Owning The Basics

Written by LeeAnn Hriniak


April 25, 2022

When wanting to obtain a specific outcome, whether it be slimming down, building muscle, or simply getting healthier, we have a strong tendency to choose one of the many programs we are being sold at the time of yearning. However, the possible reality of your goal is pretty simple, mastering the basics.

While the word itself can sound boring, ‘basic’ is the exact fitness level one should desire to truly master. Adding bells and whistles, fancy names, and specifics to the basics make compliance harder and consistency even more difficult, causing a fit lifestyle to be dang near impossible.

When it comes to basics, there are three categories of focus: Nutrition, Training, and Lifestyle.


Definition: the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

When it comes to keeping it basic, it is easier to think about what we should be ensuring versus what we shouldn’t include. Most diets out there do this backwards with a focus on cutting out.

While we have deeper information for you on things such as macros, to stay very basic you should have the following mastered prior to jumping into deeper content.

  • Water

I’m sure you don’t need to be told that our bodies are mostly made of water, but reminders are important. Think about a pond versus a river. Ponds sit and grow algae, attracting all sorts of bugs while rivers are continuously flowing and filtering through rocks. Which would you rather drink from? Right. Just as so, we should have continual water flow through our bodies, filtering and carrying away any unwanted debris.

Investigate your mastery: Do you carry a water bottle wherever you go? Is water something you drink most often? Do you know how your body feels when it is hydrated and when you really need more water? If you answered yes, it’s likely that this category is a win for you and a place of mastery you have under your belt!

  • Protein

I know I had mentioned that macros are a bit deeper but this one highly deserves mentioning. Protein is the building block for recovery, a staple for muscle and organ health, and keeps us fuller longer. Having the proper amount of daily protein is truly vital for someone who wants to be able to consider themselves fit.

Investigate your mastery: Do you know about how much protein you consume in a day and how much you should based on your fitness level? Do you have a certain go-to snack to help you hit your protein goals? Other than meat, can you name food sources that contain a strong amount of protein? Able to answer? Looks like you have protein on the mind and it’s second nature to you!

  • Fruits & Veggies

I’d be surprised if you didn’t already know this one. Even if you’re brand new to all of this, these two staples help keep things clean and functioning well, offering energy and movement in the organs.

Investigate your mastery: Do you normally have multiple fruit and vegetable options on your grocery list to stock your kitchen with (and not because you threw out the bad ones you didn’t eat)? Are fruits a great grab and go snack for you? Are you aware of how veggies or lack of veggies alters your bowel movements?  I think you get the picture. Mastery of this one is simply having a conscious part of your day.


Definition: developing one’s fitness relating to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance.

When it comes to training basics, it really comes down to mastery of movements. If you have ever trained with us or have seen our programming, you’re guaranteed to witness these basics performed over and over again.

  • Push

Pushing is the act of exerting force on (someone or something), typically with one’s hands, in order to move them away from oneself or the origin of the force. I’d hope your imagination took you into a few real life examples where you could not only use a push, but where it would be necessary.

Push up, bench press, and overhead press can all be categorized as an upper body push. The chest and shoulders will do most of the work here but that isn’t to say the rest of your body doesn’t help.

Mastery of this movement starts with lighter weight, like dumbbells, and proper structure through the entire origin of force. For instance, if you are completing a seated overhead press, your entire body is under control, rather than the weight being able to exert force on you!

Before jumping to a barbell, master dumbbell and bodyweight push work at multiple angles!

  • Pull

Just the opposite of a push, a pull is to exert force (on someone or something) so as to cause movement toward oneself. Upper body pulls include movements like pull ups, pull downs, and all row variations. Your back, in all of its complexity, will be the star here. Once again, I’m sure you can imagine many situations where you could benefit greatly from building strength in pulling.

Mastery of this movement will look similar to results but with lighter or assisted movement. For instance, a seated cable row (regardless of grip) will rest at a lighter weight. Do you actually feel your back? Are you able to have your arms, back and entire body work together for the movement?

  • Hinge

Now is a time to bring up back safety. If you have ever suffered back or spine pain, it was likely due to not being able to hip hinge properly. A proper hip hinge will utilize the entire back of your body (posterior chain). The movement happens at the joining of the lower and upper body.

While the deadlift is technically a lower body pull, it deserves its own category here as a hinge. In order to master it, starting light while developing the ability to keep the upper body as one and the lower body as another while only moving the joint in which they are connected. A true deadlift is a bit more complicated than this, however, success comes from this vital part.

RDLs, kettlebell swings, and the increasingly popular hip thrust are all also in this category of a hinge.

  • Squat

Along with lunges, squats are technically a lower body push. Due to their specificity, they too deserve their own highlight here. It is performed with a bend in both the hip and knee at the same time, compared to just the hips hinging as we discussed above.

Are you able to perform a bodyweight squat and lunge while stabilizing your whole body? Are you able to pause with full engagement at any point of the movement and then continue on with force to complete it?

  • Carry

Seems simple right? But working on your ability to perform this correctly is actually more important than originally thought. While you might think you carry with your hands and arms, it is actually performed safely and with heavy load when you use your entire body.

Are your back, core, and legs activated and helping you bear the load? Are you aware of what part of your body is weakest when carrying an object?

Movement mastery in training comes down to your neurological and physiological communication ability. And it surely does take time. Think about each of your muscles being a member on a team that you run. How easy is it to get all of them to work perfectly together to accomplish a goal? If you’ve ever actually been a manager or lead a group project, you know this is no easy feat.


Regardless of the specific fit results you desire, there is no doubting the need for some behaviors as well. These behaviors and focuses on how we live will not only set us up for initial success, but also keep us moving in the proper direction rather than starting over… again.

  • Overall Movement

Referring back to our water example, we know that movement leads to a cleaner and more tasteful result. We can’t undo 12 hours of sitting with a 45 minute workout. It must be more than that, in smaller, seemingly insignificant ways.

Obtaining the proper amount of overall movement your body craves can help you reach your goals, aid in digestion and other organ operations, and you’ll even sleep better!

Do you track your steps and have a daily goal to reach? Do you take the stairs? Are you okay with parking a bit further away? Does your body communicate the effects of your inactivity to you?

  • Rest & Recovery

As much as we want to train, we need to recover. The only training session that ever got results was the one recovered from. Rest and recovery can include sleep, yoga, meditation, time with friends, and anything that is fun and makes you feel refreshed!

Do you have a proper warm up and cool down regime for your training days? Do you have built in rest days? Do you have a list of go to activities that help you relax? Do you know when your body is telling you you need a rest day? Do you have a bed time that you stick to?

  • Planning & Preparation

This one might be the cherry on top that brings this entire article together. Maybe a bit cliche, but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Many of our clients have a career, even students, where planning and preparation are an aspect of what they do. Bringing this skill to your eating, training, and lifestyle will prove to be easier and lead towards lasting success. Plus, it beats being reactive any day of the week.

Are you ready for the next day? Meaning, you know what training you’re doing and when you’re doing it. Even if not exactly, you roughly know what and when you’ll be eating. And you have a general or specific sense for when you will wake up, go on a walk, and get ready for bed.

If something is mastered, it’s actually pretty easy. It takes less time and effort to perform and comes as second nature to you. If being fit is something you truly want to obtain, this is where to start. These are the foundations of it all, day in and day out, accomplishing each of these in their appropriate fashions will be the guiding force for results.

If you find that you haven’t mastered many of these, work on just one at a time. When that one becomes easy to do without much effort, add on the next. Structure through the basics breeds continual progress.

If you need help in any of these categories or are ready for the next level, contact us today to work with one of our coaches who has not only mastered all of this themselves, but have helped many clients do so as well.

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