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.

How To Get Strong

Lifting more weight is a measure of strength, BUT not if your body is compensating around weaknesses and avoiding certain functions. The real feat is getting your body to do what it doesn’t want to do, to develop muscles that aren’t developed- unlocking functional strength that translates to better biomechanics.

The more weight you lift can make you stronger but if you don’t address the way your body compensates (consciously and subconsciously) to make it easier, then you’re just compounding dysfunctional tendencies. For example, when you curl heavy weight your biceps are working but your hips might be shifting forward to use momentum to help your arms lift the weight. When your hips are shifting forward, your lumbar spine is forced to act as a lever and compression builds in your lumbar vertebrae from repetitive misuse.

Getting your body to do what it doesn’t want to do might mean lifting less weight, but your structure is able to address its weak links and that is where strength originates. The sturdier your structure, stationery and in motion, the more concentrated force you can accumulate to produce power, without compromising form and causing pain.

Without feeling what we’re describing, you simply don’t know what we’re talking about. You have to feel it to know it. When you experience a properly executed exercise for the first time, and you’re shaking, sweating, breathing heavy, elevating your heart rate, and fatiguing muscles in regions that usually don’t activate… and you haven’t even touched a weight yet, you’ll know you’re fighting against your weaknesses. After all, if exercise is easy then you’re just going through the motions and defaulting to your body’s comfort zone. And that really isn’t getting you stronger the way you think it is. Exposing your dysfunctions and addressing those weaknesses will result in strength, without pain, spinal compression, joint aches, and injuries coming along for the ride.

Set up your initial workout with one of our trainers to start building functional strength, without setting yourself up for pain and injury down the road.

Reciprocity

What goes up, must come down, what goes left, goes right. Basic principles that can be used to train functions for the body, specifically with exercises that reinforce basic human movement patterns.

One pattern that accounts for moving your body is referred to as contralateral reciprocation. It’s primarily explained as your arms and legs working in uniform opposition- right arm swings forward as your left leg kicks back, and vice versa with the arm and leg on the other side of your body, to rhythmically propel yourself through space.

Watch any person walk or run (and even throw) and you’ll see reciprocal functions taking place throughout their body. Ipsilaterally and contralaterally. It’s a trait that the human body has developed as a result of its movement patterns.

Since the human body primarily operates through a series of reciprocal actions, you can use the principle of reciprocity and apply it to exercises in a way that replicates how the body moves in reality.

Realistically, walking is a, taken for granted, movement that your body does the most. If you want to get “strong” in a way that matters for the world you’re living in, get better at strengthening your body to master the mechanics behind walking, and running… (and throwing). That way you built your body to be resilient for what it endures on a daily basis, and to better withstand the damage from gravity and the force it places on your body.

Let’s reign this back in to, the title of this post: Reciprocity, and why it’s a piece of the puzzle to overall better movement.

If you study the patterns of human movement you’ll find that the body is constantly reciprocating, from basic examples like agonist and antagonist muscles- as one muscle contracts, the one opposite of it it, stretches. And the  timing of the inhale and exhale of your breathing mechanics. Then to the mechanics of contralateral reciprocation like walking, sprinting, kicking, punching, a golf swing, even a baseball pitch. And to more advanced reciprocation, like the micro sequences within oppositional motion. Like the Yin and the Yang, without one, you’d have too much of the other, and that would throw out the balance.

Let’s circle that back to exercise and “training” the body. Training doesn’t always need to be referred to as physical. With the right kind of exercise you should be training your brain and body, and using stimuli to condition the desired response you want for your body, or brain. If you understand that mechanisms in the body work in reciprocation then you can use exercise as form of stimuli to condition more harmony within the body. Exercises that revolve around the principles within gait (walking, running, throwing) involve contralateral reciprocation patterns of movement that communicate to the brain, that the body is in harmony with its biology- how humans evolved to move.

Think about it this way- an upright chest press, with a step, is reinforcing movement patterns that align with human movement, and reconditioning the neuromuscular system to achieve a more rewarding response. Versus, squatting with a bar on your neck, and lifting the weight up and down, or using a dumbbell to pump out 20 reps of curls for big arms- with no regard to what’s going on with the rest of your body. Have you consider that because the body works in harmony and integrates muscles to work synergistically at once, that isolating one muscle to work one at a time, creates disconnections in your neuromuscular system. So, which form of exercise do you think would create more symbiosis versus division in the body? No more Yin and Yang together.

While there is still much more to account for in terms of exercising, training, principles, function, and reciprocity, this was written with the intent to create a different way to think about exercise. And the effects it has on your body, function, wellbeing, and longevity. As we learn more about the human body and how it operates, we can finally become more intelligent with the way we exercise. No longer for sport or ego, because those aren’t healthy for your body and more importantly you can’t sustain the behavior.  So you spend a few years looking good, maybe even feeling good without joint pain, but eventually it’ll catch up to you and you won’t be able to move, you’ll hurt, you’ll put on weight, turn to dysfunctional behavior for comfort, and enter the hard to get out cycle of self sabotage. What if you could use exercise to get healthier as you age? Not to look good like when you were younger but to feel youthful, energized, and functional like when you were younger! It’s a red pill to swallow but one that can be rewarding in terms of wellbeing as you age. All the fears and self fulfilling prophecies of hip replacements, back pain, and immobile joints can all be avoided, if you decide to train smarter instead of harder. Set yourself up for the long run. The world needs strong and capable humans!

Yours in Health,

Michael

Always Injured?

If your personal trainer is always injured and they’re teaching you how to work around your injuries without achieving pain free status and return to full function, it’s time to consider that your trainer doesn’t know how to train the intricacies of the human body.

Maybe they’re just a meathead that likes to workout and they’re okay being injured because they think it makes them look cool or tough. But you shouldn’t have to work around their shortcomings. Get yourself a trainer that aims to be better as a trainer for themselves, so they can be a better trainer for you!

Our trainers work through fixing their own muscle dysfunctions, rehabbing old injuries, and finding solutions to nagging aches and pains so they can learn what works for them and break it down in another way to teach their clients that are dealing with the same issues, how to resolve them!

The old saying, “you are who you hang out with” can be said similarly to reflect your fitness. You’re only as “strong,” “functional,” “pain free,” “limitless,” fill in the blank with your own goals, as your trainer. In other words, if your trainer is always hurting somewhere (and it’s not getting better) it means that what they are doing for their own body isn’t worth pursuing because it’s going to lead you down that same path eventually.

In this day in age a skilled personal trainer can also serve your body with the rehabilitation that it needs to get back to working properly. When your body works properly it obtains function that helps it operate without having to avoid certain activities due to pain or injuries restricting its movement.

If your trainer can only give you a workout session- getting your heart rate up, making you sweat, fatiguing your entire body (joints included), by working out around pain and injuries, that’s not going to solve your physical problems. What do you think is going to happen? That magically your body will eventually heal when your trainer hasn’t paid any attention to the areas that need healing, and need very specific detailed work…

Our trainers pay attention to the details to get you off the sidelines and back into the game! Restoring your functions that your body needs to exist and live the life you want, without suffering from pain and being debilitated with an injury. Once the little details are taught and your body’s motor system understand what to do, then we can get your body sweating, your heart rate pumping, and your muscles working and fatiguing in the right places to give you that “good” workout- without avoiding your problems, causing something the flare up, or risking an injury- because your body has been thoroughly prepared!

If you want to workout and simultaneously rehab your body for your future benefit, then ditch the trainer that’s working around the issues that matter to your body in life outside of the gym, and try your introductory session with one of our trainers! Just like when you try on multiple outfits when you shop, or test drive multiple cars before you buy, not all trainers are created equal. Shop around until you find the right one that helps you work through the nitty gritty to fix your physical limitations and achieve pain free function!

A Different Kind Of Gym

What makes our gym different from other gyms? Why do our trainers utilize the Functional Patterns training system? We’ll answer that by looking at the way humans were conditioned through evolution.

Over millions of years the human body evolved to do 4 things with precision, that other animals can’t do. As humans, we stand upright on both legs, we walk and run upright on both legs, and we throw overhead.

These functions were necessary for survival- running from predators, throwing spears to kill prey and feed ourselves, and walking long distances to migrate to better climates, all while standing upright.

As a result of these movements in our early years, our muscles learned to contract a specific way to support these necessary actions and the repetitive contractions shaped our muscles and gave them the tone that we have today.

The reason our trainers learn and teach Functional Patterns is because the foundation of this training system, recognizes and respects these 4 fundamental functions with all of the exercises. It’s a system that was created for humans that reinforces the way the human body evolved to move and exist.

As we train these fundamental functions, our bodies learn to move in line with our ancestral movement patterns. The result is strength on a wide scale because the body is learning to create muscle to support the way it moves everyday- the same way humans have moved everyday for several million years.

We run into trouble when we perform exercises that break the mold that shaped us. Our muscles learn functions that it doesn’t need and forgets functions that supports the way the body naturally moves. This results in aches, pains, and injuries because the body is out of its element and muscles fight through and compensate in ways they didn’t evolve to.

Working out, exercising, training, lifting, whatever you want to call it should NOT cause pain or only make you strong in the gym. It should enhance your natural functions, so other functions come along for the ride, and without all the drama. It’s not normal to wake up with aches every day, live with pain, or chronically work around injuries.

The right kind of training (backed by the 4 fundamental human functions) will provide strength, mobility, and endurance for any scenario. Once your body is functional (by the above standards), that function carries over to activity, performance, and general movement to support your body without fearing pain or risking injury. That is what fitness is.

If you want to be functional and fit for your life apart from the gym, now and in the long run, train with the above in mind. If you need help figuring out what exactly that means, and you want to feel what an exercise feels like when executed correctly, instead of just copying the movement from YouTube or a “fitness” app then contact us today. Call, stop by, or book online to try your first introductory session!

The Only Gym In San Antonio With…

We’re the only gym in SA to offer a 25 FOOT pulley machine to train the specifics of the human body in motion. This new piece of equipment allows our trainers and their clients to truly test their body’s function!

This pulley machine has a 25 foot cable length and provides resistance for dynamic exercises that mirror walking and running. Plus other aspects of human motion like rotating and throwing. This cutting edge piece of equipment will allow us to continue treating clients with pain, compression, scoliosis, joint restrictions, movement impairments, muscle atrophy, joint replacement rehab, athletic performance, injury prevention, general function, better movement, and more!

Call us today to set up your initial consultation with one of our Human Biomechanics Specialists! 210-947-4597 or safunctionalfitness.com

How To Prevent Pain When Exercising

Age is not only a product of time, but also lifestyle choices. How you live your life now, manifests when you’re 30, 40, 60, 80, etc.

Those achey knees from barbell back squats or faulty running mechanics may worsen and require a knee replacement when you’re 50. But it’s not because you’re getting older, it’s because time is catching up with you from the way you behaved/lived/exercised leading up to your present age.

Experiencing pain or a hurt [insert joint here] after activity is your body telling you something’s wrong. It’s not about pushing past it with the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Push past your ego and admit your body isn’t the specimen you thought… and get to work on fixing the problem.

If you’re trying to live the life you want, pay attention to the little details that cumulate over your lifetime. That bum ankle slowly causes dysfunction further up the chain and 5-10 years later you wonder why you can’t function and perform like you used to.

Remove yourself from the injury cycle of exercising foolishly, hurting yourself, not exercising for several weeks, then going too hard for your body to keep up, making the old injury worse, sitting out for a month, and repeating this as a “normal” way of life. Work on preventative measures that are sustainable, no matter how old you are or what your current fitness level is, to keep yourself in the game called Life.