Movement inspiration 3/24/14 Intensity and complexity

Intensity and complexity are the two of the most important qualities in movement. Intensity means going higher, faster and stronger. Complexity means more connections, more flow, more improvisation and dealing with more variables in general. It is through the pursuit of both we approach completeness as movers.

These qualities are parametric to each other which is to say that as one increases the other must to a degree decrease. Your top sprinting speed is only available to you when sprinting is the only motor pattern involved and the ground is flat and hard. If your top speed is 25 mph your top speed approaching a long jump you might reach 22, add more movement for the nervous system to process more interruptions to the stride cycle and speed will continue to be dialed back. No one can maintain Usain bolt speeds through courses as complex as trained by someone like Alex Schauer.

Similarly a juggler manipulates objects in increasingly complex patterns while a power lifter manipulates objects through increasing levels of intensity. No one can juggle 700 lbs barbells nor can anyone express the same level of force production against a juggling ball as against the barbell.

Some tools and practices are optimized for intensity, some for complexity.
For intensity think, sprinting and plyometrics in the realm of locomotion, in manipulation powerlifting and olympic lifting in interaction sumo wrestling.
For complexity, in locomotion think parkour, gymnastics, acrobatics, tricking, capoeira, various forms of dance, in manipulation juggling, hula hooping, jump rope, board sports, ping pong, in interaction Jujitsu, Capoeira, and various partner dances.

You need both in my practice I seek intensity in sprinting, plyometrics and lifting, I engage complexity through parkour, and now capoiera and dance.

One should not limit themselves to either end of the spectrum or even both extremes there is great value to be found in the liminal zone. When you practice parkour for instance scale back your complexity on some courses so you can push to build speed or power in a course, in lifting adding barbell complex and strong man work will make you a far more adaptable and resilient athlete.

One of my favorie practices for balancing intensity and complexity is kettlebell juggling, a Kettlebell is much less optimized for complex juggling then a traditional juggling ball or club, but there are only a few things that provide a more potent stimulus to both.

Your challenge today if you have some experience with Kettlebells try some simple hand to hand drills, if you don’t have access to KB’s play with some driftwood or rocks on the beach.

Add some high speed parkour sprints if you have a sufficient base in both sprinting and parkour course work.

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