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Killing Strength: Your Smart Phone Is Killing Your Gains!

Killing Strength: Your Smart Phone Is Killing Your Gains!

If you’ve been following my social media for any length of time you’ve probably noticed that I frequently point out certain distractions that the general public engages in way too much in this day and age. These distractions are specific behaviors that have without a doubt dumbed down the general population and may very well be killing everyone’s gains!

 The Sixth Sense…

Today I want to talk about a sixth sense. Yes you read that correctly…I did say a sixth sense. So I know what you’re thinking, Coach what in the hell do you mean about a sixth sense? Well just have a little patience my young Jedi because I’m going to explain right here in this article.

First of all, have you ever heard of the term proprioceptive awareness? Proprioception or proprioceptive awareness is the ability to know where one’s body is in space. It’s the ability to know where your body is in relation to other people and to other things.

Those individuals that exhibit a good sense of proprioceptive awareness can easily move through an area without having to look and worry about running into other people and objects for this very reason. As you might imagine this is an extremely important skill to possess. For lack of a better description people with good proprioceptive ability can essentially feel their way through a certain environment with confidence in knowing exactly where they are in comparison to everyone else.

Try This Experiment Without Creeping Anyone Out

Here’s a good example of proprioceptive awareness.  Try this little social experiment to test this out. The next time you and your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, friend etc are at the coffee shop or having lunch pick out another table nearby with a group of people. As you’re sitting enjoying your latte hone in on one individual sitting at the other table and just stare at them.

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Yes, you read that right just stare right at them and don’t turn away. Now even if they are turned away from you at an angle, or have their backs to you if you stare long enough they are going to notice. I guarantee either they will turn to look in your direction, or one of their friends will notice. The bottom line is that if they have a decent sense of awareness they will know that they are being watched.

Like I said give it a try, but please don’t be the coffee shop creeper and reference this site for giving you the idea of being that coffee shop creeper should you get caught!

The Problem With Your Smart Phone

Now having explained this what is the deal with the smart phone? You see in today’s world we live in a culture that is jammed full of distractions. Everywhere you look you see people holding their smart phones and small handheld devices up to their face as they text away to their friends even though in many cases the person they are texting is literally standing right in front of them half the time.

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Additionally the distractions of smartphones has escalated to the point that we are literally watching movies and TV on these devices. Who would’ve thought that would ever have happened?

Because of this people like me that have a more heightened proprioceptive sense of awareness get particularly aggravated when walking into the malls during the Christmas holidays. The frustration comes because it always results from being hit by a walking teenage zombie that is too distracted with their smartphone to even know where they are walking. The same can be said for many adults.

Enhanced Proprioceptive Awareness

You see the more we are physically active, the more we are tuned into our environment resulting in having a greater sense of awareness. A good example of the type of person that will have a greater proprioceptive sense would be like a defensive back (DB) in football. Think about a DB having to play defense and cover a wide receiver on the field of play.

The receiver lines up and knows where he is going because he knows the play. He knows his play route, but the DB doesn’t. As a result the DB must backpedal and shift his body from left to right and across the field of play without actually having to turn and look where he is going. The DB can feel his way around the field without running into his teammates or the referees for the most part.

This is one really solid example of a heightened proprioceptive sense of awareness. An even greater level of this can be seen with military service men and women that come back from fighting in war. I promise you that the brave men and women that have been in some hostile regions are very aware of their environment and surroundings.

They are truly in tune with what’s going on around them way more than any average citizen that is distracted from all of the first world problems I just mentioned.  These men and women don’t have to walk around like a zombie with their cell phone stuck in their faces all day.

This ability of proprioception also plays an integral part into enhancing our kinesthetic learning as well. Kinesthetic learning is a where learning takes place with an individual or trainee carrying out physical tasks. The process of learning is enhanced through the act of actually doing stuff. No…texting and checking your Facebook status doesn’t qualify as doing.

The point here is that kinesthetic learning and proprioceptive awareness to me are a measure of what I like to refer to as physical intelligence. In short, the more you are involved with physical tasks and drills that challenge your awareness, reaction time, and focus the greater your physical intelligence will be. One example of a drill that can foster such results would be single arm medicine ball slams.

As a coach I have seen the vast differences in those that posses both high and low levels of physical intelligence and more than anything it can be attributed to lifestyle factors that play a vital role in either enhancing that physical intelligence or dumbing it down.

For those that work outdoors, are physically active, and might even train on a regular basis it’s obvious that these people tend to have a higher physical intelligence. In turn it makes my job at training them to execute more complex movements a lot easier.

Conversely those that have careers and jobs where they are trapped inside a cubicle sitting in front of a computer screen all day tend to have a significantly lower level of physical intelligence. If you can tell I’m basically stating that the dependency and addiction towards technology has significantly dumbed down the physical intelligence of the majority of the population.

Jobs and lifestyles that used to involve being outdoors running farms, tending to land, and building things have been replaced by a cubicle, a desktop, and a smartphone. This is a direct cause of what’s killing our strength and there is no doubt society has suffered. The result is that if your physical intelligence is low then being able to feel your way through certain drills that require hand/eye coordination and reaction time will be a much more difficult task.

In essence a low physical intelligence is an ingredient for killing strength. The question is are you enhancing your physical intelligence, or are you killing your strength gains?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so please feel free to post up in the comment section below with any thoughts or questions. Stay strong and keep training smart.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. This is the first post I’ve read of yours. Interesting read. True story on the smartphone challenge. I don’t imagine the issue if going to get better anytime soon… I think I take my superhuman proprioception for granted sometimes, reading my phone, and walking through crowded streets. It’s a talent… but never in the gym.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Adam! It’s always good to know there are folks like yourself that are more “aware” in public, because I’m frequently finding myself frustrated in public more these days. I’m just glad to not be in that boat alone! Stay strong my friend and please don’t be a stranger. Ha. Thanks again!

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