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The Most Important Type of Strength Training Most Miss!


Hopefully you are starting to get back into your routine from the holidays. I think one of the best ways to get excited again to work towards your fitness goals is to have some great training ideas. That’s why I hope this blog on the type of strength training that is SO important, but few ever train will be one of those times of inspiration.

When we think of being strong, I believe most of us think of an image of ourselves struggling to finish that final repetition. The feeling of picking up a weight that you thought maybe was impossible is very addicting. Even though most of us think of lifting a big weight as being really strong, it is another type of strength training that actually makes us more injury resilient and able to really keep making progress.

What could such a mysterious type of strength be? Your ability to RESIST motion could easily be the most important type of strength training you could focus upon in your training. I know, I know, no one ever posted a personal record of resisting any type of weight, so why am I saying something so odd?

In life, in sport, we move in three planes of motion. We climb, run, dive, and perform all sorts of complex patterns that require us to be able to navigate these three planes. This is an important concept because when we are moving we are going through one plane while often having to resist the other. A simple example could be found in walking.

strength training

During locomotive actions like walking we see our opposite arm and leg swing at the same time. This ism’t by accident as this motion uses these motions to both stabilize our spine while optimizing some rotation to help project us through space. If we didn’t use these connections in the body to help resist unwanted movement we would see our torso rotating in extreme ways and our arms flopping around. That is what is difficult to explain to people why functional training is so different. You need a complex interplay of muscles working at the right time, doing different things to perform movement so answering the question of “what muscle does that work?” is often impossible and not the point of functional strength training.

You see, if we aren’t strong enough to resist unwanted motion, we get excessive stress on joints, we can start overloading different structures in our body, and we would be far less efficient with our movement. There are obvious health and strength training benefits to focusing on such concepts, but we also use more muscles and therefore have a better chance to build MORE of the body up and expend more calories. Win-win proposition right?

Teaching people how their muscles work together make for what functional fitness is really trying to achieve in our strength training.

People can usually get on board with these ideas when it comes to things like planks. Whether it is crawling patterns, kettlebell renegade rows, or even our DVRT lateral drags, it seems like when it comes to learning we want to hold that plank while resisting movement is great because it uses MORE of our core muscles in the way they were designed to function.

strength training

Sadly though, we rarely see people use these concepts in any other drills or movement patterns. That is BIG mistake because in using these strength training ideas for ANY movement pattern will enhance what we can get out of them and how much more efficient we make our training. Here are a few ways we can use these important strength training concepts better in our training.

Use More Diagonal Patterns

There are some that are familiar with diagonal patterns, especially those that are called lifts/chops, when it comes to some corrective exercise training. However, their application to serious strength training should also be considered. As renown strength coach, Mike Boyle explains…

“Physical therapists began to realize these diagonal patterns of extension and rotation were a vital part of movement and started to use them to provide a more real-world aspect to rehab. Specialists in rehab began to understand movement is multi-planar, and the highest form of rehab involved diagonal patterns of flexion and extension combined with rotation.

Thomas Myers in Anatomy Trains discusses what he calls the spiral and functional lines of the body, while Janda made us aware of the integrated workings of the musculature across the critical junction from the glutes to the opposite-side lat. This area, known as the thoracolumbar fascia, along with the hip joints, allows us to move force from the ground to the extremities.”

While I show you how we use lifts/chops in some of our lunges, these are also great ways to add them into our hip hinge and power training.

Move In Different Patterns

Fitness is usually an industry of extremes. You will find some VERY goofy exercises just in the name of functional strength training (which is usually isn’t) and you have those that believe you can just do the same squats, deadlifts, and presses and that’s all you need. As with most things, the truth is in the middle of such a discussion. What most don’t understand is moving in a different plane needs to be thought of as progressive as any other training variable like weights and reps. In reality, most people just do some random change to an exercise in moving another way and don’t realize it could be like adding 50 pounds to a drill or asking to 30 more reps.

We would never consider such ideas as good ones, but it happens all the time when we talk about moving in different directions. Why is doing so important for our strength training programs? While we could learn to deadlift just moving up and down, our brain and body don’t automatically know how to translate that to doing so while moving forward, or laterally or example. Therefore, we need to train our nervous system to understand how that movement is coordinated differently when we change such variables.

Jessica shows how we expand the number of exercises really available to us in a pattern when we have purpose to manipulating these strength training variables. 

We should be interested in how much we can lift, but we should equally be focused upon how well we lift a weight and if we do so in more complex patterns that build up our functional capacity. What DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki shows is how we can continue to build upon these ideas for some pretty impressive forms of dynamic strength training.

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