Super-Charge Your Strength and Athleticism
A quick surf of the internet or some time falling down the YouTube rabbit hole will reveal every exercise you haven’t been doing that will get you ripped, shredded, lean, jacked, and tan in 30 days or less. But have you looked around lately? If it was that easy, why is over half of the U.S. population obese?
I have been involved in training, strength and conditioning, fitness, and the like in some way, shape, or form for the better part of 3 decades. I’ve seen endless iterations of training programs, workout plans, fitness regimens, get-fit-quick schemes littering the internet. While you, the would-be consumer and user of said things, may think that the secret to better health, performance, and body composition is hidden within the depths of said internet, there is, in fact, a very simple way to understand and apply critical reasoning to any training program you may be considering.
The human body is complex in many regards, but the primary patterns of movement it is capable of performing do not fit in the category of high complexity. Additionally, if your training program is not making you stronger and more athletic as you continue to train, you’re literally sweating for no reason.
In terms of human movements, we can divide them into simple categories.
Let's start with the upper body.
UPPER BODY PATTERNS
The lower body is even simpler:
LOWER BODY PATTERNS
Perform a quick test of these movements and you'll notice that you can do all of them under a doorway. Hence, the reason we call them "Doorway Movements". Now, layer on top of these primary patterns of upper and lower body movement, the three primary planes of human movement, pictured below:
It should be obvious that we can move in more than just the direction straight through the doorway. Moving side to side and rotating are not just available motions, they're necessary components to train in order to develop well-rounded strength and athleticism. Being strong in the Coronal (a.k.a. "Frontal") Plane and Transverse (a.k.a. "Rotary") Plane actually contributes to better Sagittal (a.k.a. "Doorway") Plane strength. For you meatheads and bros out there, being strong in all three planes means better bench, squat, and deadlift totals.
"If your training program is not making your stronger and more athletic as you continue to train, you’re literally sweating for no reason."
Throughout our warm-up, training, and cool-down, we can apply these primary human movement patterns. You don't have to focus on just one area per session. And you don't need to spend 30 minutes activating every muscle in your body before you feel comfortable picking up a weight.
Your warm-up should look like your workout.
For example, if you're going to back squat, it's a good idea to do a few bodyweight squats rather than just bend over to touch your toes or grab your foot and pull it to your butt.
You might also spend some time doing a few walking lunges and side plank holds, as we know now that warming up the muscles in all 3 planes of motion ensures top performance during your training. The warm-up should send a clear message to your body and your brain you're about demand physical output with more intensity than your normal walk to the mailbox.
You can even apply this understanding of three planes of motion into your actual training session.
If your workout is primarily full of horizontal pressing or pulling (i.e., bench pressing, or rowing variations), mix in a few movements that force your arms to move out to the side, or even diagonally across your body. If you were doing 5 sets of horizontal pressing (like a bench press), you could spend 15-30 seconds of your recovery time between sets doing a lighter activity like banded rear deltoid flies.
The cooldown should help your body and your nervous system in such a way that you stimulate the recovery process.
Here, once again, bodyweight movements are a great idea. You don’t have to move fast, but you do want to move throughout your cool-down. Just laying on the floor and waiting for your heart rate to recover is a recipe for feeling stiff as a board the next day. Plus we know that 4 minutes of cool-down activities kick-starts your body’s adaptation to the training you just performed. Skip the cooldown and it can take up to 4 hours to get your body into recovery mode
Developing better strength, fitness, and athleticism is only possible when employing training that encompasses these fundamental laws of human movement. There is a skill component to these movements, and a quality training program will challenge and improve all of these patterns, shoring up limiting factors and building better depth to the individual's strengths along the way. Anyone, athlete or not, who employs a plan such as this will experience exponentially better results than someone stuck in a plan that doesn't address the multi-dimensional characteristics of human movement and performance.
Paraphrasing a popular quote:
"Smart work beats hard work when hard work doesn't work smart.”
Whatever training program you decided to follow, if you remember to train the 7 primary patterns we discussed in this article along with the 3 primary planes of motion, you will develop well-rounded strength, fitness, and athleticism.
Need more help? That’s where we come in. We offer free 15-minute consultations with our doctors of physical therapy to see if you’re a good fit for our practice and training programs. If you’re tired of hitting the wall in your training, or sick of training injuries getting in the way of the progress you want to make in the gym, give us a call (913) 396-9726 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.