The Magic Potion For Rapid Progress.

I love magic stuff in sports/fitness. You do too, right? Where you stumble upon a life hack, or a new shiny exercise thingymahbobby which is totes promising to take you to the next level.



There's a problem with all of that cool stuff though.


It's mostly bullshit. Mostly.


I'd never say you shouldn't keep your eyes peeled for clever, rare little game changers. I'd always say you should not allow your progress be predicated on clever, rare little game changers. Mainly because, well. They're rare.



Since it doesn't happen very often, it stands to reason we probably won't make a lot of progress over time. To make sure we're all clear on the definition, here's some other stuff which is rare -


  • Breaking two house bricks

  • Jump 540 kicks

  • Steak

  • North Korean Demo Team Spots

  • High fives from me

  • Unicorn droppings

  • Sparring World titles


You see what I'm getting at by now, surely.



You need to do the work you're avoiding. Or maybe you don't realise it.


A fantastic segue into revealing to you wonderful readers, what the aforementioned magic potion for your goals is. Admit it, you want it be some special thing you've not yet discovered ;-) It's the main reason you clicked on this post right?


Here it is, it's specificity.


Boom. Mic drop.


Speaking of mic drops...




Let's discuss specificity.


If you haven't begrudgingly clicked off because I didn't say it was Unicorn breath which is going to unlock your high side kicks, or Sasquatch fart mixed with Myrrh which is going to unlock your jumping power - Kudos.


I'm not at all sorry to say it's the boring, arduous work. The work you hate doing which is really going to move the needle. Maybe it's addressing your dietary practices in order to reduce pressure on the knees* and facilitate higher and safer jumps? Maybe it's doing the resistance training on your back muscles in order to rectify chronic shoulder pain/impingment?


*Did you know that for every pound of bodyweight lost, 4 pounds of pressure is reduced through the knee? Think about that next time you want to do a jump spin kick landing on one leg.


Whatever it is someone is faffing around with, I've seen it a bazillion times with practitioners who need to attain a specific goal, messing about with everything but the very thing they need to address.


The scenario and mental dialogue below is probably reasonably close to what goes down. I'll use hip strength & leg control as an example. A topic I wrote about more extensively here.



Goal = Hold out higher kicks. Why = Pattern/breaking requirements. Solution = Hip Flexibility & Strength.


"Ugh god, I hate leg strength work, it kills. Stretching is ok though."


*Fast forward 6-12 months*


Flexibility = Very good, more than enough. Hip Strength = Sucks donkey balls.


"Ah it's still not working. Ok I'll try harder."


*Stretches for another 6-12 months*


"Ah, i still can't hold it out. I guess I just suck."




It's like magic, if one specifically needs to improve hip strength in order to control their passive range of motion, one needs to work specifically on hip strength. It's the same magic which prevails when learning to juggle. Nobody developed their juggling skills by arm wrestling grizzly bears.


No, they juggled.



There's no hack, bypass or shortcut.


It's very easy to ask a question, say - How do I accomplish better jump height? - To be given an answer you really didn't want to hear. Subsequently trying to find any other way to accomplish the goal other than what you were advised. It happens more often than it doesn't.


When you are imbued with wisdom by those who have successfully accomplished what you yearn to achieve yourself, you should receive said wisdom with the enthusiasm and affirmation of a young Chinese monk.



That kind of affirmation and perseverance in a student is every instructor/coaches dream.



Other stuff to consider


I only used kick height as an example. It could be maximum jump height. It could be ACL Injury Rehab (That work sucks so much.) It could be single leg lateral power and stability to improve shifting speeds. It could be beating your gran in an arm wrestling match....


Obviously, such a narrow example cannot possibly encompass the myriad of other obstacles which can get in peoples way. Even if they know what they need to do.



  • Iron deficiency can make building muscle damn hard.

  • Thyroid issues.

  • Previous Injury.

  • Cam/Pincer Deformities of the hip joint.

  • Generally being lame.

  • Technique is wrong.

  • Muscular time under tension is out.


I'm not talking about these individuals today. I'm talking about those who need that gentle (hard af) kick up the ass to stop messing about and do the work they really ought to do. Or rather appreciate the value in specificity.


Specific goal = specific action = specific outcome.


It's like magic.

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