You’ve probably heard the saying before “practice makes perfect”. Your coach has certainly told you this if you’ve ever played any sports. Most certainly your parents told you this if they’ve ever encouraged you to play sports growing up. And your teachers definitely told you this, which is why they gave you homework in the first place: To practice. But what if you’re practicing in the wrong direction? This is where I’m putting my own little spin on the “practice makes perfect” phrase to “Practices makes PERMANENT”.
“Practice makes perfect” is only if you’ve been practicing with perfect form and movement of the body. Your body doesn’t understand the different stimulus you impose on it from lifting a barbell, to lifting a stone, or going for a run. It merely puts into action the muscles that which you demand for it for any given sport. When this fails, injuries pop up and you’re out of commission from training or playing your sport.
The result of injuries is often the cause of practicing in the wrong direction. As a result, you have unconscious bad habits that you don’t even realize are there until someone expresses them to you. For example, someone who sits at work all day usually has a hunched back and tight hips along with anterior pelvic tilt and a bunch of other problems. This happens because his body has practiced the movement of sitting and has now made permanent that position. It’s the most comfortable position his body has found allowing for the best possible chance of replicating it over and over again.
How does this happen?
In every muscle fiber in the human body there is what’s known as “muscle memory”. The technical term for this is myofibril which is one single cell muscle fiber in your body. This connects (as all muscles do) to your spine, and finally your brain to complete the Central Nervous System. Through repetition, or practice, your mind and muscle fibers remember the motor coordination used to properly complete the task. Those who have spent 10+ years training in the gym or at a pro level sport have higher levels of motor coordination and muscle memory simply through the repetitive task of practice. The best example I can think of is Mike Tyson. He was able to get back into training so quickly and look in excellent shape than he has in years. He had a greater amount of muscle memory than the average person. The longer you train, the longer it is to lose your muscles because you have a greater amount of muscle memory attached to your mind and body.
“Practices makes perfect” is only true if you’ve been practicing with perfect form at every step of the way.
But what if you haven’t? I’ve talked about muscle memory, so let’s talk more psychological practice from a coach to a trainee. If you’re a novice to lifting you’ll probably lack guidance to set you on the proper direction. I’ve been there, and it shows when your training is all over the place and no results are appearing. You’ll also have a higher tendency to injure yourself. You’ll keep training and practice with bad habits and eventually something will either break or get torn. This has happened a few times for myself when I’ve either had shoulder or hip pain from the lack of coordination in my movement. I asked other people more competent than myself to guide me on the proper direction, and it worked! When very new trainees’ practice, they go right for the barbell. No extra exercises, and nothing to offset their imbalances. And there will be imbalances. Under the proper guidance of someone else, they will add useful and necessary exercises to aid in fixing those imbalances along with making your barbell lofts stronger and safer. From my personal experience, I’ve seen too many people blow out their back during Deadlifts because they had weak glutes.
Why is Practice so Important?
“Practice makes permanent” as we’ve seen with muscle memory above. Your muscle fibers are saved to the hard drive disk that is your Central Nervous System. “Practice makes permanent” by helping you perfect a difficult lift whether they be Olympic Weightlifting exercises to the Big 3 or even simply Bicep Curls. To practice continually over the course of years will allow you to make the proper form necessary to perform the lift and make it permanent to you. Every trainee has the potential to perform the lift, but there may be small tweaks necessary to that trainee or athlete. These involve different leverages and torque arms necessary to complete the lift with minimal injury and pain. Not only that but practicing with the intent on making the lift permanent allows for a greater chance of preventing injury. The more you do the exercise with a controllable weight, the more your muscle memory will increase and allow for a great chance of success to reduce injuries and hit PRs. Practicing over the course of years maximizes natural growth of your body. Understand this: most guys you see on fitness magazines have hit their genetic potential or are on some sort of juice to enhance their performance and looks. They’re taking a booster because they’ve already hit the maximum size and strength they can attain naturally. They want something more, and that can only come from enhancing your body.
So, if you’re untrained and just starting out in the gym DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED. You’re just starting, and if you’ve been following my line of thinking you’ll understand that you have a lower muscle memory to your body. You’ve barely touched the potential storage at which your hard drive can handle. There is so much more for you to learn and know that only time will allow you to reach that potential.
How to Make Practice Permanent
Making practice permanent comes from more practice, obviously. But more practice in the right direction. You can position yourself in the right direction by watching videos on Youtube of guys with proper technique. I recommend videos from Athlean-X, Alan Thrall, Omar Isuf, AlphaDestiny, Squat University, Dr. Steven Horwitz for example. These guys will help you nail your form along with putting you in the proper mindset to lifting heavy without injury. Another great tool to use is your camera app. Recording videos of yourself to analyze and even send to competent coaches will accelerate your progress feedback in comparison to typing out a long paragraph and hoping the coach will understand. A couple sentences for cuing or a specific problem is helpful, but a novel length explanation is just diminishing results.
Finally, you can hire a competent coach such as myself. I’m opening my coaching program to a select few gentlemen and women who want to work with me to achieve their fitness goals of nailing a specific lift, hitting a weight goal, or even wanting a program tailored to their needs and goals that they can follow.
If this sounds like you, then fill out this application and we’ll get started as soon as possible.
Thank you for reading.