How often do your clients squat to pick something up without engaging their glutes? Or get off the couch relying most on their triceps?
Everyday movement occurs by using more than one muscle group at a time and, more accurately, among the tissues that connect those muscle groups (myofascial networks). To transport a bag of groceries from the trunk of your car to your house, you use your gluteals, your shoulders and most everything in between. You do the same when you pick your young child off the floor. So why train your clients by isolating one muscle at a time?
Although the old-school method of sitting on a bench performing biceps curls still exists among bodybuilders, the truth is people who want to lose weight or get in better shape won’t get much benefit from improving the size of their biceps or doing heavy squats for massive quadriceps.
Movement-based training may help strengthen those same muscles and, more importantly, strengthen and lengthen tendons and supportive structures we use every day, such as the Achilles tendon or iliotibial (IT) band. That added support can prevent injuries and build movement efficiency.
The only time any muscle or joint works in isolation is when it’s working on a machine designed for isolation with one single axis of rotation—think leg presses, triceps press-downs or deltoid side raises. Otherwise, muscles, tendons and ligaments are inherently designed to work in a coordinated, synergistic manner to either create movement or decelerate movement.
Think of the pinnacle of fitness-based performers. What type of athletes do you feel meet that mark? If your definition of fit includes agility, balance, coordination, endurance and strength—qualities ACE has identified as essential Tools for Life—then you probably think gymnasts more closely meet that definition than bodybuilders. Athletes like martial arts masters, professional dancers and acrobats may incorporate some isolation exercises, but the bulk of their training comes from multiplanar movements, using equipment like medicine balls, cable machines, stability balls and sandbags, or their own body weight.
How Can I Sell Movement-based Training to Clients?
Despite the latest research demonstrating that movement-based exercises more accurately mirror the activities your clients will do on a daily basis, those studies won’t help you sell the idea.
Instead of focusing on technical information about elasticity and fascia, use these explanations to sell your clients session packages that incorporate movement-based exercise:
1. They’ll lose weight faster. Muscles use oxygen to produce energy (adenosine triphosphate, or ATP). When more muscles are involved in a movement, the more oxygen that’s required for energy production. More oxygen equates to a greater caloric expenditure, which is a technical way of saying your clients will burn more calories the more muscles they use during exercise. A lunge with overhead press, for example, will burn more calories than a leg press that’s training only a specific muscle (quadriceps).
2. They can do more in less time. Training more muscles allows your clients to get more out of a short workout. Typically, men and women have to work around their schedules at home and on the job, so their time is always in short supply. One hour of movement-based training is much more efficient than one hour going from machine to machine in the gym.
3. It helps reduce risk of injury. Engaging muscles, ligaments and tendons during workouts in the same manner they are used in everyday life not only builds strength, but also prepares clients for the sudden changes of direction that occur every day. For example, when making their way through a crowd or bending over cleaning the bathtub, the client’s lower back won’t be as fatigued and he or she may be less likely to pull or strain a muscle.
4. They’ll develop “body awareness.” Understanding the way their body moves and practicing it on a normal basis will help your clients begin to literally “feel” when they’re moving incorrectly or have bad posture.
5. They’ll develop better balance between various muscle groups. Good balance or strength between opposing muscle groups will facilitate efficient movement. Many male weightlifters choose to train the “beach muscles,” which usually face forward (chest, biceps and abdominals) paying less attention to the upper back, triceps and lower back, which counters each of the beach muscles. Balance between opposing muscles groups not only creates a more balanced body, but also reduces the risk for injuries that can occur when stronger muscles have to compensate for weaker ones.
6. It’s more fun. Let’s face it, training clients to zig-zag between cones or jump over small hurdles, jump ropes or play around on bars allows them to have more fun than spending an hour or two each week on machines. Load their workouts with variety and tests of skill, and they’ll undoubtedly keep coming back for more!
Learn more at our Movement-Based Exercise Workshop on September 22 in Dallas, Texas., and Philadelphia, Pa., and September 23 in Sacramento, Calif., and Hawthorne, Calif. Additional locations have been scheduled for November and December, as well. Register today and earn 0.8 CECs.