Functional Fitness Part 2

We know by now that our body is one integrated unit, so repetitive movements that isolate it into sections cause disconnections throughout your kinetic chain. In our previous post Functional Fitness Part 1 we highlighted some exercise techniques that get a lot of hype, but don’t necessarily deliver the most bang for your buck. In this post we’ll explain why we believe there are better methods to ensure prolonged health and fitness for your body.

We know that the human body evolved to walk upright on both legs, so regressing your training to crawling movements won’t help your daily function. Yes, you’ll feel your muscles working and your brain will think you’re doing something good for your body, but since we don’t walk on our hands our shoulders need a different kind of support relative to our legs. So crawling movements won’t enhance or coincide with the functions of human movement discussed in our previous post- standing, walking, running, and throwing.

HIIT workouts are stressful on your body, and too much stress spikes cortisol and makes it hard to lose fat anyway (plus it’s cumbersome on your joints and hard to sustain for more than a few weeks without some form of pain or injury). So if you’re doing HIIT workouts to lose weight, do the longevity of your body a favor, and stop eating so much. Then just exercise to stimulate muscle tissue in a manner than mimics the way it functions in the real world, so you can sustain your fitness as you age.

Powerlifting can make you stronger but usually at the expense of hernias, stress fractures, disc herniations, torn tendons and ligaments, and compression on your spine. So it’s high risk, low reward because once you injure yourself it’s hard to recovery back to 100%. And in reality why do we need to lift such heavy objects? Humans have developed brains to work smarter not harder. We’ve developed pulley systems, levers, and machines to move objects and do the heavy lifting for us. Compared to other animals, like a silver back guerrilla, we are extremely weak. So the next time you need to move a piece of furniture use a friend to help, or on those rare occasions when you need to move a big rock or firewood, use a wheelbarrow. And get strong at what you do most, standing, walking, running, and throwing. This will help cultivate strength that you can use without damaging your joints.

We share these thoughts to spread relevant information about the human body and the repercussions of the way we treat it. If you like what you do and your body feels okay, keep doing it. But if not, we offer an alternative way to train and sustain your health and fitness.

*Hint; check out the picture from this post, and our last one. Compare how confined the squat pattern is, versus the running one. The bar on the back causes compression, and the running (assuming your joints are adequate- we can help with that) can engage the entire body through horizontal force distribution and create strength and mobility that you can use more often.

Functional Fitness Part 1

Functional training can mean different things to different people. In our gym, it means exercising to coincide and enhance your body’s natural movements- like walking, running, lifting objects, standing, and navigating daily demands without pains or injuries limiting your function.

Humans innate biology designed us to stand, walk, run, and throw. These functions shaped our muscles and the way our muscles work. This is why our trainers prioritize exercises that match these types of movements. The outcome is a well connected, strong, and mobile body that can withstand the demands of the real world, because real life enforces these mechanics consistently. As opposed to movements like crawling (not a regular function after we learn to walk), burpees (beating your body up to burn calories from overeating), step aerobics (repetitive strain on your knee joints), spin classes (conditioning your hips to be stuck in flexion, like sitting all day) , or powerlifting (not the same demand as lifting an object because the barbell limits your range of motion).

If you like disconnecting your legs from your upper body during spin class, overdoing HIIT classes to punish your body from overeating, using your lumbar spine as a lever during powerlifting, or just like acting like an animal and crawling around the floor- then you do you. BUT if you’re only doing these types of things because you’ve been told they’re healthy or they’re going to help you, then stop and reconsider how your body actually functions (standing, walking, running, throwing) and if these types of exercises are reinforcing these functions or causing dysfunction.

Stay tuned for our next post as we elaborate further on these different modalities.

Evolutionary Muscles

Throwing is an integral function that shaped human’s innate musculature.

The same way we developed muscles from running to survive, we developed muscles from throwing spears to kill prey and feed ourselves.

For example, the chest muscles developed from throwing and not pushups or bench presses, the same way the glutes developed from running and not squats and leg presses.

Evolutionary characteristics played a defining role in what are muscles look like and how they function. Training is best for the human body when the exercises respect the blueprint of how our muscles work to move us.

This allows exercise to translate outside of the training room into sports, performance, and everyday function.

Learn how you can benefit from exercising in respect to your natural function, with our team of Functional Patterns Biomechanics Specialists.

Vanity Training

The problem with exercising exclusively for how you look without addressing how you function, is it’s not sustainable.

Just like a car that isn’t working, a new coat of paint won’t fix the problem under the hood.

The new paint job will make it look good, but eventually it will break down and you’ll have to admire the paint job without using the car.

Eventually the new paint job will rust because you’ll neglect the car that you can’t drive.

Just like a body that “looks good” but you can’t do anything with it. The looks you busted your butt for will fade because your body is in too much pain, injured, and broken to actually put in the work to keep your body looking good.

If you pursue functional mechanics when you exercise, the exercise will carry over long after you’re done working out. Your body will feel good, you’ll be able to move well, and your body will look good as a result of proper training. Training that is sustainable and supports the complexities of the human body.

Alignment 101

The position of (fill in the blank) influences the rest of your alignment. Because our body is interconnected, one structure’s alignment will influence another’s. For example when your pelvis is out of alignment, it pulls your spine out of its natural alignment. The spine’s position effects the position of your ribcage, head and neck, as well as further down your chain in your knee and ankle joints. Basically your center of gravity is thrown off.

When you’re misaligned, muscles pull you in directions you otherwise wouldn’t be in, to fight for “balance” and trick your brain into thinking everything’s positioned where it needs to be. You’re alignment (or lack of) influences how well you stand and move, and that influences how your body responds to its environment, functionally or dysfunctionally. The latter leads to pain and injury.

The Kinetic Chain

MUSCLE INTEGRATION MAKES UP EFFICIENT MOVEMENT. THIS IS BECAUSE ALL OF OUR MUSCLES ARE LINKED THROUGH THE KINETIC CHAIN. IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT HAPPENS IN ONE AREA OF THE BODY HAS A DIRECT OR INDIRECT EFFECT ELSEWHERE.

THE POWER OF THE KINETIC CHAIN CAN MAKE MOVEMENT THERAPEUTIC BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE KNEE PAIN, THE PAIN COULD BE CAUSED BY WEAK GLUTES. SO BY STRENGTHENING THE GLUTES, YOU RESOLVE YOUR KNEE PAIN.

IMAGINE YOUR KINETIC CHAIN LIKE A ROW TEAM, WHEN ALL YOUR TEAMMATES ARE ROWING AND DOING THEIR PART, THE BOAT MOVES WITH LESS EFFORT. BUT WHEN ONE OF THE ROWERS ISN’T DOING THEIR JOB, IT PUTS MORE RESPONSIBILITY ON THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE TEAM. THE TEAM GETS TIRED FASTER, BECAUSE EACH MEMBER GETS OVER WORKED,

WHEN LINKS ARE WEAK AND NOT DOING THEIR JOB (LIKE THE ROW TEAM ANALOGY), MOTOR COMPENSATIONS DRIVE YOUR MOVEMENTS. WHEN YOU DON’T MOVE WITH OPTIMAL MECHANICS YOU RISK INJURY AND REPETITIVE  DYSFUNCTIONAL MECHANICS LEAD TO PAIN.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET YOUR KINETIC CHAIN LINKED UP AND FUNCTIONING LIKE A ROW TEAM THATS IN SYNCH. WHEN YOU EXERCISE IN A WAY THAT ADDRESSES THE WHOLE SYSTEM AND THE WAY IT INTERCONNECTS, YOU BUILD MUSCLE FOR THE WAY YOUR BODY IS GOING TO USE IT IN REAL WORLD CONDITIONS.

 

How To Move Better

Tension built in the muscles takes pressure off the joints, ligaments, and bones and allows the muscles and tendons to work as the support system for the body.

This all sounds ideal, especially if you’re someone suffering from pain and restrictive movement because of pain. However it’s not guaranteed to happen if you do exercises that compress your structure. Squatting with a bar on your back causes compression on you vertebrae, bench pressing limits the range of motion of your shoulder girdle and disconnects the pec muscles from the powerful oblique muscles, deadlifting causes your lower posterior chain to work but neglects the upper and causes your lumbar spine to overwork.

All of these are very common exercises that are prescribed to build strength, but often what you aren’t aware of is it’s at the expense of your joints, spine, bones, and ligaments. The physics behind these movements causes the muscles to load exclusively through one direction of force, whereas in reality, the same muscles are constantly being used through multiple angles of force.

There are a few problems with this way of training. The movements themselves don’t allow the force to be balanced out through other angles, and so while the muscles are being worked, the nearby joints and ligaments are also being strained. The movements also don’t allow other muscle chains to integrate with the targeted muscles, which leads to overuse and fascial disconnection from the rest of the chain. Finally, since the movements only train one force at a time, when you go to use your body in the real world, the muscles aren’t thoroughly prepared to be resilient against the multiple forces acting on it.

These movements do make your muscles stronger, but only within the context of the exercise itself. Once your body is off the bench, or the bar isn’t on top of it, your muscles have not been conditioned to withstand other forces. Additionally your muscles have not been conditioned through integration and all the built in connections are not linked efficiently so muscles are working on their own to help support you. Like you’re in a canoe with a group and you’re the only one doing all the paddling- the group should work together to make the paddling easier and the water more enjoyable. Your muscles should learn to work the same way.

Another point to consider is that the exercises themselves cause strain on the joints, ligaments, and bones from the dysfunctional mechanics during the movement. But the exercises can indirectly affect the joints, ligaments, and bones later down the road, by not offering the right support from your muscles when you move in the real world. In other words, the exercises aren’t preparing your body for reality.

Exercise should be used to build resiliency to life outside of the gym. This concept is one that our trainers always remind our clients of when we teach them exercises that align with this principle. The result is a stronger body, leading to less pain and old injuries being resolved in the process.

Come to our gym and learn what is best for your body and how you should be exercising to promote longevity and sustain your fitness.

How Do You Train Your Pecs?

Did you know your chest muscles (the pecs) dominate movements like punching, throwing, and even running?

The pecs were designed for these functions via human evolution- throwing spears, pumping the upper body when running from danger, and fighting for survival.

These muscles also connect into multiple kinetic chains and when we move, they function together with the rest of the chain to produce more power and efficiency. For example, the pecs share functions with the nearby oblique muscles and function more often through rotational mechanics, like throwing, instead of exclusively pressing motions.

Traditional chest training like the bench press and pushups will make your pecs stronger, but not the rest of the chain your pecs connect to. Therefore you’re only strong at the bench press and not functional activities that require you to use your pecs the way they were designed.

The bench press is one exercise we were taught to make our chest stronger, but the chest predominately functions in different patterns than the bench. When we go to use our pecs the way nature designed them, but we’re unnaturally training them, they aren’t prepared for reality and injury risk goes up.

Come work with trainers who know the way your muscles need to be trained, and how to teach exercises that go hand in hand with their natural function(s). At our gym, your muscles are prepared for real life so your body can function without pains and injuries, the true meaning of strength.

Action shots from our hard working clients

All ages and stages of life working with our trainers to learn how to improve their biomechanics, to move better in life outside the gym!


The only gym in San Antonio certified to teach your body Functional Patterns!


Our trainers teach exercises that go hand in hand with your body’s natural movement. Allowing your muscles to get strong, mobile, pliable, and supportive simultaneously!


Most importantly, the gains made in the gym translate to life outside of the gym. Achieve real world strength to help your body everyday. Whether you’re looking to improve your general fitness, prevent injuries, rehab existing ones, or manage chronic pain- our gym is your one stop shop!

Hydration

Staying hydrated goes deeper than drinking enough water.
If you’re going to the bathroom every hour after drinking, it means your cells and muscle tissues aren’t absorbing any of the fluid. Likely because they’re stagnant and unable to conduct a current because they lack proper muscle contraction.

Imagine your tissues like a dried up, crusty wash rag you use to clean your body. When it’s dried up it doesn’t work well, but when you wet it, it becomes pliable again and able to function and get those hard to reach places. The dried up rag is like dehydrated muscle tissue, when your muscles are dehydrated they don’t work well. When your muscles don’t work well the contribute to more strain on your joints and overuse of other muscles. To get water to the muscles, you need to learn how to move better so that your muscles start contracting in places that they normal don’t (dehydrated stagnant tissue getting hydrated), when these more efficient contractions start happening more fluid is pumped to the tissues and they become hydrated, pliable, and ready to work better.

Try this; if you have any areas on your body that feel tight or restricted, palpate them like you’re trying to massage them and see how they feel. Compare to the same muscle on the other side of your body. If they’re dehydrated they’ll likely feel hard, misshapen, and not a lot of give to them. Whereas a muscle that’s hydrated you can sink into when you poke it, the contours of the muscle will feel smoother, and the shape of the muscle is full. Think about it as “stiff” vs. “gooey.”

To learn more, check out our latest post on Social Media or our “Fascia” Highlights on Instagram for a full video breakdown!