It’s time to abandon your unrequited obsession with “the basics”.
Before you tar and feather me, hear me out.
The basics are absolutely essential, and you HAVE to get good at them. In fact, probably one of the best quotes of all time on the importance of getting good at the basics comes from M. Sgt. Duane Stanton of the USAF Pararescue:
“The only thing that separates the elite from all the rest is the fact that the elite are better at the basics than everyone else.”
Hard to argue with that.
But while you should always find room for the basics in some way in your training, at some point the best way to keep going forth and unrepentantly crushing weakness is going to come from stepping up to the plate and taking on some more advanced exercises.
Let’s take the kettlebell, for instance. If all you ever do is swings, get ups, and goblet squats, you can still be good – great, even.
But once you’ve dialed in those basics and the above-and-beyond flexibility and mobility required to perform them, AND can comfortably do them all with a bell at or above, say, 1/3 to 1/2 of your bodyweight (depending on your age, gender, mileage, etc.) with great technique and to the point where you can practically do it all with your eyes closed (please don’t try), why not put those basics to the test and test your mettle with some more advanced stuff?
In the kettlebell world, my vote would go to working up toward heavy repetition double kettlebell long cycle clean and jerks. Not only will they will leave you even more out of breath than that last sentence, they are the ultimate in kettlebell lifting – 1/2 push, 1/2 pull, 1/2 squat, and all muscle-building, strength-imbuing, weakness shattering (also, yes, I realize that one thing cannot be three halves of something, and no, I don’t give a shit).
Same goes for the calisthenics world. Nose-bleed high-rep sets of dips, pullups, and bodyweight squats should eventually give way to pistols and pullups (preferably weighted) and extended ROM handstand pushups – or better yet, front lever and planche work.
By all means, honor the basics. But do them the greatest honor by putting the foundation they built to the test and building a magnificent temple of accomplishments upon them. When the time comes to clear all distractions and hone your skills in just the basics again – and that time will come – you will be better prepared not only to understand what you must do, but to appreciate it as well.