done last and take up no more than 5 minutes.
  • Losing Fat – make sure that at least half of every main meal is colourful vegetables, and the other half should not be processed or man-made food.  Only after you are consistently doing this should you start thinking about meal frequency or timing or any pills/potions.
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