Most training and rehab methodologies have oversimplified the mechanics of the human body. When in reality, moving well is complex. We know that if you move well, your likelihood of injury decreases and developing pain from long term compensation diminishes because the body isn’t out of balance when you move. So to simply think that lifting weights is going to make you strong without any negative consequences is shortsighted. It boils down to how you “lift weights” and we aren’t talking about your form on a bench press or a dumbbell raise. We mean how your body looks when you’re lifting. Are you doing simple exercise to stimulate a muscle but then not teaching that muscle how to function when you, as a human, move (upright, on 2 legs).
It goes deeper than just this mindset and these arbitrary exercises:
Want strong glutes? —> do squats.
Want strong arms? —> do bicep curls.
Strong hamstrings? —> deadlifts.
Shoulder pain? —> banded scapula retractions.
This issues with these movements is that you almost never find them in real life.
Think about it for a minute.
How many times do you squat or deadlift when you run or play sports?
How many times do you isolate a bicep curl when you’re in your day to day life?
These exercise can make your muscles “stronger” but what ensures that those muscles will actually perform their job when you need them most during daily demands?
So if you want to build strong glutes and turn to an exercise like the squat as your main lift, then you’re not training your glutes to be functional, the way they need to be to move your body. When you walk, you’re upright on 2 legs and both legs alternate bearing weight and help push off the ground to move you forward. If we were kangaroos then an exercise like the squat might carry over more to life outside the gym, but if you look at the traditional squat all it provides is an exercise to make you feel like you’re working out. It doesn’t offer single leg weight bearing, weight transfer during movement, and the worst is that it builds your glutes through an up and down (vertical) motion instead of the horizontal motion that your glutes should be using when you walk or run. So if you rely on squats and think they’re your staple to build strong glutes, think again. They’re only building strong glutes to squat and while humans do squat it’s usually not repetitious and only for a few moments to complete a task. What is repetitive on the flute muscles in walking and so if you don’t build your glutes in that context then you lose your ability to walk well over time. And if you think about it, humans were born to walk. Babies squat before they learn the complex motor skills to walk because squatting is simple to coordinate. When it comes time to walk, more muscles (besides the glutes) contract to produce the motion and when your muscles lose touch with their fundamental functions then your body begins to fall into compensatory patterns and pain and injuries eventually set in. Of all the thousands of steps you take in a day (versus all the squats required of you in a day) the best way to build strong muscles and a strong body is to use exercise to enhance what you do most. To get better at the necessary functions of human movements, then if you want to squat you can work that in later as an accessory exercise. But it won’t look the way you used to train squats, with a bar on your back or a dumbbell between your arms as you squat down. A functional squat is one that respects the weight distribution of human mechanics, the reciprocal actions of muscle chains, the integrative actions of other muscles, and the timing of certain principles that circle back to human function.
So as you train the way you train, ask yourself; is this really paying off in my day to day function or am I just exercising for the sake of exercising? Do my muscles learn to behave more optimally as it relates to the way I move in life outside the gym or am I just packing on useless muscle mass that doesn’t function to help me move?