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| | | BrainWOD – 8 Daily “BWODS” to Improve Brain Function and Performance

Author / Luke Summers

I've been training daily on Lumosity for the past several weeks in attempt to improve memory, acuity, and other cognitive function.  It's actually pretty fun but the one caveat for me is that in order to get a solid day of "training" in I need 100% of my attention span, and no outside distractions to stay focused, which surprisingly is hard to come by.

HomerSimpson-insert-brain-here

On top of that, I felt that a daily 10 to 15 minute session of mouse clicking could help with some decision making and cognitive function. I became curious what the training effects of incorporating new types of "physical activity" might be on brain function, coordination, and performance.

It turns out that the BRAIN is a primary component of your central nervous system. We talk quite often about central nervous system (CNS) efficiency and it's role in your training. To keep it short and sweet, it's the synergy between your muscle and CNS function that allows you to rip the bar off the ground, jump through the roof, or run through your opponent.

brainWOD

I reached out to Power Athlete's resident professor of neuroscience, Steve Platek (@splatek on PAHQ.com), to get some details on what a solid set of BWODs could do for you. What came back was an amazing brain dump. Here's what I learned. It turns out that spending a modest amount of time completing the BWODs below will activate two primary brain sites: the prefrontal cortex attentional system and the hippocampus. Why do you care about this? Because these two systems are primarily responsible for two important components of performance:

1) Short term attention span - Your ability to visualize a play,  pitch,  strike, combat scenario, shot or lift and then immediately reflect on and learn from sensory input
2) Ego-positioning - The system that calculates relative body position to your environment (field, opponent, platform, battle field, batter's box, court, pitch, etc.) based of sensory input

So maybe you don't want to cough up the $15.00 to train on Lumosity, or don't have 20 minutes to sit down and train? Don't worry! With Steve's help I was able to come up with the below set of BWODS that anyone could do to improve brain function. The best part? They are slight modifications to your day, so there's no significant time commitment!

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AUTHOR

Luke Summers

Luke is the COO of Power Athlete. He has been training athletes in CrossFit, Weightlifting, and Olympic Lifting since 2007. He spent 6 years pushing pencils in “Corporate America,” spending 3 of those years moonlighting as a Strength & Conditioning Coach before and after work. Luke was an athlete his whole life and played multiple sports, but his primary focus was football. He played up through college until a neck injury forced him to hang it up. He travels with the CrossFit Football staff and has coaches a variety of athletes from amateur to professional levels in football, baseball, and track.

6 Comments

  1. shepherd on October 15, 2014 at 5:11 am

    Try learning to write with your non-dominant hand. I have excellent penmanship but writing my name with my non-dom is equivalent to a 2nd grader’s.

  2. Nick41 on October 17, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I have been doing this the past couple of days. I will say that brushing my teeth now takes longer as my brain tries to figure out how to move the tooth brush in my non-dominant hand. The other things aren’t as hard. My wife constantly makes fun of me and wants to video me doing it. She says she wants to see if anyone is as weird as I am trying to do things with their non-dominant hand just to challenge themselves.

  3. Luke Summers on October 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Nick, that’s hilarious! Brushing your teeth off hand is a bit of task, it’s the one I had the hardest time with as well. At about day 10 I realized that it’s a coordination between head and arm that allows you to brush so elegantly with your dominant hand…

  4. Monday 10/20/14 | Bladium Denver Crossfit on October 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    […] BRAINWOD – 8 DAILY “BWODS” TO IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION AND PERFORMANCE […]

  5. Rick G on October 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    i improved non-dominant arm a lot after breaking my dominant side clavicle and having surgery. accurately using keys to open doors was interesting and so were chopsticks. chopsticks weren’t really that hard, but i found myself demoing the movement with my right hand, paying close attention, and then copying it with left.

  6. Ingo B on October 30, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Fun fact: I can throw a perfect spiral (US football) with either hand.

    As Rick G mentioned, focusing on, then transferring, the movement to the non-dominant hand actually improves your dominant side’s performance. The act of analyzing helps, I guess.

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