I am going into my 10th year as a fitness professional, and each year I seem to improve and evolve my training philosophy. That is one thing that I love about my profession. There are always ways to improve my craft. This year in particular has been a huge epiphany for me in the way I would like to train my members and clients here at State of Fitness in the year 2012.
Many times, us trainers fall into the trap of wanting to give our clients what they want, and not what they need. I don’t do this often, but I must say I have been guilty of this at times. Television shows such as the Biggest Loser, and workout methods such as Crossfit and p90x are very influential to many people out there, and I can’t blame the common viewer for that. It is very inspirational to see someone lose dramatic amounts of weight, and perform very athletic and impressive fitness routines. Unfortunately, what many people are not aware of is that their bodies may not be ready for this type of training.
It is no secret that the majority of the population is very sedentary at their jobs, lack the nutritional intake the body needs, and have high stress levels with limited amounts of sleep. Our lifestyle is more demanding than ever, and sometimes we forget to do the right things for our bodies. Even though science is more sophisticated than ever, and social media and the internet have exposed us to enormous amounts of health information, we still have more people with pain, injury, and poor movement quality.
Before you jump into a high-intensity, fat-loss training program, you must address any pain, injury, and poor movement patterns that you have or else you will be very limited gaining any results, and you could end up doing more harm to your body than good.
This year at State of Fitness, my training staff and I are implementing the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), invented by the world-renowned physical therapist, Gray Cook. We’re implement this screening tool to help give our members and clients the proper assessment that will give us immediate feedback. The tool allows us to determine what exercise program we need to develop for them in order to increase mobility, stability, reduce and eliminate pain, improvement movement, and ultimately help them reach their goals safely.
Basic bodyweight movements should not provoke pain. If pain is found during basic movements such as push-ups, squats, lunges, rotary core, leg lifts, or running, exercise should be modified, interrupted, or stopped. At that time one should seek professional help such as a physical therapist or a qualified and skilled personal trainer that is FMS proficient to help them develop a corrective exercise program to clear up insufficient or painful movement patterns. Even if there is no pain when there are asymmetries and gross limitation of fundamental movement patterns, they can still cause compensation and substitution leading to poor efficiency, secondary problems, and increased risk of injury in active and inactive populations.
I know for the majority of you wanting to improve your fitness, lose body fat, gain muscle tissue, or run a marathon this year don’t want to hear about what could possibly be wrong with how you move. You have your goal, and you are ready to get out there and swing some kettlebells and run 10 miles today.
While I love people’s enthusiasm to start a fitness program and start improving their health, I first need to ask you some questions. Can you perform a deep squat below parallel? Can you perform a push-up that shows how stable your core is? Can you run or walk for a long period of time without pain or looking like you are trying to hobble just to move? Can you press a dumbbell or kettlebell above your head and hold it there for 1 minute without bending your elbows?
This one may sound funny, but can you get up and down from the ground without some type of assistance? When evaluating movement limitations, deficiencies, or tendencies, the ability to raise and lower yourself to/from the ground is considered the baseline gold standard. That singular ability determines the other evaluations of your movement that need to be performed.
Everyone should be able to perform a deep squat below parallel without pain. Think of how many ancient cultures ate in the deep squat position. Everyone should be able to get up and down off the ground with no assistance. Think of the exercise the Turkish Get-up. You would be amazed at how many of us cannot perform a perfect push-up.
I am not here to tell everyone that they are crippled, in pain, and shouldn’t work out. What I am trying to say is we must be patient before we decide to start a rigorous exercise program. It doesn’t matter if it is weight training, running, walking, cycling, or playing tennis. It is all movement, and it all requires multi-joint movement patterns that require multiple muscle groups to work synergistically together, or else compensation leading to pain will arise.
I love to push people to their edge when they come to my facility and want to lose fat and get in shape. I get so excited when my clients and members feel the gratification of completing 100 kettlebell swings, 50 burpees, and 30 goblet squats at then end of their workouts. But first, I must make sure they are free of pain and injury, and can move well enough not to compensate and reduce their odds of getting the results they desired. If you are someone who feels that you don’t move as well as they should, or have pain when you engage in activity, think about correcting those deficiencies, and learn how to move well, then move often.