I wanted to talk balance, no not tight rope walking. But total body balance in the way we see fitness and exercise. Understanding this can directly benefit the quality of our lives; modern day training has become more about aesthetics and mirror muscles, which has developed a what you see is what you train mentality. Isn’t keeping fit about living longer and keeping our bodies strong?
In this part I’m going to highlight key movement patterns which should make up your weight training sessions. From now on you’ll see a movement and recognise which muscle is being worked, instead of just doing them. Plus we’re going to take a deeper look at one of the greatest movements ever developed and I’m sure once you’ve seen the power and benefit you’ll add them to you weekly routine.
Hippocrates explained the principle behind strength training when he wrote: “that which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away,” by which he was referring to muscular hypertrophy and atrophy. This basically means if you don’t use your muscles you body won’t keep them, the body is a lazy subject and doesn’t want to waste time fuelling unused muscles. It would much rather you relaxed done all your shopping online and sleep the whole day through.
Ok, down to business.
Horizontal pushes (forward) – these are your bench presses, DB bench press, incline DB bench press, press ups and the common variations, dips etc
Horizontal pulls (backward) – bent over rows, seated rows, and body rows etc
Vertical push (Up) – now we have your seated and standing variations of BB overhead press, db overhead press, machine presses, cable presses, and handstand exercises.
Vertical pulls (down) – lat pull downs, chin ups
Hip dominant exercises – dead lifts, stiff legged Deadlifts, one legged Deadlifts, lunges and lunge variations, hip bridges, etc
Quad dominant leg exercises – squats, one legged squats leg extensions, step ups, etc
Core – exercises for flexion, extension, rotation, bracing and lateral flexion of the spine
This is the part when you have to stop thinking about the size of your legs or how big you want your chest to be. Missing any of the above movements out will unbalance your body, it’s that simple. Now think about things like your joint health, proprioception and coordination. Just look at the chap doing loads of bench presses, Horizontal pushing movements to increase the size of his chest, he’s most probably missing out on the Horizontal pulls so the fact is his chest is only going to get smaller as his back becomes more and more rounded as his poor chest muscles get tighter. So he then begins to train his chest harder and more often. The stretch tension relationship isn’t balanced!
Then the woman, who doesn’t want to do horizontal push, pulls because she doesn’t want her arms to get to big. And when she does any form of push, pull it’s with a 1kg weight that won’t put the muscles under any tension at all.
How will my body and its structure benefit from strength training?
Increased bone strength and density: Due load through the entire skeletal system resulting in positive adaptations to exercise.
Enhanced joint stability: balance the muscles on either side of a joint and return that joint to full function.
Increased lean body mass (Fat Loss and hypertrophy): The more muscle you have to more fat you’ll burn
Improved posture: compound Exercises like squats and Deadlifts strengthen back and core muscles. Also bad posture can be due to a lack of confidence, strength training can give a the help regain better self-esteem
Improved Function: strength training can aid in the way our bodies move if we simulate our everyday movements through our exercise routines
Now I want to take a deeper look at the squat movement Quad dominant leg exercise just to help breakdown some of the benefits and bit more.
The squat is the number one bodybuilding movement: it uses nearly the entire muscular system, and it also works the cardiovascular system.
The exercise’s main emphasis is on the quadriceps and the glutes, but it also involves the hamstrings, the calves, and the lower back.
Working the lower body effectively using isolation exercises, you would have to perform 6 exercises: leg extensions, leg curls, hip extensions, hip adductions, hip abductions and calf raises.
On the 16th December 2007, Dr Thienna Ho performed 5,135 sumo squats in one hour
Who performs this movement? Bodybuilders, Regular gym users and believe it or not we all do, each and every day. Just think about when you go to sit down?
Workings with squats are beneficial to you in many ways including upper leg strength and definition. Squats also give strength to the lower back. This is one of the key movements that places stress the whole skeleton and lower body joints and increases bone density. The squat is an all round movement which is functional and beneficial for everyone.
How do I fit all of these movements into my workouts?
Day 1) Quad dominant, horizontal push, horizontal pull, core – rotation
Day 2) Hip dominant, vertical push, vertical pulls, core – flexion
Now you’re covered – just in 2 days! You now have the rest of the week for sports, cardiovascular work – aerobic and anaerobic.
Look out for: A balanced approach part 2.
With over eight years experience as a personal trainer, Andreas Michael jumped into the world of health and fitness at the tender age of sixteen. Starting out with long-distance running and using resistance machines to increase his muscle size, Andreas soon realised that variety was the key to achieving his fitness goals. Because of this, he is passionate about continually learning about and trying new training techniques such as sarcomere hypertrophy, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and strength- and power-training.