The lessons I've obtained from my greatest feats of strength that I've achieved over the years.
"In 2015 I broke my record of consecutive ring muscle-ups by completing 10 repetitions. I also did a weighted 25 kg (55 lbs) ring muscle-up, archer muscle-ups, wide ring muscle ups and so on."
I was never a calisthenics Athlete though but focused also on movement training, kettlebell training, weightlifting and gymnastics among other things.
Although these feats would be considered strong according to many scales, it has nothing to do with real strength training or developing optimal strength.
But to realize this I had to let go of my old ways and it hurt like crazy. I was essentially ripping away something that had built my self-worth for years - heavy lifts, flashy skills, pull-up records, weighted dips and such.
Luckily I had the resolution for it because I came to discover a method of strength training that didn’t rely on repetitions, weights or skills.
Later I realized that this independence from externalities was one of the main defining factors that separated strength training from skill training.
I spent the first 5 years of my training journey getting well versed with traditional methods and the next 6 years adding pieces to the puzzle that were missing from the mainstream methods.
These missing pieces ended up saving me and hundreds of others from painful problems in the body while getting immensely strong. In the process, I also learned a sustainable way to go after many impressive skills that were my early passion.
We all start with skill training. It cannot be avoided because it's the natural inclination we all have... and it does carry many benefits as well.
For our whole lives, we've been primed for tasks. We're task-oriented. It's how our brain works. You gotta get from point A to B, you gotta complete the task.
You have to do 25 repetitions of push-ups so you go and complete it. You have to run 100 meters and make the ball fly 50 meters. For all of this, you need skills and you need to be focused on the skill.
This is all we've ever come to know and so it takes over all of our training.
As such I had approached skills from the outside. I had taken them at face value and let them mold my body without knowing if they were doing more harm than good.
Whereas now, I have the ability to approach skill training from the inside. I can dissect the skills and make them work the way they are meant to work.
By the body and with respect to the body. I understood the purpose of skills and power moves and how to make any of them work.
Let's not leave skill training to its tracks, everything needs to evolve and it starts with us. I know it’s hard to let go of the old but it’s often the only way to make room for new discoveries. And these discoveries may be more valuable than you could have ever imagined.
By understanding the difference between skill and strength I was able to make the most out of both worlds.
You can go after your goals and reach them. You can learn stunning moves while building pliable and strong muscles. You can develop spider-sense-like spatial awareness.
Just make sure you do this in a clean and sustainable way. Skills should be practiced from internal to external.
"This way you remain the master."
- Eero Westerberg
Clean Progress Vs. Dirty Progress
Over the ten year journey of training, learning and researching we've obviously tried a lot of different things and our training has shifted from one area to another.
This phase of experimentation was an important phase in regards to understanding what works, what doesn't and what are the underlying principles in all forms of training.
As it turns out, the vast majority of people still don't know how to do proper strength training but this is primarily because no one has taught them how and why to do it in the first place.
To develop the body, you need a good mixture of both skill training and strength training. Kung Fu and Qigong have something similar: training is split into Internal & External and Soft & Hard. This is something we will be demonstrating in the near future.
The conventional methods work (up to a point) but the progress is dirty meaning it will result in "casualties" when it comes to your joints, tendons and even your posture.
Over the last 10 years we traveled across the world and met many masters of longevity such as Steve Maxwell and Jiang Yu Shan to perfect the picture. You can read our story here.
We were ready to "lose it all" and put everything on pause to make room for something new.
Imagine being at the top of the food chain when it comes to feats of strength like Eero was and yet still not clinging to what you've achieved?
It takes a lot of humility and understanding to break a pattern you've invested so much into. This refusal to accept the present reality is what changed the trajectory of our physical development and the direction of VAHVA Fitness.
The reality back then had all the glitz and glory but it was also filled with lots of pain and problems. Now, the pain and problems are gone but the body is more capable than ever before and in the areas where it actually matters.
This is what is possible once you shift from dirty progress to clean progress and let the process work for you.
Many of these epiphanies you can find in Skill Master as well as the previous 20XX programs that were all recently updated.
Train hard, stay safe.