Dating back to as early as 3,000BC, man has been lifting heavy objects in order to become stronger in sport, to do battle, to impress women, and to invigorate the body and mind. Ancient Chinese scrolls tell of soldiers lifting weighted objects before their entry into the military. The point I am getting at is that weight lifting or resistance training is nothing new.
Although we are not lifting stones anymore (unless it’s an Atlas Stone) nor are most of us preparing to do battle, our bodies should still be able to perform certain movements. Squatting, pushing, pulling, reaching and bending should all be part of our repertoire. The sad truth is that this is far from the case as I work with 95% of my clients to correct posture and bad movement patterns.
Judging by the amount of bench pressing, bicep curls, and leg presses I still bear witness to in many commercial gyms I think it is safe to say that most people are unaware of the potential damage that they are continue to inflict on themselves. One resource I recommend to my clients who are interested in learning more about correcting movement on their own is Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook. It is the first manual of it’s kind to show you how to train for smooth fluid movements and prevent muscle imbalances, mobility restrictions, stability problems, and injuries.
One thing that everybody should have done periodically by a qualified and experienced professional who should help to point out any muscle imbalances or bad movement patterns. Adding certain corrective exercises to your program will not only help you move better but will help to prevent injury as well as improve your overall quality of life.
Most people get yearly checkups at the dentist and doctors office. You even periodically take your car in to the shop to make sure everything is running properly. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing for your body?
Things break down and stop working properly so it is only logical to fix them. Unless you get checked out, you won’t know what needs to be fixed. Consider a proper assessment like a 12-point inspection for your body.
Personally, I use the FMS as standard for movement quality with each client I work with in order to first establish a baseline for movement. From there I decide the quickest way to improve the weakest links in the kinetic chain in order to
Another great tool for assessment that I have found priceless is Muscle Imbalances Revealed by Rick Kaselj, Mike Robertson, Kevin Yates, Bill Hartman, Eric Beard, and Dean Somerset. It it by far the most comprehensive tool that I use with my clients when it comes to identifying muscular imbalances, correcting them, and preventing injury.
Warmup and Corrective Exercise
“If it’s important, do it every day.” – Dan John
This may quite possibly be the most important aspect of training that 95% of the population neglects. This is where I include a dynamic, mobility, and activation exercises in each program in order to prepare your body for more intense exercise. This is more beneficial than the old belief of warming up on a treadmill and doing some light stretching as you often times are correcting muscular imbalances, activating core muscles and enhancing movement patterns.
Pre-warmup foam rolling or soft tissue work may be one of the best things you can do for your body. It not only stretches muscles and tendons but also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. Using only a foam roller and your own body weight you can perform myofascial release or “SMR”, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while warming up local muscle tissue.
Check out The 3 Ms of a Proper Warmup.
“Push something, pull something, do something for your legs, and do something for your core.” – Mike Boyle
When it comes to resistance training, often times it is best to keep your program as simple as possible and only focus on training a few key movements during each session.
Essentially, we are able to push and pull both horizontally (such as a push-up or row) and vertically (such as a lat pull-down or overhead press). For your lower body, the two major movements are bending at the knees (squats or lunges) or bending at the hips (straight leg deadlifts or hip extensions).
Core training is another popular buzz word that is highly misunderstood. These are exercises that are typically geared towards the abdominals and lower back and are typically thought of as strength exercises such as planks. More and more research is beginning to show that training these muscles for stability and endurance is more beneficial that strength training alone.
“A good program performed poorly is worthless. A shitty program done with a ton of effort is worth a lot. But when you get a good program and a ton of effort, the results can be amazing.” – Alwyn Cosgrove
I am going to be blunt with this one, if you are not using a program created by someone who knows what they are doing then you are probably wasting your time. It takes a lot of skill to create a good program and I am still learning quite a bit when it comes to great program design.
A little side note: I have been training for over a decade now and still look to other great strength coaches for my own programs. Imagine what they can do for you.
Here are a few of the programs that I have tried, use with my clients and whole-heartedly endorse. Unlike P90X and other similar programs, these were created by actual strength coaches and were designed to not only get you to look better but to feel better and move better as well. Whether you are young, old, male, female, new to training or a regular gym rat, both Show and Go and Accelerated Muscular Development will give you life changing results.
I have left you with the key elements of a solid training program, all you have to do is fill in the blanks with proper exercise selection. Remember: keep it simple.