Body Mechanics: Think Outside The Box

Hello and welcome to yet another edition of Body Mechanics. Typically when I write this blog article I take an exercise and break it down for you. I also elaborate on a topic that I feel is relevant and may add depth and perception. Health and fitness is unique in the sense that there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are many methods out there that have been proven to work time and time again. However, I cannot stress the importance of finding something that works effectively for you! When it comes to training, if we are always thinking like everyone else we will inevitably be forced to be like everyone before us.

In my lifting experience I have been fortunate enough to work with some pretty remarkable people. I didn’t know this at the time, but my friend that helped me at first, taught me a lot of what I have come to appreciate as the basic fundamentals. I have learned a lot over the past year when it comes to training, and my goal is always to help people reach theirs. Part of the reason I come to you every week here is to share with you some of what I know in hopes that I can inspire people to improve themselves.

So what exactly am I getting at? I really wanted you to start thinking outside of the box with your training efforts. If you were to step foot in a gym on a Monday the majority of the people you see will be on, or waiting for a bench press. That’s right, it’s national bench press day. All jokes aside, training should not feel like a chore or be mundane. It should be challenging and engaging, but how do we do that? Something as simple as a TRX, Vipr, Sandbell, Bosu or Stability ball can go along way to help increase the intensity of your workouts. By adding instability and or movement-based exercises into your routine you can really kick it up a notch. You will begin to see an increase in performance and by strengthening the neuromuscular system it strengthens the body as a whole.

We must be constantly adding a stimulus (progressive overload) to grow, otherwise we are simply maintaining. Many people will see this phase as a plateau. The truth is that they have grown complacent with their routine and have forgotten the basic principle that is progression. When people begin to lift they will always see an increase in strength, but without having a big spurt of growth. This is odd, or is it?

When people new to lifting start to train they are making a mind muscle connection and their strength gains will come from increased neuromuscular recruitment patterns. What’s happening to the body here is coordination and proper muscle sequencing. All this is happening because we are teaching the body a new range of motion and the body is extremely adept at becoming efficient. It will always find the quickest most effective way to meet the demands being asked of it. This is done while minimizing the amount of energy required to do so. So if it works for beginners it should work as we continue in our training.

I really want to go into detail and give you an exercise for every piece of equipment mentioned above.  Unfortunately today that is not an option, but perhaps in the future we can elaborate more on each. Each of the tools mentioned above serve a purpose and can be manipulated to suit your training level. Simply holding the equipment outside of your base of support will increase the demand on various stabilizer muscles as well as the core. If we add movement with the equipment we can increase the amount of force required to complete the movement. When we go back to the activity or sport the movement mimics, the individual will move quicker, as well as being stronger and more powerful.

Instability is another key factor, it forces our stabilizers to work much harder which by default will increase our balance. Balance is not the only benefit of instability though, it will also help to ward of injury as our ankle strength and flexibility will improve. The TRX system is essentially a home gym and can be used to formulate a full body routine, if you haven’t tried on as of yet, I suggest you do. All of these different types of will help stimulate and strengthen your neuromuscular system. As mentioned above when we strengthen our mind muscle connection we too become stronger.

The take home message here is to always be open-minded in your pursuit of your goals. Do not become comfortable with your training. You must always seek new ways to  progress and do not be afraid to make mistakes or even fail for in failure there is always a lesson to be learned. Remember the idea is to get better with every set rep and breath!

Happy Lifting!

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2 comments for “Body Mechanics: Think Outside The Box

  1. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Matt, I really enjoyed writing that. I hope people will gain something from the post.

  2. December 1, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Awesome post Carlos! I look forward to you continuing in this direction (if that’s what you choose to do – your breakdown of exercises are also worthy reading). I’m always interested in the methods that athletes are trained and in functional training in general. Learning how to make our bodies more usable as we move forward in our weight training lifestyles is definitely something we all should be concerned with. Great read my friend!

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