When meeting with new clients, I’ve found the most common goals people want to achieve are looking and feeling good.
Of course we all want to look good naked, but as we get older the real challenge is how we can move better longer. When incorporating any type of training into your fitness plan, studies are showing that the better you move, not necessarily how much muscle you have, the longer and more pain free life you live. Though we have heard buzz words like functional training and free training in fitness marketing ads, many people do not know how to improve body movement for longevity. Here are a few tips that you can easily incorporate into your everyday practice to help improve your overall health through functional movement.
Bye bye machines —The first step to learn how to move better is just that, moving better. Exercise machines assume the body is robotic and move you as such. In real life we never move only in one direction at a time. Machines will have you locked into one position and move you front to back, side to side, or the age-old twist. As much as I love how machines can get you stronger, in the long run you’re hurting yourself because they don’t emulate real life. Besides limiting you to unidirectional movements, machines also are horrible for strengthening and engaging the most important collection of muscles in your body, your core. If you’re training on machines, you’re teaching yourself how to move in limited planes of motion and in turn hurting your long term success physically.
Twist and shout —The forgotten movement pattern in the weight room is the twist. Even when doing functional exercises without any machines involved, we tend to move the body front to back and sometimes side to side, but very rarely do we twist. The body moves in three planes, frontal (side to side), sagittal (front to back) and transverse (twisting). Though we think of it less, twisting is actually the most important movement we do because it encompasses the other two and is critical for creating power through our core. It’s essential that our body can both stabilize and produce power through our mid-section in the transverse plane to protect our back from any injuries during everyday life. With your normal front-to-back exercises like lunges, gradually add in a twist or turn to intensify your strength in the transverse plane.
Be animalistic — Though some of us only show it on Saturday nights, we at heart are animals and really were made to move like one. Again, exercising in the gym many times breaks us down into muscle groups rather than encouraging us to move as one clean collective unit. Think about this: when a baby first learns to move, it crawls to help teach all of the body’s muscles to work in harmony. When’s the last time you crawled on the ground like a baby? Well do it more. Add in some time of crawling and animalistic movements to your workouts and you will see many of your ailments disappear. You will also find yourself more coordinated than before. The best part about these movements is that they burn more calories than single-plane movements in a lot less time making it a great way to get shredded quickly.
Core core core — Of course I saved the best for last. The best way to improve your movement is through more core training. The core is the foundation of the house and really includes all muscles running through the trunk from shoulder to pelvis on the front and back side of the body. What people rarely think about is that core training is really posture training and even coordination training because as the core gets stronger, other muscle groups are able to work more efficiently. More efficient muscles mean better movement patterns which leads to longevity in how the body works. If there’s anything to remember, it’s work your core in all-movement patterns and your body will feel better.
Moving better is the key to longevity and having an efficiently working body. By moving better we can help pain reduction and prevent many of the ailments we see from overuse injuries. As you work out, remember looks are great, but overall use and movement is the most important goal.