Chapter One – The Core

      “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”
            – Winston Churchill

CORE
BELIEFS/ BODY/ EXERCISES

“Thirty Spokes Surround The Hub:
In Their Nothingness
Consists The Carriage’s Effectiveness”

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THE CORE IS THE FOUNDATION

In every sport, any exercise discipline, every form of learning, there is a core of knowledge that must be known before you can move on to the next level.

Our “spokes” are the arms, legs and head attached to the torso. Our appendages are extensions of the powers we emanate from the heart, mind and body centers. It’s the spaces in between – the range of motion, movement, reach, stride, strength and grasp – that allow us to use our abilities to their highest benefit.

The “hub” is your core, your center of being.  The important organs reside here.  It is where you began and where you live or die.  The heart, the stomach and the back are primary targets for injury and disease. Strength, stability, flexibility and explosiveness emanate from here. All forms of training have their basis and foundation in this core. When the core is strong, every other direction taken is strengthened proportionately.  If one were to train just the outer spokes, the lopsided focus not only makes the center weaker, but each other subsequent direction more prone to accident or injury.

The “nothingness,” therefore, can constitute rest, contemplation, visualization, feedback, non-doing, awareness and “nothingness.” You push, you glide. This is the nothingness within the hub’s “core.” Utilize this “space” to grow mentally as well as physically.

The “effectiveness” of your training comes from working on your weaknesses, not your strengths. You want as few weaknesses as possible. You want to be balanced, fast, flexible, durable, strong and intuitive in every aspect. There will always be at least one dominant characteristic that stands out. Use that characteristic as inspiration to bring each other aspect up to par with that particular strength.

As energy emanates from the hub to the spokes, the spaces between compensate with proper responses. A well-rounded repertoire of training assures all aspects will act and react in correct proportion to the stress. The more well-trained the mind and body are, the more automatic the response. The “effectiveness” of the “carriage” is the result of efficient movement paired with automatic response emanating from a stable yet flexible base.

This Core Foundation is the initial building block that the rest of all training must be built upon. It is the stabilizing, beneath-the-surface, unseen aspect of physicality that transfers and distributes the opposing forces of gravity and inertia against the body into fluid movements which carry the body, and in return allow the body to utilize its own locomotion and force in its synchronistic dance of energy and movement.

The remaining ingredient is the spirit you bring to life to carry you toward your destination. Spirit is energy, it is attitude, it is intention, it is focus, it is discipline. It is knowing that somehow, some way, you will achieve what you’ve set out to receive. It is incorporating this foundational trine of Belief, Body and Exercises into any desire to rise above the average in competition or everyday better health.

THE C.O.R.E. IS
C ONSISTENT – You must participate, practice, and apply techniques regularly over a given amount of time.

O RGANIZED – With your plan in hand, your time is organized, and more gets done in less time, with measurable feedback.

R EHEARSAL OF  – Practice until the movement becomes rote. To rehearse is to do over and over until both the mind and body respond automatically.

E XERCISES – Everything from the brain to the brawn must be conditioned. Exercise prepares the body to respond to certain stresses with force, flexibility, reaction and endurance.

                                                                    THE CORE IS:
THE HEART – This is where it all starts. If you’re healthy here, everything will follow accordingly. If this suffers, so too will you until it’s properly trained.
THE STOMACH – The stabilizing force where your body turns from side to    side, bends up and down, pushes, pulls and exerts force to the legs and arms.
THE LOWER BACK – This is the opposing stabilizer to the stomach that must deal with momentum, inertia, counter-balance and forward movement, as well as supporting the body in its upright position.
THE HIPS – Aid in turning the body, exerting force to change direction, absorbing shock, and stabilizing.
THE MUSCLES TYING THE FRONT TO THE BACK OF THE BODY – This group – the serratus, intercostals and obliques – run through the center of the body and across the shoulders, tying the chest and stomach to the back and hips, creating a serape or cloak effect. These work together in forward, backward and lateral movements.

THE CORE BELIEFS

The Core Beliefs are where your goals, plans, visualizations, discipline, faith, feedback and truth come from.  They’re an intrinsic driving force that constantly tells you and you alone what you can or cannot do.
The Core Beliefs will either help you attain your goals, or keep you from them.  If you have a lifelong wish to complete a marathon, do you believe you have the time to put in the necessary training to simply finish the race?  Do you believe you can prepare yourself in the amount of time between now and the competition?  Do you believe you are physically able to run the marathon?  Do you believe you have the knowledge or access to it, to enable you to prepare properly and safely?  Does your core belief really feel this is something you want to go through on a personal level, a competitive level, a participant level, or an idealistic level?  Do you believe you’re already capable of the race?  Do you recognize if you’re not?

The belief system must be as equally ready to perform the function as the body. Your belief must be strong enough to push through the low spots, the troubled areas, the stick-points, and the humility of admitting where help or work is needed. Your beliefs must be in order and ready to accept the tasks to fulfill the final goal.

If you believe you’ll lose weight, gain strength, consistently keep at it for X number of days and utilize as many areas of your life to achieve those goals, then you will achieve them. If you have doubts, they’ll become huge balloons that you won’t see past. They’ll follow and haunt you because you’ll see doubt instead of faith, you’ll follow the easier route toward weakness than the challenging road toward strength. Core Beliefs keep you on the Success Path, despite the visibility.

At your Belief Core, you must find some positive light to consistently look toward every day, in the direction of health and fitness. There is no other way. Half-hearted convictions produce half-hearted achievements.

People tend to disagree with this intensity of effort being necessary at every workout, every day. But by being present in every moment, in relaxed attention, the automatic response takes precedence and spontaneity reigns by allowing the body to be comfortable at work, at play, at exercise and at relaxation.

If you train the mind to believe in exercise, to believe in yourself, to believe in the goodness of being attentive in activity and nutrition, the physical will follow, and will lead the body toward better health. You must shape your mind in order to shape your body.  Get your thinking in alignment with your beliefs and goals.

To fully invest in a training program, the change must first come in attitude toward exercise.  Once your mind begins to believe that exercise is essential, not a task or a curse, but a privilege, then you move into a positive training mode.

As your thoughts take shape, the pace in which you can attain goals accelerates.  Do you choose to not set any and go down the lazy river of exercise through the motions of redundant boredom without getting anywhere? Or do you choose to work toward them in focused effort, with “hard work, one hour, each day,” until the goals are met?

The belief system you build toward physical fitness will guide you through each workout.  You will either exercise this day at this time – or you won’t. When you decide that exercise is just as essential for life as food and sleep, your beliefs have a starting point.  Do something physically active every single day for 11 days. Consciously think of what you’re doing and how you’re achieving this first goal. But BELIEVE you will follow through for 11 days and then DO IT! Exercise your belief system to rise up to excellence.  Exercise your mind with visualization, mental rehearsal, positive input and feedback.

THE BODY CORE

The Body Core are the parts and the abilities given you at birth and developed through years of various sports and activities, or inactivity. What is your body’s condition?  Where would you like it to be?  Elite athletes can look in the mirror every day and see areas for improvement with complete humility.  Why then, can’t a man with many numbered weaknesses see something he’d like to move toward in a positive light on a daily basis until it’s accomplished?

The Body Core is primarily the heart, the abdominals, the middle and lower back, hip flexors, gluteus and upper legs, front and back. It is your power source, your energy source, your center of gravity, your stabilizing and acceleration system and the storehouse for vital organs. People strong in the core have good posture, few injuries in the lower back and hamstrings, better digestion and greater capability to generate force to the arms and legs.

The very absolute center and most essential aspect of the Body Core is the heart. If you train it both literally and figuratively, you will achieve or gain any goal you set out toward. The stronger you train aerobically, to pump more blood into and from the heart in its most efficient method of transport, the better off your whole system will become.

From the heart, the stomach and organs support, stabilize and respirate the body. The legs, hips and gluteus engage the lower body to propel it into motion in any direction. The arms help to accelerate this directional energy and are enlisted in catching, carrying, reaching, holding, strength, speed and stride. They are powered by the core to deliver explosive energy in many combinations of movement.

By starting with the heart, the core responds with energy emanated from the hub to the extremities, delivering the necessary force, strength and balance to accomplish the activity put before it. The more this Consistent Organized Rehearsal of Exercises is practiced, the sharper and more natural the response. You mentally create what you would like to do with the physical body you have. Is it to run faster, run longer, play sports, build strength, alleviate pain, or change the shape, symmetry and composition of your body? What can you begin to think of as an initial compass point to give you a radius of training?

What does the sport you participate in require? Does it require bulk, speed, flexibility, fast hands, or fast feet? What combinations of attributes will help you not just to participate, but to compete at a higher level of play? As you make this mental assessment, you begin to formulate physical goals.

If it is better health in general that you seek, how strongly do you feel about improving your health wholeheartedly?  Do you plan to do just some things and not others, thereby getting just some results and not all?  Or will you do all you can to feel better? Believe, simply, that you can do some sort of exercise each day, that you’ll implement better nutritional choices daily, and that you will do it for the rest of your life. You will feel the results in clarity, energy, attitude and sleep. You’ll be eager to share these new feelings with others and want to learn more to expand the feelings of goodness and health.

Training the Body Core strengthens the extremities as well as the core; training only the extremities weakens the core and adds insult to injury by way of disproportionate development, overtraining and weak links. If all you do is train the body center, the rest of the body will be strong enough to carry you through. When you incorporate exercises that train the Body Core and Core Beliefs, you synchronistically join all aspects of your being into the task at hand.

THE CORE EXERCISES

The Core Exercises are the third aspect of the total core. They are the basis of what you must do as the minimum requirements to compete in your sport. You can learn, apply, and try various methods and movements, but if you concentrate on compound movements which work across multiple joints and muscle groups, you’ll be stronger on many planes.  The more universally you apply this simple method over the whole body, the better and sooner will be the results, all over your body. The input is equal to the output.

The exercises work best when they follow a specific pattern of training, over an optimum number of weeks, until results taper off.  A strictly structured plan without deviation is unproductive and boring.  Variety within guidelines keeps you in tune with your body’s growing ability to do more, more efficiently, faster, and with less pain.

Our training toolbox is enhanced by familiarity and use.  The more we draw from practiced methods on a regular basis, the more apt we are to have each at our disposal, and the discretion to know when to use each one. From the basic fundamentals come the aspects of practice which lead to mastery. No one goes straight to mastery. Therefore, the body must first find its anchor in the core and grow outwardly from there. We each have the same tools to participate in sport and in life. It’s what we choose to do with the time and space between that makes the short man the professional basketball player or the one-legged woman an Olympic skier.

From the core group of exercises are the stems into individualized sports.  Golfers think the sport alone is enough for exercise.  If it means they golf or do nothing, then of course, golf is enough. But not really, they will not improve their game until they do more in preparation for it.  Just think if Olympic skiers only ran the course, time after time.  The ones who go over and above with their training preparations are always the ones who win.  Always. They invent their own ways of getting the highest performance out of their bodies, and time after time, they get it.  Going that extra mile means believing something more than your opponents and peers.

Often, the young athlete trains with intensity and passion on the wrong areas, the “show Muscles.”  They train the arms and chest and sometimes abdominals for the sake of aesthetics, without considering how these muscles work in relation to their sports.  There are some who train arms and chest for years on end whose net results are too often torn shoulders and bad backs. The adage, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” is especially true in strength training. Constant favoring of muscle groups and exercises leads to great imbalances and eventually, injury.

After this Core discipline is learned, there will be other things to focus on and to master, and your life will continue on an upward arc rather than a downward spiral. Resolve that it should never be “done.” If you learn all the basics of core training, making good movements and good techniques become your habits, you will be able to design a program for any sport you choose.

The exercises are comprised of basic standing and mat exercises that can be completed anywhere, and a series of stretches that should be done in order to awaken the muscles to exercise.

These core movements should be done daily, before or after a workout, and even without a workout, just done alone. The stretches and the exercises are a very good opportunity to tune in to your limitations. Don’t skip any part of them but instead keep trying to perform them better, with greater stability and focus.

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