Why? “Why” is a very profound question to ask. It was the second question that my daughter would ask me about 50 times per day after “what’s that daddy?” Understanding “why” someone does what they do gives us a huge understanding behind the motivation to participate in a certain behavior. “Why” is the first question I ask a prospect when I first sit down with them. Once I know each individual’s “why,” then I can begin to reverse engineer what I need to do to help them get to their goal. It becomes the basis for which drives everything that we do from day one.
That said, once someone starts an exercise program, there are certain essentials that should be included in everyone’s exercise program, REGARDLESS of their “why” or goal. It’s not just about picking things up and putting them down. It doesn’t matter if you want to look better on the beach, have your knee stop bothering you when going up stairs, or to perform better on the slopes. There are some key components to help you get the “best bang for your buck” in each and every session.
The following points are areas of interest that you want to make sure you are getting from your exercise routine…whether you are your own trainer or you have hired help.
- Not addressing your soft tissue.
One of the best ways to transition from the rigors of your day to your workout is to spend a few minutes doing some soft tissue work (preferably pre-workout). Foam rolling is much more main-stream than it was when I first entered the industry almost 20 years ago. We have even become more sadistic by using lacrosse balls and PVC pipes to self-inflict even more discomfort which leads to better tissue health and more pliable muscles which will be more apt to lengthen when we stretch them later on. It’s not just about the mechanical stress to the muscles and connective tissue. Regardless of the tool of choice, you are looking to hit a “reset button” with your nervous system. There are receptors within the muscles that communicate various information to your brain. The goal is to create a release within muscles that are bound up and “hyper.” By rolling specific areas of tension, you can not only unlock movement (and release cranky joints), you can also increase oxygenated blood to unhealthy tissues and intimately have your body be much more accepting of your workout that is about to commence.
- You can’t unload if you can’t load.
The concept of loading is a vital one that will help explain not only how individual muscles work, but also how chains of muscles function together to perform movement. Think about a rubber band. If I place one in your hand, it will stay there motionless until…we stretch or load it. Now is has all this stored energy that can be utilized. Our muscles work the same way (albeit, slightly more complex). Now what if someone can’t load their muscles properly for whatever reason? Let’s say that your hamstrings can’t load when you bend down to pick up your bag. IF your body can’t get it from one area, it will get it from somewhere else. Since picking up your bag was task specific, it will get it no matter HOW it gets there. Typically if someone can’t load through the hamstrings (lift with your legs right?!) it will pick on the neighbor by moving motion up the spine. In an ideal world, your muscles are able to load in ALL three planes of motion (more on this later), through the entire spectrum of speeds, with stability and control, all while having fun doing what it is you are doing.
How do you know what to stretch? Is one side worse than the other? We can answer these questions by doing our 3D MAPS (3D Movement Analysis and Performance System) assessment. By looking at which specific parts of the body can’t load (or stretch), it creates compensatory movement patterns. The body will always take the path of least resistance. Compensation alone may or may not be a bad thing. However, over time, it can lead to structural breakdown and eventual injury. That’s why each and every client we work with is assessed so we know EXACTLY what parts of the body need to be lengthened.
- Living in a 1 dimensional world.
Life occurs in a three dimensional world, as does human movement. The incredible design of the human body is capable of moving in all three planes, not only as a whole but at EACH and every joint and muscle as well! To maximize how our body moves (which will affect how it looks and performs as well), we MUST honor each plane.
Think about how you move in your daily life and how these planes define your movement. The Sagittal Plane (SP) is any movement that occurs in a forwards or backwards direction. Stepping, bending, and reaching forward are movements that take place within the SP. The Frontal Plane (FP) would have movements that take place by moving side to side. A traditional jumping jack is an excellent example of a FP movement. Others would include stepping sideways or reaching with one arm overhead while side bending. Last, but definitely not least, the often neglected Transverse Plane (TP). Any rotary type pattern is a TP motion. Swinging a baseball bat or taking an open step with your foot would require your body to rotate in the TP. As you contemplate these planes, think about working out in a traditional health club. Which plane dominates many of the machines? The cardio deck is arranged with equipment that cost tens of thousands of dollars and they all “move” you in the SP. Think about all the forwards (or backwards) movement that takes place on those same machines. As for the strength training area, they DO introduce the other two planes but it’s still really SP dominant. To solve this problem, get off the machines and learn how to move your most amazing “machine” – your own body!
- You’re putting your nervous system to asleep.
Both voluntary and involuntary movements are governed by your central nervous system. If one wants to enhance how they move (activities of daily living, athletic performance, etc.) then by training the body in a way that it was designed to move should make logical sense. For example, when we walk, the front leg in gait has to decelerate as soon as the foot hits the ground. Gravity, momentum and ground reaction all help to create a chain reaction that starts at the foot and systematically (and quickly) sends forces up the leg, around the pelvis and back down the other leg which results in propulsion (we didn’t even talk about the counter rotation that occurs at the thoracic spine). Exercises that train the body in “isolation” will have less than optimal transfer into performance when compared with exercises that are neurologically rich. Bottom line, regardless of whether your goal is to look, feel, or perform better, having an exercise program that nourishes your nervous system in a way that it reflexively was wired to move will ensure that you can continue to perform at your best for years to come.
We will give you the other 4 mistakes for Part II next month. For now, you have your hands full with these first 4.
Train hard but train smart!
PS – Are you ready to take your training to a new level and your goals to new heights? If so, send us an EMAIL to schedule your first of two Success Sessions with one of our coaches.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
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