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The Big Rocks Series

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

What do we mean by 'Big Rocks'???



If you have been following us on our social media platforms you will have noticed that we have recently posted a couple of instructional videos detailing how to perform certain exercises in the gym. We are calling it our “Big Rocks” series! The name is derived from a simple philosophy relating to how we choose to prioritise the various aspects of our life. It is expressed through the image of an empty jar surrounded by an array of large rocks, smaller pebbles, and tiny grains of sand. If the jar is filled to the top first with the largest rocks, we appear to have a full jar with little room for more. However, if we add the pebbles and shake the jar, they will seek out the gaps between the larger rocks allowing both to fit neatly inside. Once more, the jar appears full, but like the pebbles, if we add the sand to the jar, the grains will trickle through, finding their place between the rocks and pebbles.


On the other hand, if the jar is filled with sand first and then pebbles, we will find that there is no room for the big rocks.


In this analogy, the size of the rock determines its importance in our lives. This philosophy can be implemented to guide the management of our time, ensuring the most important tasks are prioritised over trivial ones. One individual who has effectively employed this philosophy is Nic Gill, Strength and Conditioning Coach of the New Zealand All Blacks. The All Blacks are the most successful team in world rugby with a winning percentage of 77.12% over more than 600 test matches and are widely considered to be on of the most successful teams in sporting history (so they must be doing something right). For Nic and his All Blacks, the big rocks are the compound lifts, the multi-joint movements that require the strength and coordination of several muscle groups at a time. These exercises offer you the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of energy requirement, muscle involvement and time management. These movements combined with unilateral (single arm or leg) movements and core work make up the foundation of the All Blacks’ strength programme.


"Big Rocks is about doing the basics really well… most of the general population can achieve huge things in health and happiness by doing the basics well. When we try to complicate things, we get lost. So, filter out all that complexity, and put a basic plan in place. That is what we do." Nic Gill


Once the basics are in place, that is when the pebbles and the sand are introduced, to fill the gaps and squeeze out that extra 1%. This too is how we go about our programming at Athlete Focused and we want to make sure this comes across when you visit us on our social media platforms. Social media is a fantastic place to share information and can facilitate many resources to learn from. There are countless numbers of Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts sharing information to assist you with your health and fitness goals. With that, however, comes a need to be seen; a need to be noticed above rest. More often than not, this comes in the form of quick fixes or exuberant exercises with long, complicated names that use up half of the equipment in the gym for the sake of looking special and complex. It is easy to be persuaded by these flashy exercises, but they are rarely (if ever) the magical solution to your fitness goal. That is not to say that these exercises are pointless… far from it! Every exercise can have its place in a programme; however, these exercises are the sand in our jar. If we fill our programme with them at the expense of our bigger rocks, we will be losing out on more meaningful adaptations. This is why we have created our Big Rocks series. To cut through the noise and share with our followers the exercises that we believe should be the fundamentals of any programme. Our Big Rocks series consists of 6 lower body, and 5 upper body exercises covering the most fundamental movement patterns; those being the squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull and brace. We will be releasing a new video every month, so stay tuned!

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