Extract from The Lean Exec Book (page 40):

SayBefore you go rushing into the gym (or back to the gym) and picking up the heaviest weight you can lift or, alternatively, picking up some light weights and just going through the motions, remember the words of Mr Miyagi, Daniel-san’s sensei in the 1980’s movie, The Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off!” If you don’t know the movie, you can view the clip above.

Why is this relevant? Well, because it highlights the importance of doing the basics first and establishing a foundation.

In the movie, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) wants Mr Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) to teach him karate, so Miyagi gets Daniel to perform boring chores around his house, like waxing cars, sanding the floor, painting the fence/house, etc. Each activity has a specific movement which must be performed accurately – like circular hand motions and precise up and down arm, wrist to hand movements.

Daniel fails to see any connection between the chores and his training. After doing them for some time, he confronts Mr Miyagi in frustration, thinking he’s just being tricked into doing work for him. In response, Mr Miyagi throws out some offensive karate moves and, to Daniel’s surprise, he blocks them using exactly the techniques he was using to wax, sand and paint. Without even realising it, Daniel had developed muscle memory and learned core defensive movements. These basic movements were the groundwork for his karate training.

So, the moral of the story is, take some time to do some groundwork. Not only will it prepare you for advancing your training, it can also give you some base strength (even size) or allow you to regain some base strength that will make starting or getting back into training much more manageable. Also, you don’t have to do your groundwork in the gym. You could do it at home, in your garden, in a park or anywhere you like. So, if you haven’t got your gym subscription yet, why not save yourself a month’s fees and spend the money on some good high-quality food to help with your training instead? If you’ve already got the membership, but haven’t been using it enough, get back in there to make up for those wasted payments!