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The Space between the Notes: Words of Wisdom for Fitness, Work and Life

Multitasking has become so pervasive in our culture that even when people show up at the gym (or at work or everyday relationships), they bring their mental static with them—their minds are all over the place. Instead of focusing on training (or the task at hand or the conversation taking place), they’re thinking about what happened yesterday, planning for the evening ahead or falling prey to any number of unintended distractions.

This state of commotion undermines the benefits you can derive from training, as well as derail other areas of your life. An exchange of these diversions for an enjoyable, effective and efficient way of training is precisely what’s delivered through Focused Intensity Training® (FIT), as I share in Chapter 11 of Strength for Life.

Let’s break it down:
Focus is the concentration of your attention. It’s not necessarily what’s on your mind, but how you hold your attention without distraction. Focus is not only necessary for effective training, but for performance in all areas of life.

Intensity is the concentration of physical energy—the effort put forth at any given moment. Intensity starts with undivided attention; the stronger your focus, the stronger your ability to concentrate energy. Intensity is further amplified by desire, drive, motivation and will.

The Flipside
On one side of the coin, peak focus and intensity in your training are where the action is. But there’s another side of equal importance that is too often ignored and which hinders people’s progress: relaxation and recovery, which I refer to as the “space between the notes.”

One of the most fundamental laws of physics states, “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This holds true in your training; for every peak in focus and intensity, there must be an equal and opposite recovery. Think of the two points as opposite limits of a child’s playground swing. You go higher and higher forward by going further and further back. One end activates and amplifies the other. Makes sense, right?

Jump
As an example, stop reading this for a moment and jump. Jump as high as you can and try to touch the ceiling. I’ll wait.

What steps did you take?

The first thing you did was recoil, right? Think about it: You actually moved away from your goal. You initially brought yourself down toward the ground before you started your ascent. You actually have to go back or down (recover) to go up.

How high would you have jumped if you hadn’t done this? Try jumping again without recoiling. Your vertical leap (peak) was not as high, was it?

As you just experienced, failing to recognize the equally important dimension of full, spacious recovery limits your peak performance. Your body and mind require this depth of recovery, just as you need sleep each night and precious time away from work. Your ability to deeply relax and regenerate yourself mentally and physically has a direct impact on your capacity for peak intensity. One does not happen in the absence of the other.

Like the old saying goes, “The space between the notes creates the music.” It’s not just the high points, but the moments of recovery, that create the harmonious, joyful, flow state of training and life. Otherwise, training would just be noise and not music or, in our example, just another workout full of drudgery.

This process might sound easy on paper, but don’t be discouraged if it’s tough at first. It takes practice to master. Once you do, not only will you have a body and strength that reflect your inner mastery, but the mastery of your mind and focus will be visible in your work, at play, your relationships with family and friends, and all aspects of your life.

Until next week,

Shawn

Watch This: The Space between the Notes

FIT Cycle in Action:
Focus Intensity Training, at its core, is about intentionally creating highly pronounced periods of tightly focused concentration, coupled with high degrees of physical and emotional intensity.

Oscillating with this peak in focus and intensity are deeply pronounced periods of relaxation, characterized by low levels of physical and emotional activation and a broad, open and receptive focus.

FIT dramatically improves performance, results and the level of enjoyment of strength training through fully engaging all of the major faculties instead of just the body.
Applying the FIT principles to our daily work lives greatly improves performance and accelerates results.

This repeats in a rhythmic manner much like the ebbs and flows of life.

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