Training movements not muscles is a common phrase used in strength and conditioning.
It refers to the idea that to make someone better at an activity or sport.
Training how the body moves over training specific muscles is the way to go.
This also requires a shift in how we actually look at exercises:
For example, let's take the squat. While a lot of people refer to this as a leg exercise. quad based.
I would refer to this as a multi joint movement of the hip, knee and ankle.
This is also a key movement for mimicking things like, picking up keys you drop, lowering your body to talk to your child, or jumping, and getting low on the bike.
Re thinking how we look at exercises also allows us to look at the movements we perform in life and what we want to feel better doing:
Looking at this from a running perspective, maybe you can feel your body arching forwards when you begin to tire?
This shows a weakness in the core area, both front and back and core work is the way to solve this.
However, most people think of core work as sit-ups, and crunches. This will do little to develop a stable upper body while running.
What you actually need to do is standing based core work, medicine ball throws, kettlebell carries and lower back strength work.
Thinking of the core as a full 360 as opposed to just abs is key here.
Do you see how much more methodical this is?
Training movement, over muscles is fantastic for improving how we go about our daily tasks and increasing the quality of movement.
It is much more relative to what actually means more to us when we look at training.
Do you care about the fact that your a kg lighter, or are you happier that you can be more active with your family?
Are you bothered that you have gained lean mass, or that you can climb faster than your mates as a result of this?
When we think about what truly matters to us with training then this style of training is much more positive.
What would an example session look like?
When training movements, not muscles we need to look at big, multi joint exercises like lunges, squats, jumps and such. These exercises will allow our bodies to move and function with ease.
So, let's get into what a session would look like:
The rower is a perfect warm up tool. It gets the heart rate up, it gets your back moving, your legs moving and your arms. It is as close as you can get to a full body cardio movement in the gym.
I would always recommend using the rower as a warm up:
Box jump: A fantastic exercise for developing power in the legs, elevating the HR and getting the body moving well. If your jump form is good, your squatting technique will more than likely be good too.
Back squat: A brilliant exercise for strengthening the legs, multi joint movement of the hips, knees and ankles. Can also be done with kettlebells, dumbbells and bodyweight.
Lunging movements: Another great exercise, adding a single leg element into training. developing single leg strength, stability and also working on the core. Lunging movements are brilliant in any training plan.
Core work: I would always add core work into a training plan. However, not core work as most people see it. My style of core work involves carrying odd weights, throwing medicine balls, Uneven weighted squats etc. These movements add functional stability as well as being more interesting than crunches for half an hour.
I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into how my training philosophy works. I am much more orientated towards promoting movement and health over 3 sets of 10. This makes training more suited to the people I work with. Mainly cyclists, runners and people who are looking for something interesting in a gym.
This style of training isn't suited to everyone, people chasing pure aesthetics for example, would also benefit from static, isolated exercises as these are key for building muscle. However for the kind of work I do. I would always recommend training movement, not muscles.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and that it has opened up a new world of training for you.
Stay safe. Stay outdoors.