I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in gyms across America. For the general fitness population, we need to ask these questions a lot less:
“How much ya bench?”
“How long did you do the treadmill/stepmill/elliptical?”
“How many burpees can you do in 10 minutes?”
Instead, we should be asking this question a lot more:
“How well do you move?”
Hopefully you move better than the Beverly Hills Ninja
Instilling and optimizing proper movement should be the number one priority of any training program. No matter what your goals are, your progress and achievement will be limited by your movement. Whether you are a powerlifter, triathlete, or stay-at-home mom, you will not be as strong, as fast, or as good at performing everyday activities if you cannot display basic, fundamental movements.
Dynamic coach Matt Skeffington may have said it best in his Facebook status last week:
Quality movement rules all. Want to improve your strength, fitness, speed, body comp, etc? Start by moving better!
So what comprises “good movement” and how do you move better? Those are loaded questions and the answers can be highly individual, but with the general population, I think there are a few principles that are important to take into consideration.
A good place to start is with a few points from Mike Reinold’s “Reverse Posturing” theory:
- Lengthen shortened muscles
- Release postural trigger points
- Inhibit overactive muscle groups
- Activate inhibited muscle groups
- Strengthen synergistic force couples
- Normalize proper joint biomechanics and arthrokinematics of the joint and other joints within the “chain reaction”
Then combine that with Dan John’s 5 basic human movements:
- Loaded Carry
That’s a pretty good foundation right there. Collectively, these principles will lead to better posture, more ideal joint centration, and an increased ability to take joints through a full range of motion. Furthermore, they will allow you to move better and perform the fundamental movements that are essential in sport and in life. Most important of all, you will feel better and be less likely to get injured.
A great way to institute all of this within the context of your strength and conditioning program is by including “movement days.” Movement days are best placed in between your strength training sessions and one or two a week will suffice. If you train Monday, Wednesday, Friday, depending on your schedule, you could put a couple movement days in on Tuesday and Thursday. Not only do these days give you a chance to prioritize and practice good movement (which you should be doing during all of your training sessions anyway), but they are a great way to promote blood flow to your muscles and enhance recovery.
The point of these sessions is not to go “all-out.” However, that doesn’t mean you get to take 5 minutes between sets. These workouts should be relatively short with appropriate rest periods, and be sure to go “nice and easy” throughout. To give you an idea of what one of these sessions might look like, here are a couple sample movement days for the general fitness client.
After foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up, perform the following workout:
Sample Movement Day #1
A1) TRX Inverted Row – 3×8
A2) Yoga Plex – 3×5/side
B1) Kettlebell Swing – 3×10
B2) Split-stance PVC Pec Mobilization – 3×8/side
C1) Band Pallof Press – 3×10/side
C2) Squat-to-Stand w/overhead reach – 3×5/side
D) Sled Push - 3×20 yards
Sample Movement Day #2
A1) TRX Y’s – 3×8
A2) Walking Spiderman w/hip lift and overhead reach – 3×5/side
B1) Dumbbell Goblet Squat – 3×10
B2) Modified Yoga Pushup – 3×6
C1) TRX Fallouts – 3×8
C2) Single-leg Hip Thrusts off bench – 3×10/side
D) Dumbbell Farmer Carry – 3×40 yards
What you choose to include in your movement days doesn’t necessarily have to be set in stone or planned in advance. It’s important that you take into consideration how you feel and let your body dictate what exactly will comprise your session on that given day. For example, simply foam rolling and going through a mobility circuit once or twice is a great idea. Running some hills at 60-70% intensity is awesome, too. The possibilities are endless, but make sure that your movement days always prioritize movement quality, address what you need (a.k.a. specifically what you need to improve), and that the intensity is kept relatively low(er).
Try instituting a movement day in between your regular training sessions throughout the week. If you do, and follow some of the guidelines I’ve outlined above, I’m confident that you’ll move better, feel better, and be more successful in achieving your goals.