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Strength: Physical Amnesia, The Order Of Operations, & How Form Follows Function

Strength: Physical Amnesia, The Order Of Operations, & How Form Follows Function

When it comes to the strength and fitness world every coach and trainer has always had that all too familiar conversation with a student or trainee.

Trainee: What exercises should I do for abs?

Me: We’ll get to that..let’s see how well you can squat.

Trainee: How many reps should I do?

Me: Just start and focus on this technique and I’ll tell you when to stop.

Questions, questions, questions. What are we training for?

The Order Of Operations

Now don’t get me wrong…asking a question is fine, but so many people lose sight of the questions that matter, or how to even go about asking the right question to begin with. In relation to physical training over the years this is a phenomenon I’ve coined as Physical Amnesia.

Physical Amnesia is the loss of focus on physical function which is generally replaced with a sole misdirected focus on form. In a very odd way when it comes to physical exercise and the body trainees will try to question every aspect of training that is centered around form instead of directing their focus to the functional aspect of human performance.

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This is the reason questions related to how many reps should be completed, and when are we going to be training abs takes the place of focusing on the quality and mobility aspect of the movement in question. A good coach already knows the answers and the questions that should matter when it comes to training any given individual. If you have a quality coach it’s sort of like having your own personal Carnac The Magnificent!

If you don’t recognize this skit it is a bit that Johnny Carson used to do on the Late Show. The Magnificent Carnac (played by Johnny Carson) would come out representing this genie with mystical powers that would stun the audience by holding a sealed envelope up to his head and citing the answer to a question that was secretly sealed in the respective envelope.

Of course the humor was that the Magnificent Carnac would obviously know the answer while at the same time mystifying audiences (in a humorous way) by also having to know the question that was being asked in the first place. Now obviously this was all a big joke, but when it comes to quality coaches and trainers they should be more like a real life Carnac The Magnificent in terms of knowing the answers to the questions that matter most in your approach to training. The broad answer is that much of this comes from you achieving form from optimal physical function.

Form Follows Function

The point here is that form always follows function…not the other way around. This is the order of operations, but for whatever reason Physical Amnesia seems to take precedence over the pursuit of function with many individuals instead of them learning to master their own body.

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In my opinion this has been one of the major downfalls of the health club industry in terms of failing to teach members the significance of how and why they should emphasize going about mastering movement.

The Takeaway

The point is that there are no magical pills, magical coaches, or magical trainers. The grit and the results come from individuals pinning their ears back and busting their balls day in and day out for serious results. Having an intelligent training plan on top of the steadfast discipline to pursue executing that plan on a consistent basis is the only formula for getting results. This is true in every endeavor in life.

The order of operations is clear. You must learn and build a foundation…and keep pushing to lay each brick one at a time to build something magnificent…just like Carnac!

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so then please don’t be shy about posting up in the comments below. Are you following an intelligent plan that emphasizes the mastery of function to achieve the form you desire most? Stay strong. Be Better. Don’t be a victim.

Related Articles:

Proprioception: Developing Your Sixth Sense And Enhancing Your Physical Intelligence

Resourceful Strength: How To Make Gains With Minimal Equipment 

Quality Coaching: 5 Skills To Look For In A Quality Coach

Ballistic Strength: Sharpening Your Blade And Your Mind

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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. “Trainee: What exercises should I do for abs?
    Me: We’ll get to that..let’s see how well you can squat.”

    Haha wow the number of times people have asked me this! I guess when you first start training you don’t realise how the body works, and what parts are important as well as abs.

    Nice post!

    1. Harry,

      Yes, this is an all too familiar conversation that coaches have with their students at one point or another. You are right, people just don’t understand that once you can master the function of the body that the kinetic chain working in a more efficient manner will yield the aesthetic qualities that people desire the most. It’s an unfortunate obstacle that we have to work at in order to change people’s perception on training. Thanks for the feedback Harry and don’t be a stranger!

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