Your Guide to Squats

It’s time to educate yourself on the relevance of the squat. Prioritizing this movement in your training routine when it makes up a small amount of daily movement, neglects movements that you do majority of the time, like walking. Think about it… outside of the gym how many times a day do you squat compared to how many steps you take?

We aren’t kangaroos, we’re humans. We move around by transferring our weight from one leg to another in a contralateral pattern. Whereas a squat is going to keep your legs confined to a bilateral position. We aren’t saying squats aren’t important, but in the real world when you need to bend over and pick something up it happens a fraction of the time, it usually doesn’t happen repetitively, and you’re doing it for a specific purpose that normally doesn’t make up your entire day (unless your job or sport requires that, but we’re talking about general function).

When you use the squat as an exercise, you’re performing it for numerous reps with the intent to build muscle and get stronger. The problem with using squats (or any bilateral/sagittal based exercise) as the bulk of your leg training is that you’re building arbitrary muscle mass, meaning it doesn’t serve a purpose. The strength you built doesn’t carry over outside of the squat pattern, so the way your body moves most (ie; walking) doesn’t have the support it needs.

Come train with our trainers to learn how to build muscle that aligns with it’s function. Carrying over the strength you build in the gym to a stronger body outside of the gym. You’re human, it’s time you start training like one.

Exercise Less?!

Exercise can be bad when we go through the motions of our default movement patterns. We just pack on more muscle imbalance that causes a subconscious stress on our mental and physical state, affecting our physiology. Then we cope with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, whatever dopamine fix we need to temporarily feel better. We enter the cycle of trying to outwork our coping behavior and beating our body up in the process, but we can only do that for so long until we feel “old” because our habits caught up with us.

Taking a few steps back to heal our body with intentional movement might not feel or look like society’s idea of exercise but it starts to retrain our brain and body to function better, promoting muscle mass that is symmetrical and “balanced” to help us respond to stress better. Then when our muscles are in balance we’re consciously and subconsciously able to handle stress more efficiently- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. and then we don’t feel the need to cope. Then it comes time to break out of the habits that we developed from coping that we no longer need.

This behavior change is painful and uncomfortable but time well spent and can start seeing changes in weeks for little things, months for some bigger things, and sometimes years for habits we’ve built over our entire lives. This is the change that helps our physical health- from muscle strength, weight loss/ weight maintenance, hormone balance- which in turn helps our mental health like anxiety, mood, depression, and the ability to not have to cope the way we used to. And when we do need to cope we are able to be more aware of what we’re doing and why, and maybe not even coping the same way we did in the past because our stress response is improving.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise, as most doctors and so called fitness experts will tell you that you need to eat less and move more to stay healthy. But if you move wrong and use your muscles in a state of imbalance then all of the above cataclysm of events happen- and that’s not healthy. You need to understand more about your body in order to make sure you behave in a way that promotes health. When you’re over exercising and under eating for so long, your body’s hormones get thrown out of whack and it makes it a lot harder to lose weight and body fat. You end up spinning your wheels trying to lose weight or build muscle but you’re fighting an uphill battle, up  a water slide. When you learn to fix your muscle imbalances when you “exercise” instead of just going through the motions of various movements, you’ll be able to address the subconscious stress on your body- aligning your posture and your hormones. This equates to a healthier body inside and, most importantly, outside of the gym!

Contact our gym to learn how our team can help you start and sustain your journey to a healthier you!

Step Into Our Functional Gym

What makes our training different from other gyms is that we don’t let you go through the motions of an exercise, just to say that you exercised.

We prioritize your posture during an exercise to activate muscles that are normally dormant, to support your body in a way that it normally doesn’t get supported.

So no matter where you’re at physically, your body can benefit from this type of training because it’s low impact, corrective, and sustainable.

This lets you build a foundation to progress from, without pain!

Hows That Working For You?

When you work hard in the gym, you expect the exercises you do to carry over to the real world. In the form of strength, flexibility, stamina, energy, health, and overall fitness.

For the genetically gifted ones it does, but what about the average folks who do what they’re supposed to do and still fall short? Why are they busting their butts every day at the gym but still can’t lose weight, still have joints that hurt, still not feeling strong or mobile? To answer those questions you have to ask what they’re doing. Are they really doing the right things or just doing what everyone else is doing and expecting to get lucky with their results. Or are they doing what worked for an athlete that was already born with overall better muscles, minimal body fat, and naturally fit?

If you’re already born that way, this post isn’t for you- you can keep doing what you’re doing and succeed in spite of what might be wrong for others. If you’ve tried everything but still can’t make progress then read on.

Our trainers work to address principles of health and fitness that often get overlooked, not given any thought at all, or are sometimes too hard at first to want to learn. The fact is every body is unique and what works for one person might have to be taught completely different to another body. Another little valued fact is that every body has a similar blueprint for how muscles are designed to function. If you don’t follow this blueprint then it’s hard to make progress that is sustainable. If you do follow it (with slight modifications for your individual needs) then you’re able to achieve the strength, flexibility, and fitness that you’re working toward. You need to work smarter not harder.

If you’ve been chasing after health and fitness for years or even decades, look in the mirror and ask yourself… “how’s this working out for me?” You can’t keep doing the same thing (exercises, eating habits, sleep, recovery, etc.) and expecting different results.

Personalized Personal Training

How it started; how it’s going.

Started with numerous issues, most notably was scapular dysfunction that contributed to pain in the upper traps.

The first exercise is conditioning the muscles of the shoulder girdle & thoracic spine to integrate instead of putting all the demand on the traps.

The second exercise is reinforcing the corrective mechanics and putting those muscle connections to work during movement.

The result is a better connected body that can disperse force through the kinetic chain and balance the workload for the muscles.

As we continue to clean up dysfunctional movement patterns, moving correctly will train the body to operate efficiently and handle the demands of the real world without pain and injury.

How Do You Feel?

The state that your body is in on a regular basis should be an indicator of how fit you are. Your body should feel good after taking on the demands placed on it. If you’re hurting, limping, stiff, and sore in the wrong places then your body is warning you that something is off. It’s best to listen to the warning signals before your body feels irreparable.

Another aspect to consider is how you feel during and after an exercise or an entire workout. Training should prepare your body for life outside of the training room. Obviously there is appropriate muscle soreness related to an exercise that targets a certain muscle, but soreness shouldn’t permeate into the joints. When your joints feel sore or stiff from exercise, a good possibility is that your muscles aren’t working properly and your joints are picking up the slack. There’s also exercises that exacerbate compression, meaning your muscles are working but the technical aspect of the exercise causes compressive forces throughout the body. This usually manifests as muscle soreness accompanied by stiffness and rigidness when you try to move.

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you know the importance of efficient movement. When your body can’t move optimally it starts to compensate and alter your mechanics. You need to have some rhythm when you move to transmit force evenly throughout your kinetic chain. When you’re rigid, your movement gets altered and your function isn’t optimal. Then the entire point of exercise is missed because you can’t handle the demands of the real world appropriately.

Functional Alternative to “Traditional” Glute Bridge

Why is this exercise superior to the traditional variation of the “bridge?”

This exercise is teaching muscles to contract the same way they do to support these joint positions in reality. Not necessarily this exact position, but the overall position of the joints relative to other joints.

For example, the problem with the traditional glute bridge is that it trains the hips to extend while the knees are in flexion- when in reality this joint position combo doesn’t happen. When your hips extend, your knees are also extended- so it’s important to match the exercise up with what happens in reality to condition your muscles the way they naturally work.

Google “glute bridge” and you’ll see the difference in the exercise pattern between the traditional technique and the functional technique. Basically speaking, when your hips lift up they are extended, and when your hips are extended in real world movements, your knees are also extended. Hence why we teach our clients to perform the glute bridge with the hips up and the knees straight. This way teaches your muscles to associate contractions with the way they contract in the real world, providing more muscle support for your joints inside and outside the gym.

Our team of Functional Patterns trainers do a phenomenal job educating you about why certain exercises don’t work the way we thought they did. Instructing you through functional alternatives that train your muscles to function properly with the rest of your body, in the context they’re supposed to work.

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.

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.

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.