Improving Fitness to Focus, Part II

The ability to assign intense and sustained focus to a specific task at a specific time – and for long enough to execute a task at hand – undoubtedly holds immense value.

You know this. I know this. And yet, most of us still struggle with it… daily.

Look, I can acknowledge the positive intent behind phrases such as Just do it!, Forget perfection!, or Eliminate distractions!, but people – we’re effectively perpetuating the problem when we default to generic sayings to solve for specific attention (well, lack thereof). Like telling an athlete, “You got this!” when the athlete actually needs a distinct, technical cue – I implore you to upgrade your “cue kit” similarly for the functional movement that is focus. All it takes? An increased understanding of some basic, non-negotiable principles of neuroscience.

In Improving Fitness to Focus, Part I, we talked about this three-part neural cocktail that scientifically activates, not just figuratively inspires, increased focus.  Agitation as an appetizer, with a mix of norepinephrine + acetylcholine + dopamine. Menial tasks aside, the ability to conjure heightened concentration lends itself to increased neuroplasticity, and increased neuroplasticity lends itself to the expansion of one’s perception. Hello, adult learning! 

All this being said, it’s useful to know that the presence of agitation we experience (even when we aren’t quite sure why we’re feeling that way) is what first nudges us to move toward seeking relief from a current state. Through this compulsion to seek relief, norepinephrine and acetylcholine are released, which bring about urgency and attention, and it is because of this increased urgency and focus that our brain is activated for plasticity! What keeps us on task at this point is dopamine, which can be released merely by saying to yourself, I’m on the right path.

More importantly, here, comes in twofold.

  1. If you don’t move in some capacity toward alleviating agitation/frustration, your brain doesn’t offer you these neurochemicals.
  2. Despite the inclination to maybe go out and buy a bunch of “super foods”, “super supplements”, or “super resources”, you already possess the ability to elicit these neurochemicals for sustained focus through some good ol’ fashioned work; no external resources needed.

At the end of the day, remember: Mother Nature rewards forward movement. And with respect to focus, forward action beats forward thought. Kill the discussion about mind-body connection as one or the other being relevant. It’s both.

8/7/20 WOD


[Meet at Anderson Park]


[Meet at Pan Pacific Park]


Make 4 attempts of the following for load:
:10 Front Rack Barbell Walk Out

Front Squats

Then, complete 3 rounds for quality of:
10 Front Foot Elevated DB Split Squats – Left
10 Front Foot Elevated DB Split Squats – Right
10 Snatch Grip RDLs

Then, complete the following for time:
60 DB Hang Squat Clean Thrusters (50/30)

**EMOM 5 burpees