Jonathan Ross by Jonathan Ross

shifting is the new lifting

Most lifting programs are incomplete. And it’s because they are just that — lifting programs.

Exercise is really just human movement performed at an intensity that is sufficient to bring a challenge, which elicits change in the body.

To pull the perspective back even further, in life, we move things. We lift and carry them; push and pull them; throw them and catch them. And to do these, we are always dealing with gravity and momentum.

Most weightlifting exercises involve lifting, directly opposing gravity  (e.g., squat, dead lift, shoulder press, pull-up, etc.). But in life, we lift, shift, and twist things we hold, even if it’s just ourselves. We move through gravity and so, have to deal with momentum.

Moving vertically against gravity is only one part of movement. For example, you won’t win many dance competitions by simply lifting your partner off the floor.  You also need to glide elegantly across the dance floor and also spin your partner and/or yourself. 

If you add some shifting and twisting, your “lifting” program can now provide a more complete movement experience. 

We’ve done a great job of spreading the message that resistance training (“lifting”) is essential for fitness.  Now we need to expand the definition of lifting to include shifting and twisting.

Here are some sample exercises that follow the ACE Integrated Fitness Training™( IFT™) Model and provide shifting or twisting — along with lifting.


(ACE IFT Model — Phase 1: Stability/Mobility)

In a standard plank position on elbows or hands, shift gently side to side while maintaining stability in the entire body. This gets a plank moving by shifting your mass side to side without changing body position. The emphasis is on stability as the weight shifts back and forth over each arm. 

If you’re doing static planks for longer than 30 seconds, you’re mostly wasting training time since life is movement.  This is a great way to improve the benefits of a plank by maintaining stability while controlling small movements.


(ACE IFT Model — Phase 2: Movement)

In a standard plank position, on elbows or hands, walk forward and backward.  A good length to use is the length of whatever pad you’re using to cushion the elbows.  If you’re not using a pad or are on hands, then move about three to five feet (about one to one-and-a-half meters).  Walk the length front and back two to four times.

Advanced Progression: TRX Climbing Plank

With your feet suspended in a suspension trainer, starting with your feet directly under the anchor, walk backwards to the limit of your stability and strength; then return to the start position and walk forward past it; then backward to return to the start position.  You will only need a maximum of two to four reps of this challenging exercise.


(ACE IFT Model — Phase 3: Load)

Stand with feet wide and hold a medicine ball (or other handheld equipment such as a ViPR). Perform a stationary side lunge and reach the medicine ball down to one foot.  As you return to the upright position, lift the medicine ball up to the opposite side of your head and swing it around behind and to the other side.  As you bring the medicine ball around to the front, it will be already moving toward the opposite foot so you will now perform the same lunge and medicine ball reach to the other foot.

(*Note: if you remove the weight from the hands, this becomes an exercise for Phase 2: Movement)

You now have a few options to illustrate the concept and to stimulate your thinking for your own ideas.  Remember, exercise is frequently dominated by just lifting with some occasional shifting and lifting done by accident.  By including a mix of shifting, lifting, and twisting within the context of the ACE IFT™ model, your programs will provide a movement experience that is more complete. 

After all, in life we move stuff around.  Everything we move has weight to it, and life is a lot more than just lifting!

Want more great info? Check out Jonathan’s “Shifting is the New Lifting” conference session.

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