Monday, February 8, 2010

A Word on the Importance of Practice and Repetition

So inside of our bodies are muscles. Inside of muscles are muscle spindles. Inside of those are cells. Our cells are constantly moving, it's what helps us heal, function, and basically live. With enhanced microscopes you can even see cells moving like glow in the dark worms.

When muscles contract, the cells move even more, in a frenzy. Uncoordinated and wild. Now the more that muscle contracts in the same manner, the better the cells move. It moves smoother, carries better signals, creates patterns. This is the scientific act of muscle memory. Something trainers and martial artists always throw out but have no idea what it really boils down to. The more you practice something, the more your cells remember, the more they remember the better they perform. Scientists have been trying to figure out ways to make cells move, especially to help with healing. All they have determined thus far though, is the best way to make cells move is through constant repetition.

If I teach you a punch, will you be knocking someone out in a day? No. But maybe after years of practice you will be knocking people out professionally. If I show you how to bench, you won't go from 130 to 250 bench over night. That will take years. You don't grow more muscle fibers, your cells just move better. This is true for all physical and athletic endeavors. I apply this especially in my martial arts training. The repetition of gross movements and common movement pattern.

There is one other thing that practice and repetition does. It creates more myelin around your synapses. That means faster signals from your brain to your body. That means no matter how fast someone is, or how many fast twitch muscles they have or explosive training they do, they will never be able to compensate with someone who can send a signal from their brain faster. Not only that it also remembers efficient movement and takes the slack out of your moves, makes you perform better, faster, with less effort. Be it a golf swing to a judo throw.

Muscle memory combined with nervous system memory creates perfection in human performance. This is another secret that separates the elite from the regular Joe.
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