If there is ONE thing I can say for sure, it's that the human body was meant to MOVE! We weren't built for this technology and efficiency driven lifestyle of staring at screens (as I type this) and sitting in "ergonomically designed" office chairs for 8 hours. The human body was designed to do awesome things like climb mountains, catch sabertooth tigers, and trek 20+ miles every day.
Unfortunately that's not the world we live in anymore, which is a shame because I think a sabertooth tiger would make a wicked pet. Obviously our lifestyles have changed over the past few thousand years but what about us? Have we changed or evolved at a genetic level? Interestingly enough experts say we have actually seen some genetic shifts in recent millenia but not really in any way that would impact our bodies from a health, metabolism, or fitness perspective. This means that our lives don't require us to move in the same ways we were designed so it's up to us to put in the extra effort if we want to function at that higher level.
Ok, so we get it. Genes respond to signals and activity is a signal that we are programmed to recieve on a regular basis. We were built for movement but what kind of movement? How can we regain that awesomeness?
Humans are multi-dimensional creatures living in a three-dimensional environment so it only makes sense that our workouts should encourage us to move in all three of these planes of motion. Most of the exercise world emphasizes a lot of front to back (saggital) movements; think bicep curls and walking lunges. These are great exercises and we use them in our group fitness classes, but including a healthy balance of side to side (frontal) and rotational (transverse) movements will help you stay injury free and performing at your peak. All of the muscles we use in rotational and side to side exercises also play a big role in stabilizing the movements we continually do front to back.
Alright, so how can we apply this to our regular exercise programs without making it complicated? Cue.....
The 4 Pillars of Human Movement
If you have been coming to G+O Fitness Classes then these are nothing new to you. The 4 Pillars of Human Movement, were made popular by the world renowned Juan Carlos Santana in the early 90's and referred to in his book "Functional Training; Breaking the bonds of the traditionalism" (1999). There are a handful of ways to categorize movement but at Gravity + Oxygen we like the pillars because they celebrate and highlight the importance of multi-planar training and using the body as an integrated unit. This doesn't mean you will never see a bicep curl in our classes, but more that the bicep works to do much more than flex the elbow from front to back. Using exercises from all 4 Pillars when looking at your weekly workouts will ensure you are building not only stronger muscles, but a well-balanced body that will put you a step ahead of the fitness world. For our G+O Fitness Crew, just keep coming in to classes and we do all the thinking for you!
Check out these descriptions and links below for the quick and dirty on how and why to keep the pillars in mind when building your workout plan.
1) Locomotion: This is how we move! We walk, crawl, run, bike, hop, swim, and skip in all directions but not without working on the physical qualities that promote it. This means an emphasis on core stiffness, anti-rotational, and rotational exercises. It also involves a variety of single limb training, and exercises that require controlled counter movements of the hips and shoulders. This can be as easy as throwing in walking lunges, sled pushes, or split-stance band presses.
2) Level Change: Just like it sounds this is all about changing elevation, be it a squatting or deadlifting type motion. Gravity is a big player in the game of mastering level change. It's the one force in the world we can never escape and it's always working against us. Natural movements like picking something up off of the ground and getting out of a chair are perfect examples of level change in daily life. In the gym these can be some of the "biggest" bang for your buck movements we do so emphasizing level change is a must! Here you can also start to see how pillars cross over as you could have locomotion with level change, i.e. walking lunges.
3) Push/Pull: This pillar is commonly used to describe movements relative to the upper body such as pushups and rows although we can use it for lower as well. Relative to the upper body it's important to understand and train the differences that exist in pushing and pulling with one or both hands at the same time. Unilateral and bilateral pushes and pulls place different demands on the core and shoulder blades, all of which can be enhanced through the variety offered in this pillar. Most of us need more pulling than pushing so focus on those rows!
4) Rotation: Easily the most undertrained of the four, rotation is at the essence of human movement! With over 80% of our muscles being positioned in a horizontal or at least slightly diaganol pattern it's no wonder that few movements occur without some rotation in the body. The first pillar of locomotion such as walking or running would be impossible without the countermovements of your arms and legs and rhythmic rotation of the core. Exercises to train this? Think band and cable rotations, medicine tosses, and stability ball log rolls just to name a few.
If you aren't able to make it into our G+O Fitness Classes then do your best to integrate these concepts into your workout programs and keep your eye out for more in depth blogs coming on each of these 4 Pillars.
Over and out!