Dec 13, 2012

It's a shame we can't learn more about exercise from watching kids play. They don't worry about sets and reps, perfect form, the perfect program, or having to drag themselves into the gym after a long day of work. They just go out and have fun.

There's a lot to be said there. Even though kids don't have any of the responsibilities that we do as adults (mortgages, rent, water bills, work, car insurance, putting food on the table), they have one thing we should all be envious of - that sense of "play".

Now I'm not talking about kids these days who sit in front of their computers and interact through a webcam or spend all day playing video games and eating junk food. I'm talking about the good old days when your curfew was when the street lights came on. When there was never a vacant playground. When if there weren't any footballs, basketballs, or baseballs to play with there was a game of man hunt going on. When jumping fences, swinging from monkey bars, and running over, under, and through anything was the norm.

This was REAL playing. So what can we learn from this?

1. Stop Worrying About the Perfect Program

There is no perfect program. Things are not always going to go your way and you're not always going to be able to follow your program from start to finish without missing a day or having to rearrange things a bit. It happens. This is real life so don't preoccupy yourself with specifics.

I definitely want you to make yourself a plan but be flexible. I remember there were times when I was a kid and we would play wiffleball in front of my neighbors house. We only had 2 or 3 wiffleballs and if any of them broke or got caught in a tree or on a roof we didn't sweat it. It was on to the next game. So be flexible and if you can't do the exact workout you set out to do, make something up and just go by feel. Just do work.

2. Find Yourself A Training Partner

I don't think there was ever a time I went outside to play and was alone for more than 10 minutes. It was like the other neighborhood kids had telepathy and just knew I was outside. So get yourself a training partner. One condition though - no slackers. You don't want to be stuck with THAT GUY who is lazy as hell and doesn't even push themselves. How are they going to push you? Find some one who can give you some healthy competition. This will skyrocket your training.

3. Train Like A Child

Monotony sucks in any way, shape, or form, whether you're talking about training or life in general. Make sure you're not just using conventional equipment or conventional movements. Try adding in a few "play" exercises. Think about how kids move when they're on the playground. They crawl, climb, jump, run, and all around just have fun. This should be an INTEGRAL PART of your training. Moving like a child isn't just for children. Here's a short list of my favorite "play" exercises that will help you build more strength, agility, and athleticism:

  • Animal Crawls (bear crawls, crab walks, alligator crawls, gorilla runs)
  • Jumps (over an object, onto an object, off an object, for distance)
  • Gymnastics (monkey bars, bar swings, skin the cat, handstands)
  • Tumbling (cartwheels, forward/backward rolls, handsprings, flips)
  • Running (short sprints, long sprints, hills)

Here's a short vid of myself during a "play" session doing some tumbling:

The next time you're confused on what to do in the gym, try to stop thinking like an adult and start thinking like a kid. Have some fun and train like a child!!

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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