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.

 

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.

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!

Our Trainer’s Aren’t Cheerleaders

At this gym you won’t find trainers that cheer you on to finish reps just to say you completed the set. Instead you’ll find trainers that coach you through the ins and outs of each rep to ensure your performing the exercise correctly.

You’ll be taught exercises specific to your body and what you need relative to the goals you have. You won’t be shown an exercise just to get your heart rate up and sweat pouring just to make you feel like you worked out hard.

We don’t see the point in getting your body moving fast and hard in the beginning, if you’re going to default to moving incorrectly and compensating your way through a movement. We take things slow to ensure that your brain and body are connecting on the same level and you’re learning how an exercise should feel, what muscles are working, and why you need to do it a certain way- when all your body wants to do is move through the path of least resistance, tricking your brain into thinking you’re doing it right.

So if you want learn how to exercise instead of just going through the motions (setting yourself up for pain and injury), book an initial consultation with our trainers today. This isn’t the Orange Theory’s, F45’s, CrossFit’s, or the Gold’s gyms of the city- we personalize our unique approach to training the human body. The way it was meant to be trained to prevent injuries and rehab existing ones, in the process of building strength and mobility that translates to the real world.

SAID Principle

Your body adapts to the demands you constantly place on it. This summarizes the science behind the SAID principle; Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. For example, by only doing squats for your lower body, your body adapts to this specific physical demand, but not to other patterns or environments for the lower body, like walking or running.

Another example can be if you sit for extended periods of time, your body will start to change and adapt its structure to the sitting environment that it’s constantly in. This makes it difficult to move correctly when you try to pick up your favorite recreational sport or hiking trail on the weekends, and leads to overuse on certain muscles and eventually pain or injury.

With only so many hours in the day, we all have minimal time to exercise. Which offers a unique opportunity to impose specific demands to counteract the effects of your normal environment. Meaning if you sit a lot, initially you’d want to choose exercises that promote trunk and hip extension, to work in opposition to the spinal kyphosis and hip flexion patterns of sitting. As opposed to sitting all day then getting on a bike and cycling; same pattern/demand as sitting. So nothing improves and your body further adapts your structure to your sitting environment. This can be a problem when you expect your body to perform like it always has.

Circle back to our initial example about squatting and the limits it places on your lower body function. The muscles of the lower body- glutes, quads, hip flexors, calves, plantar fascia, etc.- have all evolved to help the human structure walk and run. It wasn’t until the 1960’s-1970’s that Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized training the muscles outside of their intended functions and with exercise patterns that didn’t replicate the way the muscles worked together to produce human specific movement. A couple decades of consumers training the human body this way (coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle), led to a disassociation with our natural movement and one of the main reasons most people deal with some form of ache, pain, or injury. The body has adapted to exercises that don’t mesh with the way the body actually needs to move.

Whatever demand you put your body through repetitively, intensely, and subconsciously will be what your body is forced to adapt to. Make sure what you’re teaching your body has a carry over to the roots of your human function, so you can continue to move well, without pain, as you age.