Why Do YOU Exercise?

Most people exercise to stay in shape, often not realizing what that actually means. Is staying in shape about looking good, or feeling good? That’s subjective.

To our trainers, “staying in shape” means feeling good. And the looks usually follow. That means understanding why we exercise. It shouldn’t be because you’re beating your body up to outwork negative behavior, like overeating, being sedentary, or managing stress. When you first address the behavior that’s causing you to feel the need to exercise you can then begin to use exercise as a tool to address your physical function.

While exercise is a good behavior, it can also be used to cope. Like having stress run your life and instead of turning to drugs you use exercise. However this can lead to wear and tear on your body if you don’t address what’s causing the stress to begin with, because you become an adrenaline junkie chasing after the endorphins from an intense workout. The intensity causes wear on your joints and you can’t sustain it. So now that you can’t workout like you used to in order to “manage” your stress, you turn to food for comfort. Exacerbating the problem, and never addressing the root cause.

If you decide to modify behavior and get to the root of stress and the way your body responds to it, you can de-stress without having to workout. And then you enter the rare state of using exercise as a way to improve your function, performance, strength, and mobility, all while fixing your joint pain, muscle aches, body stiffness, and old injuries. So exercise becomes a sustainable habit and builds your body up, instead of breaking it down.

Learn to fix your behavior that’s leading you to use exercise as a drug and you’ll solve a lot of the problems holding you back physically and mentally. Our team is here to help guide you through the process!

Check out www.FunctionalPatterns.com for more information.

What Does Functional Training Look Like?

We often get asked “what exactly does your training look like?”

“Is it stretching?”

“Is it mobility work?”

“Is it rehab… or exercise?”

“Is it strength and conditioning?”

“Is it performance or injury prevention?”

Simply put, it’s all of the above!

When you move well, you are “stretching” parts of your body, while “strengthening” another.

Learning to move well also means that you learn to position your joints in a way to produce maximum mobility, while still being safe and beneficial for your body.

When you train your body to move well, you are in fact doing “rehab” while still building strength and training to perform better.

You can’t separate flexibility from strength and you certainly can’t separate rehab from performance either.

Training your body to separate those elements won’t get you long term physical wellbeing because your body operates as one complex system. Train it according, and if you can’t, we can!

Functional Resistance Training

Functional Patterns resistance training does not look the way resistance training looks in commercial gyms because traditional training isn’t functional. Pistol squats aren’t functional. Bench press isn’t functional. Deadlifts aren’t functional. How many times a day do you stop and squat on one leg, bench, deadlift, or do an isolated bicep curl when you’re moving in the real world? The muscles that these exercises train certainly function to help you move but not the way they’re being trained. It’s contextual. So you do need strong pecs and biceps as well as glutes and hamstrings but the way these muscles are being conditioned through traditional exercises doesn’t translate to how they need to function to help you move better in the real world. Your pecs and biceps help drive your arms and torso when you’re walking and strong glutes and hamstrings propel your pelvis and legs when you move. But since most of human movement is upright, on two legs, and horizontal in nature, vertical forces like squats, benches, and deads don’t have much transferability to realistic movements. Sure, those exercises will make you stronger but I say again, in what context? Are you squatting down the street or walking down the street?

The Way You Exercise

Recognize that the way you exercise has significant influence over your function and fitness, and your dysfunction and pain. Training like what you see in the mainstream gym culture likely produces the same results- decrepit posture, lower back pain, a knee brace, etc. Movement that replicates the mechanics of the way the human body moves day to day, has carry over to life outside of the gym. Ergo, pain free recreational activities and sports, no joint stiffness or muscle tightness, and an overall freedom to move!

Functional Training

Your functional capacity is a byproduct of your exercise regimen, or lack thereof. Lifting weights up and down to build big muscles is shortsighted when you don’t consider the function of the muscle.

Muscle mass built on a compromised structure turns into dysfunctional muscle because its main function(s) isn’t its only job anymore. It’s having to hold your body upright in positions that aren’t preferable but it’s stuck there, because you have trained the muscle to associate its function “this way” instead of the way nature intended.

Lift weights to train your muscles in the context that your body uses them most. You walk on a daily basis, so a unilateral stance progressed with stepping patterns translates more to reality than a squat because you’re learning how to transfer and distribute weight every rep with a step, as opposed to keeping your feet fixed in one plane during the simplicity of a squat.

Is the way your train relevant for what you want your body to be capable of, in life outside of the gym?

Mindful vs. Mindless Exercise

More humans are starting to recognize and adopt the importance of regular exercise and general movement in their daily lives. With an increase in technology, transportation, and general automation there is less of a social requirement for being physically fit. However there is still, and always will be, a physical requirement for being fit and functional. If you are not, your body will let you know, in the form of aches and pains. Pain is not a normal sense that your body should become used to or learn to live with just because you’re getting older. Yes you may be getting older, but it’s important to realize that you’re not feeling worse as you age because another year has passed, you may be feeling worse because you’re moving less, moving inefficiently, exercising arbitrarily, and contributing to a poor posture with the exercise and lifestyle habits that you’ve created as the years pass.

It’s fair to say that age is only a number, and how you live your daily life is going to influence how you feel, no matter your age, or your physical condition. The human body is long over do for a relevant way of training that promotes wellbeing in life outside of the gym. Mindlessly exercising for the sake of performing a specific exercise better and getting stronger at a particular lift is irrelevant when it comes to enhancing your overall function in life outside of the gym. Sure, there is some carry over to general strength if you lift weights, but the carry over is minimal and the rate of injury or unexplained pains (“I’m just getting ‘older'”) usually increases. Unless you’re a genetically gifted human, the way most of the population trains is damaging in the long run.

Most of us know that weight machines are like training wheels for your bicycle and don’t really serve much of a purpose other than isolating muscles, but why would you spend time in the gym isolating muscles, when in reality, your muscles are programmed to integrate as a unit to facilitate movement. Hence the arbitrary, irrelevant way of training that the fitness industry has mis-created. Even the free weights are misused by most gym goers because the lifting patterns don’t respect human evolution- ie; walking, running, and throwing. The muscles of the human body were designed around these fundamental functions and every rep that you do of an exercise that doesn’t enhance these functions is detrimental in the long run. Detrimental to your overall health and wellness, from knee pain to poor digestion.

Most exercises prescribed in the commercial gym culture and traditional physical therapy practices is patch work for a failing structure. When gravity is compressing you all day long and then you go and squat with a bar on your back, that exercise only adds to the compression or your vertebral discs and eventually lead to overall compression- from your visceral organs (hence, poor digestion) to your muscles and tendons being a compressed mess (hence chronic muscle tightness and stiffness). If you can learn how to decompress as you exercise (hint: Sling Training) then you’re becoming more efficient at movement that matters and your body becomes less compensatory- physically and physiologically. No amount of digestive enzymes, knee braces, or arbitrary exercise will fix your body and your body’s problems, it will only treat the symptoms. Much like a band-aid on a gun shot wound would work…

If you’re the kind of person who priorities their health and wellness and wants to genuinely fix whatever issues you’re dealing with, whether chronic and nobody has been able to help, or acute and you are looking for long term relief, contact us today. Our consultation/ evaluation process is low cost and worth your time to evolve the way you exercise, recover, and live. We’ll teach you the difference between exercising to exercise, and utilizing exercises that actually translate your time spent in the gym, to being adequately prepared to adapt your body to the ever changing environment outside of the gym.

Aesthetics vs. Athletics

When we hear the word athletics, we automatically think of Michael Jordan or Emmitt Smith, individuals capable of accomplishing great movements with their bodies. But you don’t have to be an elite athlete to train your body to move better. When we only think about working out to get a six-pack or bigger biceps, because the magazines tell us that’s what we should look like, we miss the opportunity for exercise to enhance our quality of life. Rather than moving in respect to our human anatomy we contort our bodies and make ourselves so sore that we can barely walk the next day or can’t get on and off the toilet.

Human anatomy dictates the way our body functions based on the way our muscles connect with each other. The less connected your muscles are during movement the more likely your chance of injury is. Since all of our muscles are connected they never work independently, so isolating your body when you workout can potentially disrupt your muscle connections and cause your body to compensate when you move. When you move, your body is conditioned to absorb force in your joints instead of transmitting the force through a connected web of muscles. It’s like your muscles are clocking out early every day and your joints are working over time without pay, because isolated exercises utilize your joints as levers instead of transmitting force through our muscle chains. The goal with exercise should be to connect one chain of muscle with another through reciprocation, since human movement entails reciprocal forces, like opposing limbs uniting when we walk. The more your muscles work in harmony with each other, the more efficient your body will move, decreasing the likelihood of injuries, aches, and pains.

Since we all walk, an exercise like the barbell squat won’t translate as efficiently to the patterns we use on a consistent basis. The glutes developed primarily through walking and running mechanics so for most humans, squatting isn’t the most efficient way to condition your glutes for real world use. If you’re intent is to develop strength through lifting free weights then make sure the strength you develop can be transferable to other scenarios. You limit yourself by getting really strong at a particular lift but the only time you can apply that strength is when you’re performing that exercise. When you’re out with friends, walking your dog, or running errands, strength manifests in the form of comfort that you have in that scenario. If you’re standing in a group of friends and you can’t stand without leaning against a wall or shifting your weight from one leg to another, you have no relative strength- your strength only manifests when you’re in the gym doing your exercise. If fitness is meant to enhance our lives then why would you want your hours spent working hard in the gym to only apply to when you’re in the gym? Not all functional training is truly functional and when you’re trying to function and exist in the real world on a daily basis your body should be prepared.

When you exercise, prioritizing Functional Patterns of movement will condition your body for operating in reality. Training for athletics, or the goal of moving better, will outweigh the benefits of training only for aesthetics, a goal of only looking better. Working out to just build a bigger chest and arms, without taking into consideration that too much muscle mass can lead to imbalances in the body, can become disastrous for how well your body can move. Exercise patterns should mirror the mechanics of how humans move. A foundational human movement is walking, so when you exercise to only look better naked, you neglect the basic principle that the body is designed to move outside of the confines of weight machines and exercises that restrict force transmission through the entire web of muscles. Once the muscles are conditioned to support your body when you walk, without compensations like swaying hips, knees turning in, arms not moving, or a tilted ribcage, other movements, inside and outside of the gym, are streamlined. So, by addressing the way your body moves when you walk, other movements like playing ball with your friends, running a 5k, playing tennis or golf, and performing exercises that respect human body mechanics, are automatically improved.

Athletic training and aesthetic training can go hand in hand, when all systems of the body are operating in harmony, less energy is wasted and more muscle tissue is utilized, so eventually your goal of looking better naked will be achieved. The more muscles that you can integrate into one rep, the more energy you expend, so more calories are being burned per workout. Pair that with the proper nutritional habits, and it’s an efficient recipe for weight loss. Weight loss that comes as a result of better body mechanics and natural movement, not beating your body up with traditional weight lifting that leaves you hurting and injury prone so you’re unable to workout and the weight just piles on. Respect the way your body was designed to operate and keep yourself in the game so that you can move well and sustain a healthy weight for the entirety of your life.