Sunday 8.07.11

What is the catalyst for this exercise; shoulder or hip extension?  One will leave your joints sore, tired, and potentially injured, the other will alone safely and effectively raise the kettlebell almost into the proper postion at Full ROM
Last week we discussed the ability to compare previous scores on workouts by performing each exercise and repetition exactly the same, and then recording it for next time.  Today I wanted to add to the reasons for scrutinizing movements and exercises until we perform the full and proper range of motion by talking about skill transfers. 

All of the exercises and movements we do at The Compound are Functional Movements.  They are movements that mimic motor recruitment patterns that are found in our everyday lives. Other movements are somewhat unique to the gym. Some examples of functional movements include: The Squat, which is standing from a seated position; and the Deadlift, which is picking any object off the ground. Some examples of non-functional movements include: Leg extension, leg curl, and dumbbell flyes, which have no equivalent in nature. The bulk of isolation (bodybuilding) movements are single-joint and not extremely functional.  By contrast the compound or multi-joint movements are functional.  Natural movement in life typically involves the movement of multiple joints for every activity.

The importance of functional movements is primarily two-fold: 1) The functional movements are mechanically sound and therefore safe, and 2) they are the movements that elicit a high neuroendocrine response, which enhances strength and performance.  The soundness and efficacy of the functional movements we perform are so profound that exercising without them is, by comparison, a waste of time.

Since all the movements we perform are functional movements and are therefore the safest and most effective way to move, it makes sense that every exercise we perform should build and enhance other exercises.  To aide in this endeavor, the exercises we perform are constantly affecting and strengthening our bodies from the core to the extremities.  In other words, much of our work focuses on the major functional parts of the human body, the extension, flexion, and rotation of the hips and torso, and the stability of the mid-line (abs and lower back).  Running, jumping, punching, throwing, virtually all human movement originates at the core then extends out to the extremities.

What's the best way to build up the core and improve atheletic performance in every movement?  Perform correct and full range of motion on every single repetition and correcting yourself when you accidentally slip up.

So let's look at some examples.  Last week we did the workout "Kelly", which was 5 rounds of 400m run, 30 Box Jumps, and 30 Wall Balls.  When looking at these exercises and the workout as a whole, we can look at performing it a few ways, each with vastly different results:

  • First, we can come in to just get a "cardio" workout and just get as sweaty as possible to feel like we did a good workout.  The hazards with this is typically form slips up and becomes unsafe at times, but as long as we are moving we're getting a workout right? But maybe on box jumps we stop opening up the hips at the top, or we don't get the ball high enough on wall ball, or we don't squat to depth.  These are bad habits that we are teaching ourselves like poor posture while sitting at the computer. 
  • Second, we can say if we want to be good at this workout, so all I need to do run fast, and become a great "box jumper" and "wall baller", but that is where the improvement generally ends.  
  • Lastly, I can look at the workout and see that all the movements are similar and if I focus on hip extension I can perform all the reps safely and effectively, which generally means I get done with the workout faster and without injury or other undesirable results.
I personally do not want to be the best "Wall Baller" or "Box Jumper" out there, and I certainly don't just want a good "sweating cardio" workout.  I want to improve my fitness and build up my core as safely and effectively as possible so I can remain active and healthy longer than is expected of me in life.  So when I see Wall Balls, I don't just see that exercise.  I see the opportunity to improve my front squats technique, my hip drive (or extension), and my push press.  All three of those things will in turn help improve my Cleans, Jerks, Box Jumps, running, Sit Ups, etc, IF I perform them exactly the same way every time.  On top of that, I also get to improve my accuracy.  If I can perform 150 perfect, on target every rep Wall Ball shots while extremely exhausted, somehow shooting and qualifying at the rifle range becomes easier and easier and the 10x ring in the middle of my target gets shot out quicker and quicker.

If we continuously perform each repetition properly, no matter what the weight, we will see increased improvement across all of our lifts.  When we practice exercises with the PVC pipe, anyone of us could manipulate the bar anyway we like.  But if we are focusing on performing the correct movement and proper form, it should not matter if we are lifting with a PVC pipe, 45 lbs, 100 lbs, 200 lbs. it should look the same.

One last example; we perform push ups quite often at the gym and I see many variations, narrow, wide, high shoulders, etc.  Then we perform bench press and often the form is completely different.  Both these movements are similar, pushing weight away from the body (a funcitonal multi-joint movement).  Both these movements should look similar as well.  Both begin by having a tight, rigid, strong core, then extending you power that is generated into the arms.  If your core does not stay tight, you must attempt to generate the power in the extremities, the shoulders and arms, which leads to a loss in power, efficacy, and leads to potential injury.  I want to perform the bench press and push up with similar form, with arms close to the body. Doing so will not only improve my bench and push ups; but my ring dips, and my muscle ups, and my planches, and my bear crawls, and my burpees, and my ability to push someone away from me, be it for football, mixed martial arts, attackers, etc.

If we treat everything we do at the Compound as functional multi-joint movements, which is creating power in the hips and mid-section and extending out to the extremities, we will see major improvement in all exercises we perform, even when the exercise hasn't shown itself in several weeks or months. You guys are constantly improving and hopefully this post will help you improve even more with more concentrated effort.  cc

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I always look forward to your Sunday posts as I always learn something and it puts things into perspective for me. See you guys on Monday.