Improving Fitness to Focus, Part I

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration that comes with wanting to start a task, but struggled to acquire the focus necessary to accomplish it – let alone start it – you’d be wise to pursue a greater understanding of neuroscience.

Look, we all want flow. To get in “the zone”, lose track of time, lock into an all-consuming state. Yeah, yeah, how sexy, I hear you loud and clear. But have you ever considered the prerequisite state you’ll need to reconcile with before something like flow is even possible?

Here’s the deal: if you’re interested in modifying your brain for the better, having a greater understanding of urgency and focus is essential. This is because neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form and reorganize new synaptic connections – to learn or experience new information, and/or in new ways – is contingent upon bringing as much focus as possible to a behavior, thought, or action pattern.

However, just like none of us would enter the gym expecting to PR a lift without warming up, it’s important to understand that your brain also needs to warm up before heightened focus & attention are possible. Accordingly, this is where you should welcome, not discourage(!) agitation, flow’s grossly underrated cousin. That’s right, when you feel stressed or frustrated while trying to reign in focus on a specific task, recognizing that that feeling actually accompanies “dropping in” to deep focus might just be what encourages you to persevere next time, instead of prematurely abandoning a task.  

As it turns out, there’s a bit of a neural “cocktail” that can help us enter states of remarkable concentration. Agitation aside (look at it as the appetizer), it can be helpful to conceptualize this three-ingredient “cocktail” as containing the following:

  1.       Norepinephrine (adrenaline that gets you going)
  2.       Acetylcholine (serves like a spotlight of attention)
  3.       Dopamine (Mother Nature’s hard-wired system to inform us we’re on the right path)

While I’m no neuroscientist, (you can thank the brilliant Dr. Andrew Huberman for this information), I share this to challenge you to pursue your cognitive fitness, specifically your ability to focus, with the same tenacity and commitment that you’re already bringing to the gym to pursue greater strength and conditioning.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we’ll discuss your extraordinary capacity to internally acquire, as opposed to externally source, the aforementioned “cocktail” ingredients for focus.

7/30/20 WOD


[Meet at Anderson Park]


[Meet at Pan Pacific Park]


Take 10 minutes to establish a heavy 3 position clean..

Then, complete 4 rounds for time:
12 1-Arm DB Overhead Sit Ups – Left
12 1-Arm DB Overhead Sit Ups – Right
10 DB 3-Way Raise

Then, EMOM 16
Even: 8 Strict Pull Ups
Odd: :20 Max Squats

**Athletes record lowest round score