The Fundamentals

When it comes to training for an event, or anything to do with health and fitness, one of the most common problems I see is confusion. Much of this comes from the sheer amount of conflicting information we are bombarded with, particularly on social media. But there is also an element of searching for what is “sexy” and “exciting”.

When someone asks “how can I achieve at X?”, whether X means being stronger, faster, fitter or anything health related, the answer I always give is that it’s critical to understand the fundamentals first.

A perfect example of this comes from a video clip I remember watching in which a world champion strongman was answering questions from a crowd of fans. Each time someone raised their hand it was to ask about how a specific detail would help them improve:

“What is the best time to consume amino acids?”

“Is 20 grams of protein in each meal optimal, or should it be 30?”

“Is the back squat better or the front squat?”

As the session progressed you could see this world class athlete getting tired of trying to make a point that seemed to be lost on his audience. Each time he was asked a question like the ones above he explained the same thing.

Those things are important only when you have worked hard at the core of what is needed to become a competitive strongman: Lift heavy weights using big compound movements, eat until you cannot eat anymore and then eat even more, and sleep 10 hours a night.

Do this day in, day out until you are 3x the size you are currently at and 5x as strong. Then and only then should you worry about fine tuning the machine you have built.

The experts in any field can do some incredible things that the beginner cannot. But the real difference between a pro and a novice is that the expert is much better, efficient and effective at the basic tasks that are fundamental to their skill-set.

In the world of Special Forces, everyone knows that each man is there because he is exceptionally good at the basics. Skills like navigation, shooting, self-administration, fitness, and teamwork. All things that can be practiced and developed.

There are two types of people who try to pass selection. Those that look at the “sexy” things: Jumping out of planes, trips abroad, the best kit, long hair and beards! And those who understand that in reality it is about suffering long and boring hours in unpleasant places. The former obsess over the image of Special Forces while the latter are out putting in the hard work at all hours in the gym, on the gun range and in the hills improving their core soldiering skills.

Whatever you do in life the fundamentals are the core of your skills, and they must be mastered before moving onto the details. The reality is whenever you see a successful individual – a self-made entrepreneur, an Olympic athlete, an accomplished musician – you can be certain you’re looking at an individual who has paid attention to perfecting the fundamentals.

Success and attention to fundamentals usually go hand in hand in life, and a good foundation is critical to accomplishing your goals.

For example, if you do not grasp the basics of chess you are never going to have the foundation needed to support the finer nuances of the game. If you do not understand algebra you will never be able to master calculus.

While getting lost in the details can often be easy, mastering the basics first will give you a much better chance of winning in the long-run.

Unfortunately many people want to rush through the basics to get to the more interesting and complex information. Or perhaps they believe that the more advanced work is where real power lies.

But they fail to realise that even a mastery of the basics will put you far ahead of most people, and to excel at the advanced work you must first know where to begin.

The same applies to health, and it is the whole reason why TNE exists. As a society we have lost sight of the fundamental actions that sit at the core of great health: Quality sleep, nutritious and un-processed food, and regular movement.

Clearly it is more nuanced than this but when you break it down to the core this is what you are left with. The answer is not in some new exercise regime, or celebrity diet, but in a set simple actions that need to be practiced on a consistent basis.

Thoroughly mastering the basics will take time, but it is beyond a doubt time that will be well spent. There are no shortcuts to real success and time devoted to the basics is the key to long-lasting progress and success.

Learning fundamentals isn’t fun, it’s not “sexy”, but it is necessary. And when you’ve reached the point of understanding the fundamentals, you can go on with an advantage over every other person who has failed to do this.


“Success is neither magical nor mysterious.
Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying
the basic fundamentals.”
Jim Rohn