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April 6, 2012, 01:24PM PT in Fitnovatives Blog  |  0 Comments

Avoid Burnout By Learning Anatomy and Movement Mechanics

anatomy and kinesiology of the lower body webinar

If you are feeling burnt out and think taking clients through the same exercises and machines all of the time can become a little repetitive for you as a trainer, consider how the client feels. Clients hire trainers for their exercise knowledge, but also for their creativity and enthusiasm for implementing innovative exercise programs. 

So one of the most exciting things about being a personal trainer is developing ways to appropriately challenge clients during their workouts. Coming up with new exercises to challenge and engage clients does not require using a variety of equipment better suited for a circus. But it does involve a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy and an understanding of biomechanics in order to engage the body the way it was designed to move.

Now keep in mind that I don’t mean traditional textbook anatomy. Being able to mindlessly regurgitate the origin and insertion of a particular muscle doesn’t really matter when you’re standing on a fitness floor designing a program for a client who wants to get her glutes ready for swimsuit season.

No, I mean having an understanding of functional anatomy — specifically how muscles actually work when the human body is vertical and moving upright while having to mitigate the forces causes by gravity and ground reaction.

For years, human anatomy has typically been taught in a two-dimensional format using illustrations to show how muscles connect from one bone to another. Keep in mind that we learn anatomy from images that show the human body in a static position, yet during exercise, the body is constantly in motion. It has generally been accepted that a muscle can only influence the joint it crosses.

Anatomy and Kinesiology of the Lower Body ACE Live Webinar Join Pete in the "Anatomy and Kinesiology of the Lower Body" Webinar

If you're interested in learning more, sign up for ACE's Live Webinar on April 17, 2012. Register Now →

 

However, thanks to leading educators like Gary Gray and Thomas Myers, we are developing a new understanding of how muscles work to influence all joints during upright movement patterns.

Myers’ work is important because he describes muscles as a system that transmits force through the entire body and identifies 12 specific lines (that he calls “anatomy trains”) of how various muscles connect to influence human movement. 

Gray’s work teaches that movement at one segment of the body influences motion at other segments, referred to as chain reaction biomechanics.

The work of both experts teaches us that we need to develop exercises to train the body as an integrated system — not a series of separate, isolated segments. 

Try this experiment: Stand up where you’re reading this, keep your chest tall (and spine straight) and with your right hand reach across your body (towards the 11 o’clock position). Now look down at your feet. What is your right foot doing?  What is your left foot doing? With your right hand reaching across your body, your thoracic spine rotates, changing the position of the pelvis. As the pelvis moves across the femoral heads, it will change the position of the femurs, which ultimately change the position of your feet — your left foot should be supinated and your right foot should be pronated. 

Switch arms and reach across your body with the left. What did your feet do?

In my career, I have definitely had bouts of staleness and burnout. What I learned is that once I started feeling that way, then it was time to look for a continuing education workshop to stimulate my gray matter and break me out of the rut. This is what led me to taking my workshop with Gray back in 2003, and it totally changed the way I started training clients. 

Learning how movement at the arms and shoulders can influence the position of the hips and feet suddenly opens up all sorts of creativity for developing exercises — without even having to use any equipment. 

For example, by simply changing the position of the arms during a lunge — like during a forward lunge with arm drivers — you can create a higher amount of hip flexion, which uses more of the hip extensors (glutes) during the exercise.

If you’re looking for ways to shake up clients’ exercise programs more creatively, try doing various movements with minor changes such as reach, a different foot position, or a different pattern such as a step-up in the frontal plane as opposed to a traditional step-up in the sagittal plane.

Taking the time to learn anatomy and movement mechanics will help you to add variety and excitement to your exercise programs, creating more enjoyment for both you and your clients.

Anatomy and Kinesiology of the Lower Body ACE Live Webinar Join Pete in the "Anatomy and Kinesiology of the Lower Body" Webinar

If you're interested in learning more, sign up for ACE's Live Webinar on April 17, 2012. Register Now →

By Pete McCall, MS

McCall has an MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. In addition, he is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer (ACE-CPT) and holds additional certifications and advanced specializations through NSCA and NASM. McCall has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Runner’s World and Self.

More info on Pete McCall »