Friday, August 23, 2019

Constraints for Creative Freedom

The mindset lately seems to be the more the better.  The more we have at our disposal, the more options we see, the better results we will attain.  We think the bigger menu is a better menu.  We are lead to believe the more toys we own, the more satisfied we will be.  Fill the minute.  Variation.  Choices.

Yet, we all know deep down this is a lie.  How many of us actually even try the third thing on the menu let alone the 15th.  How many of us actually get fulfillment from the 20th t-shirt we own.  Take a look in the mirror, if you are training, has it changed in 12 months?  24?  Can you look at a training log and see improvements.  Is variety in your workouts more for mental laziness, because if you did the same workout, it would show lack of improvements.  If I do new stuff every time I workout, it feels like I'm training, but deep down, it's just working out for the sake of working out.

Sure I sweated and maybe I got sore or maybe my heart rate got up there a little, but did I make incremental improvements that can be built on.

Constraints:  A limitation or restriction.

Jocko Willink has a famous quote, "Discipline equals freedom."    I agree, but I also think Constraints equals freedom is just as appropriate.  Constraints give boundaries, they give rules.  Most importantly they inspire creativity.

The first time you ever played any sport, no one really knew what they were doing.  In a game like football, there are hundreds of rules.  The sidelines gave you boundaries.  The line of scrimmage gave a boundary.  It wasn't until you knew the rules without thinking, that you could be aggressive.  You could play with abandon, you could express yourself.  Then the game became fun.  Rules or constraints gave you freedom.

Push your shoulder into extension as far as you can.  The further you go, the more it will start to go sideways.  Now go up against a wall, so there is just enough room for your arm to go backwards.  The wall will give a constraint and guide your shoulder into complete extension.  The wall gave your shoulder constraints so you could express should extension and nothing more.

Often times to gain freedom in one joint, we put other joints under constraints.  Not allowing one joint to move, for instance, keeping you right hip glued to a squat rack can put more force and movement into working your left hip.

Walls.  They give support.  They give constraints.  What could you come up with if you had to come up with 20 exercises that have to have one body part on the wall at all times?

If your heaviest weight was a 25lb plate, what kind of workout could you come up with?

One 35lb Kettlebell and a medium band.

Taking away options, focuses your thoughts.  It allows you to start exploring.  It provides a framework to really create deep work.  If I asked me to tell me what you know, you might get stuck with indecision.  If I asked you to tell me everything you know about cooking eggs, you can immediately start unloading your information.  Constraints bring clarity.

You have 30 min to exercise everyday.  What would you do?  The goal is just to move better and have better body composition.  Can you decide what to do?  What if you were told, you have a 16kg KB and aren't allowed to leave a yoga mat or set the bell down for 30 min.  It would force a myriad of different exercises and would probably do the trick.

The next time you are in a funk, in a plateau, in lack luster workouts, bring in constraints.  Creativity will surely follow.

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