People participate in regular exercise for a variety of reasons. When doing so, most, if not all, who start any given exercise program do so in order to achieve a desired result, such as weight loss, endurance or performance training, injury prevention, rehabilitation, or the pure aesthetics and glory of looking good.
Most people are not exactly sure how to accomplish their goals or what type of training should be utilized in order to achieve the desired results. Your goals, physical limitations, muscle imbalances, time, commitment, and many other factors will influence the type of training in which you will and should be participating.
Frankly, no program is the same, nor is it designed to fit everyone. Marketing companies would like you to believe otherwise. Some of these tactics include fancy ads with sculpted bodies, weird and unsafe gadgets, and cool exercise program names designed to pump you up and make you believe they address your real issues when, in the end, they are most likely useless if not put together in a structured way.
Several years ago, I was introduced to the concept of human movement, popularized by many fitness gurus and experts. Today, human movement has been the backbone of my training programs. It doesn’t matters who I’m coaching – whether it’s a soccer athlete, a group of bootcampers, a fat loss program to someone with more physical limitations – I have found that, although a client’s program must be designed around his or her specific needs, all must be based on the “pillars of human movement”. And this concept is what I believe is missing in many training programs from the majority of people who go to the gym or exercise at home.
No matter what our ultimate goals may be, we must all address the issues of body mechanics, mobility issues, strength, and conditioning. Failure to do so will create an environment of muscle imbalance, lack of performance, and poor results, and may lead to injuries.
Human movement can be broken down into the following four categories:
(1) Locomotion: The act of moving from one place to another. This movement can take place in the form of running, walking, and jumping. However, keep in mind that if you are doing lots of forward-locomotion cardio on a machine or outdoors, you must still address other planes of motion such as lateral and reverse movements. Unfortunately, many people suffer injuries when changing direction and/or moving in lateral ways. So it’s important to consider all planes of motion in your training program. Exercises such as lateral drills and side lunges are great examples of such motion.
|Medicine Ball Squat|
(2) Level Change: Refers to a non-locomotor’s motion in which your body changes elevation. Level change can go from up to down or vice versa. An example would be bending down to pick something up or getting down to the floor. Exercises commonly used to describe this motion are the squat and dead lift. However, there is a combination of movement in pillars when referring to lunges and going up and down the stairs, such as Locomotion with Level Change.
|Full Push Up|
(3) Push/Pull: Push is to press (with arms or legs) on or against something with force to move it away. Pull, on the other hand, is to draw or haul (with arms or legs) something toward oneself. When it comes to exercise, selection balance is the key if you wish to avoid muscle imbalances. An example of this motion would be opening or closing a door. Exercises that describe a push motion would be a push up, an overhead press, a squat, or a leg press. Pulling exercises can include a pull up, any rowing motion, or hamstring curls. It is imperative to understand that pushing and pulling work against each other AND with each other. Therefore, proper and symmetrical training is encouraged in order to avoid muscle imbalance. Muscle imbalance can lead to problems such as rotator cuff injuries, back injuries, shoulder impingement.
|Twisting Bicycle Crunches|
(4) Rotation: The act of rotating or turning around as on an axis (in this case your spine is the axis). Rotation C is responsible for changes of direction and rotational production. Rotation is perhaps the most neglected of all pillars, but it is so important because most people spend their days sitting down or lying around and not training their torso stabilizers. Just think about how many muscles in your body need to rotate. Rotating is much more important that just getting rid of love handles, since it relates to almost every other movement patterns mentioned in the above three pillars. In either case, you must incorporate rotational exercises into your program. Examples of such are cable/band lateral rotations, woodchops, bicycle crunches and Russian twists.
When considering all four pillars of movement, one can notice the benefits of incorporating all of them together in an exercise program that will enhance functionality, strength, performance, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Most gym equipments are designed to have you sitting for for most exercise moves and typically favor only one of the pillars of movement which barely requires balancing, core strength, or overall functionality. Whether you are performing daily tasks, playing sports, or doing more strenuous exercise, your body requires movement: it goes up, down, forward, back, side to side and rotating. Therefore, performing exercises that enhance mobility and require you to move will give you better overall results, regardless of your fitness level and health goals.