Exercise for Life

We teach our clients to move intentionally to connect the upper body and lower body contralaterally. Bipedal contralateral movement is what developed our muscles, and why they function the way they do.

Modern times have made it difficult to keep our muscles functioning the way they were designed because we use the wrong lifting patterns when we exercise, we’re sedentary… and then we SIT on an exercise bike for “exercise”, we stretch the wrong way resulting in flaccid muscle tissue. All of these variables effect the way your body functions in real life.

In our gym we train your body to move the way your body naturally moves in life outside the gym. Simple looking, but not so easy to perform (correctly) when your body has been out of touch with these foundational movements. It takes time and repetition to reconnect your muscles and get them working optimally.

How Do You Build Strong Glutes?

Having strong glutes is crucial for a strong body, because your glutes play a role in all of your movements. As trainers, we work to build functional strength in the glutes to improve our clients ability to use their hips more efficiently in sports, like running, boxing, or golf, and for EVERYDAY use.

What does “functional strength” mean? Strength that translates to the way your body uses that strength in the real world. Most trainers or exercisers only use squat variations or mini band exercises to build their glute muscles, without considering how those exercise patterns translate (or don’t translate) to their movement patterns in real life.

In other words, context matters because the way the glutes function during a golf swing, for example, is primarily through rotation of the pelvis- a HUGE difference from what the pelvis is doing in squats (pictured) and mini band exercises. If we train our client’s glutes for rotational function, the muscle strength carries over to the way their body uses it during golf and daily movement.

If you train exclusively in the sagittal plane with expectations that you’re going to build functional strength, you’re missing the context that your body needs to operate smoothly. Did you know your glutes rotate your pelvis when you walk, run, and throw? Most athletes perform all of these functions at some point, and most humans perform at least one every day (walking), and it’s important to remember that if your training doesn’t factor functions that relate to the way you use your body in reality, into your exercises, your strength will be confined to the gym. Period.

Start training your body for the life it lives outside of the gym. Context matters. Our trainers recognize that not all exercises translate to the what your body needs, unless it’s specific to how your body moves. Squats would be more useful to us if we were kangaroos, but since our glutes primarily contract in a horizontal direction, as with walking, we need to train them and prepare them for what they do most. This is how strength translates to function!

Functional Exercises

In order to classify an exercise as functional, it should carry over to everyday life. Squats, pushups, and pull-ups are often lumped in the functional category because they integrate multiple muscles at once and display bodily strength. However, how often in your day to day movement (away from the gym) do you really use these movements?

Day to day, the human structure moves through contralateral patterns, like walking, more frequently than a squat or push-ups and pull-ups. From a biological standpoint when the body encounters a flight or fight scenario, mechanisms activate in your body that cause you to run from danger- another contralateral movement.

Instead of categorizing exercises as functional just because you aren’t doing yoga or meathead bodybuilding and powerlifting, you should consider how much carry over that exercise will have in life outside of the gym. Will it help your mechanics when you walk and run, or will it sound and look cool but really not have much impact on how your body moves most?

Functional training, when done correctly, will build muscle and strength that translates to movement patterns that your body uses on a daily basis. The stronger you are at what you do most, will result in more efficiency and less wear and tear on your body.

Without This, Physical Activity Suffers!

activity like this, requires muscles that work, in order to perform without aches, pains, or injuries.

Without proper muscle activity, physical activity suffers.

If your muscles don’t work when you work, your body picks up the slack in deficit ways.

The body is king/queen at compensating, which means if you want it to achieve a range of motion it will do it, but it will use whatever muscles it can to get there.

When you don’t use the correct muscles to move your body, you risk injuring yourself or triggering pain from improper mechanics.

Your mechanics are directly related to your muscle function, so muscles that don’t work are going to cause your body to move inefficiently.

Walking the dogs, playing tennis, exercising, standing, and general movements all require functional muscles if you want to perform these activities without consequences.

The consequence for dysfunctional muscles, is poor body mechanics, poor body mechanics contribute to movement compensations, which lead to aches, pains, and injuries.

Let our team of trainers help teach your body how it needs to function, to move without pain!

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 forward, while your right leg kicks back and your left arm swings back, to rhythmically propel yourself through space; as in walking.

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

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!

Human Biomechanics

We have said it before and we’ll say it again, we are not your typical gym with your average personal trainers. We incoproate Functional Patterns training methodology to train the human body the way it was designed to function. Our approach aims to undue the damages inflicted on the body from all traditional means of exercises and mobility that don’t respect the physics and tensegrity of human biomechanics.

Traditional training includes weightlifting, bodybuilding, olympic lifting, crossfit, cycling, yoga, pilates, gymnastics, animal flow, isolated stretching, functional range conditioning, H.I.I.T. training, spin class, and group classes with the objective of burning max calories and gaining (dysfunctional) muscle.

All these forms of exercise are the antithesis of optimal biomechanics and makes it very hard to create the muscle associations we need to make to alter your structure to the degree we could if you weren’t doing those types of training.

If you’re wanting to learn or do Functional Patterns training you’ll get the best results when you aren’t engaging or plan to return to any of the above mentioned methods, as none of them aim to enhance human biomechanics and therefore create a direct hinderance towards you getting the best and fastest results.

While the intent behind all of these methods is good, the application doesn’t deliver. All of the above mentioned methods cause a disconnect from human movement. When you think of “human movement” think of walking as a basic example, and then think about what all of the above mentioned forms of training look like, and now think about how they don’t align with the motions of human movement. So the deeper you go into those forms of training, the further away you go from the fundamentals of how the human body was born to move. And the further you go away from how you were born to move the less optimally your body moves and the more likely your body will suffer from pain and breakdown from injury.

We aren’t saying that these forms of training are terrible and that you should never do them, but what we are saying is that your body wasn’t made for these forms of training, which is often why people get injured, experience unexplained aches and pains, and become less inclined to move well the more they participate in these. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and are participating in these styles of training, then in that case, we would recommend not doing them. At least for some time to decide if its causing you harm. In other words if you’re participating in them and then stop and your body starts feeling better, then you can see the correlation between these styles of training and the outcome on your body.

If you really want to heal your body, take it a step further and start participating in a training style that matches the way the human body moves, and accounts for all of the intricacies that make up human motion. Enter Functional Patterns training. A system that makes your muscles work (contract/ engage/ activate) during exercise the way they work in the real world. Translating the work you do in the gym to a stronger body in reality. But the key is that you need to train your body accordingly instead of just participating in exercise for the sake of exercise.

Exercise is good, but not all exercise is created equal or produces the same outcome. Some of the above mentioned training styles become just a social hour (albeit a healthier social hour than drinking at the bar) or a way to fit in because everyone else is going to the local gym or workout class. But you should ask yourself, just because those people are working out, are they absent of pain, are they capable of moving without restriction, are they only good at exercising or can they perform in any given scenario?

Hopefully after reading this you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding about how exercise can benefit you if you exercise in a manner that respects the way the human body was designed to move. If you don’t, then sure exercise will have some superficial benefits that your doctor may recommend like lowering your blood pressure if you’re a couch potato and stimulating your muscles as opposed to letting them waste away, but if you don’t exercise the right way then the harms can outweigh the potential benefits. For example, sitting on a spin bike 5 days a week disconnects your upper body from your lower body, places your spine in a kyphotic posture, and doesn’t strengthen your core muscles. This can result in lower back pain from lack of core support, problems when you walk because your only training your body in a seated position, severed muscle chains because you aren’t training your kinetic chain for the way your entire system operates naturally, and a poor posture that makes it look like you’re depressed because you’re always hunched over, eventually maybe leading to some form of depression because your posture will influence your mood- via the emotional links with your fascia… see how health and fitness goes WAY deeper than just exercising your muscles?

These are just examples to start making you think about why we are still such an unhealthy society, with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and still have to have joint replacement surgeries and live with lower back pain even though people are exercising. It’s because nobody is taking the time to educate how complex exercise really is and the way the human body should be trained. Most of us are still working out with a structure from P.E. class or collegiate athletics or what your doctor recommends or what you see on T.V. The problem is that these exercises just keep you running in circles on the hamster wheel instead of solving problems with your body to make you a better functioning human without pain and risking injury when you move, play sports, move furniture, walk your dogs, chase your kids, grocery shop, do yard work, and live life.

If you’re tired of exercising without any applicable, noticeable benefit then contact us to take the first step toward exercising with a purpose so the results extend beyond body composition, weight loss, muscle tone, and cardiovascular health, but start to include a stable posture, a strong body for doing what you do most, and most importantly achieving fitness without pain so you can have a body that handles the demands of real life!

Exercise Priorities

There’s a lot of different training styles that clients are exposed to in the fitness industry. Some work, some don’t. Some are good, some are better, some are bad, and some are just plain wrong. In this gym we don’t try to keep up with the latest trends, but instead focus on the function of the human-being to know our training is relevant and beneficial to our clients.

We measure function as it relates to gait (ie; walking) because it’s what we do most as humans. If what you do most is dysfunctional, a cataclysm of problems will follow in other functions you perform. They will be restricted and imbalanced, leading to asymmetrical movement and compensation.

Consequently, pain and injuries will present themselves because your fundamental movement is wiring in bad habits. If every step you take is in a compensatory manner then your muscles start to learn that it is normal, even if it isn’t right.

Our goal when training clients is to expose their compensations to see what their body is doing wrong so that we can reprogram better function and build strength as it relates to the gait cycle. Thus circling back to what we do most as humans, if you have a strong body you should have a functional gait cycle. Strong individual muscles may look nice and serve some purpose, but if those muscles don’t know how to function together at a fundamental level then it’s a waste of mass. Then you start teaching your body to move around rigid and clunky because your muscles don’t know how to work together in harmony.

Isolating your muscles when you exercise (picture the exercises you see in most commercial gyms) and expecting them to magically translate to functional body mechanics is like not studying for a board exam and expecting to get your license. You need to prepare your body with the right stimulus for the outcome you want it to achieve.

That’s why in this gym, we train functions (through exercises) and not just exercise for the sake of saying you worked out. It’s a different breed of fitness and it produces a different outcome on the body. An outcome that translates to life away from the gym and better function when you’re living life in the real world.

So if you don’t want to be a gym rat, but you recognize the importance of exercise for your health, then you might want to consider learning the right way to exercise to get your body built for the world and not just a body that can perform exercises- that may or may not carry over to functioning well in real life.

If our philosophy meshes with your view on exercise then don’t wait to start functioning better today! It’s a long road but the body can be re-trained to move and function better!

 

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?

Human Function

The human body has evolved to function in the way that it has through environmental stimulus from the natural world. In nature, a human would need to be efficient at walking, running, and throwing in order to survive. Just because we have changed our environment through technological innovation over the past several hundred years, does not negate the thousands of years that went into forming our body into what it is today.

There are specific ratios of movement, rotations, muscular tensions, and pressures that need to be coordinated in order to have efficient gait and throwing. Almost every movement that a human does is going to be a derivative of those patterns. By optimizing the length tension relationship of muscles through these patterns, you end up with a structure that is able to float in a sea of muscles and distribute force through entire kinetic chains as opposed to compressing joints and vertebrae with the impact of every step you take.

Our gym utilizes Functional Patterns training because FP seeks to codify and quantify the specific movement sequencing needed to optimize those patterns and get ordinary people to move in a closer approximation to an elite athlete.

Once these patterns are instituted, progressive overload can be utilized to build muscle that serves a functional purpose rather than isolated muscle that makes us clunky and inefficient movers.