Bands, bubbles, blogs

Banded squats are a funny thing. They take a simple movement and make it hard. A loop of rubber around both knees whilst doing the movement forces the muscles of the hip to engage in ways they wouldn’t if left alone. Here’s what a banded squat looks like.

banded squat

Obviously, this particular movement isn’t about being fast or being strong. It’s about getting the right muscles to kick in at the right times. At the bottom of the movement, unless you actively resist, the band will pull your knees towards each other and compromise the efficacy of the exercise. So, you respond by exaggerating the flaring of the knees. This ingrains the pattern of driving the knees outward, thus recruiting the little and large hip muscles that will offer you the most strength and power throughout the movement.

For some reason, as I was doing banded squats yesterday, this stuck in my mind and I began to wonder why. Such exercises, as I mentioned above, aren’t about maximising strength or power—not directly anyway. They’re about giving cues to the body to function in the right way. Is this not somehow similar to how we consume information and think?

For example, you’re probably familiar with the term “filter bubble”. It’s the tendency to construct an environment that supports our preferences and is biased towards the confirmation of our beliefs. For instance, if I think CrossFit is B.S. I’m unlikely to follow and/or listen to avid CrossFitters. The way to escape this filter bubble, and thus remove some biases and blindspots from your thinking, is to deliberately make divergent information inputs a part of your environment.

Now recall the banded squat. The aim of the banded squat is to provide just enough resistance to get your body to co-ordinate itself in an optimal way. Too little resistance and it’ll do what it normally does—valgus collapse, for example. Too much and you obliterate the movement pattern. This is true of the infoscapes we construct, too. I’m not a neo-nazi, a Marxist, or generally a devotee of any other -ist or -ism, but there’s benefit to including such people and orgs in my feeds. They provide a little “resistance” to my thoughts. They provide corrective cues to my prevailing and preferred worldview. I don’t completely censor them from my information inputs, but I also don’t flood my environment. I add just a pinch, just a sprinkle.

I realised this as I was training in my garage, and I had a further meta-realisation immediately after. For over three years now I’ve been writing and publishing daily. To do that, to write, I have to think new thoughts or refactor old ones at a rapid rate. And to do that I have to look, constantly, everywhere, all the time, and in as many different ways as possible. Which is, I think, one of the primary boons of this self-imposed blog-daily practice. It’s trained me to always, and mostly without effort, be looking and thinking and asking questions of myself and the world I experience.