If you train in the gym, chances are you use an array of expensive machines that target specific muscle groups and small movements. Even if you use freeweights you’re likely doing specific, targeted exercises such as chest press or bicep curls.
This is all great (as long as you know why you’re doing that particular exercise of course).
All of these isolated movements though don’t necessarily tie together to make you move better.
Picture the big guys in the gym who train hard, get big, and move like a rusty robot.
For your body to move well, function well, and perform better both in sports and day to day life, your body needs to move as one complete unit. Smooth, fluid movements that cover all planes of motion (front to back, side to side, rotation). The more you can combine these planes of movement into one larger, full body movement, the more efficient and “functional” your body will become.
If you’re working around, rehabbing, or recovering from an injury, these isolated movements and machines are fantastic; or if you have muscle imbalances or weaknesses that need addressing, definitely target those muscle groups until they’re up to speed with the rest of your body.
These are also great for bodybuilding as you can really target specific muscle groups to make them grow.
If your goal is to feel better, move more freely, perform better at sports or daily tasks though, you need to train slightly differently. Either train solely in this manner if your goal is simply better movement, or if you’re a bodybuilder or targeting specific muscles for any other reason, you also need to include some training that integrates all of the strength you’ve gained from training muscles in isolation.
Isolate, then integrate.
Build strength in your chest, then integrate that strength into a full body pushing movement…
Build your quads (thighs) with a leg extension machine, then integrate that new strength into jumps, sprints, step-ups etc…
To do this, you need to use large, full body exercises/movements that use all of your muscles and joints together. Think about the difference between a bench press (lying down and pushing a weight up from your chest) and a push up (holding your entire bodyweight up, staying tight and straight through your legs, arms, neck, core and back muscles… and then pushing your weight up whilst maintaining that tension through your body).
Bodyweight training is a great way to go. Move your entire body in as many different ways as possible. Think gymnastics… dance… martial arts… yoga etc.
If you’re not quite sure where to start or are looking for an exercise class that will get your whole body moving, build strength and endurance, power and stability, co-ordination and fitness, then may I introduce you to Animal Flow.
Animal Flow classes are all bodyweight, ground based “movements”. The aim is to master your bodyweight and move it in as many different ways as possible with strength, control, stability and fluidity.
You’ll learn various movements that strengthen your entire body and get it moving as one unit, then combine those movements into continuous “flows”. The key being control and fluid movement.
When you can move your body under control and have the strength to do so, everything you do will become easier whether it’s a sport or just getting in and out of the car.
For anyone from elite athletes to people who just want to get a bit fitter. Whether you run, gym, swim, fight, cycle, bodybuild or do yoga. You can benefit from Animal Flow.
Check out the Animal Flow page on my website www.DartfordBootcamps.com/animalflow for more information. Classes are Tuesdays, 7-8pm at The Brent School.
If you feel like your training needs something extra or like the more you exercise, the tighter and stiffer you get, come and try the class to start tying it all together. Build that new strength into powerful movements and create a strong body, not just strong muscles.
Whatever you do, start integrating your “exercises” into “movements”.