I love to ask fitness pros and strength coaches one simple question…
“What is the one movement our body is MOST created specifically designed to perform?”
You see the eyes go into their thinking position, some touch their chin, others put their hands on their hips as most of us have never been asked such a question.
“SQUAT!” one person yells out.
“No, deadlift!” another replies.
Seeing me shake my head immediately let’s them know we aren’t going the right direction. Then someone mumbles it, “what’s that I ask?” “walking” someone inevitably says soft spoken. CORRECT, I reply and everyone seems somewhat shocked!
NONE of us have probably gone into the gym thinking, “today is going to be a hardcore walking day!” Not like we have said, “chest day”, “squat workout”, you name it. However, the truth is that is exactly what our body is most specifically designed to do. In fact, when I start to explain to coaches how the body is designed I come across images like this…
What you notice about this image showing how the body is connected is that it all leads up to locomotion. So, the question begs to be asked, “how come we aren’t focusing our fitness and strength training on such principles and goals?” The most obvious answer is that most people don’t ever think about it with the second is that people don’t understand how the body actually works.
While going down that rabbit hole is too long for this post, there are some simple concepts that we can share. One is the idea that we need to train to both move and resist moving in different directions, most especially lateral motion.
Lateral strength training may not sound sexy, but it is a major focus of our Ultimate Sandbag fitness program because of what the science has shown us. Here are a few key facts you will want to know!
-The most common injury is a sprained ankle. While that seems not that big of a deal research shows that changes to the ankle impact the whole body especially the hips.
A 2006 study by Friel et al. demonstrated weaker gluteus medius strength on the same side in subjects with ankle instability.
“Analyses revealed that the pattern of muscle activation in subjects with previous injury differed markedly from normal control subjects, and that changes appeared to occur on both the uninjured and the injured sides of the body. A significant difference between the two groups was the delay in onset of activation of the gluteus maximus in previously injured subjects.”-Bullock-Saxton JE, Janda V, Bullock MI. The influence of ankle sprain injury on muscle activation during hip extension. Int J Sports Med 1994;15(6):330-334.
-Lateral Strength may be the easiest way to improve performance and injury resiliency as renowned spinal expert, Dr. Stuart McGill points out…
“Consider a 340 pound NFL lineman, who is strength trained in the weight room on Olympic lifts and power cleans. His coaches believe he is well trained. Yet the athlete has back pain that limits training. Measuring his cutting speed – the ability to take 5 fast strides forward, plant a foot and cut to the right reveals his great weakness and strength imbalance. The pelvis drops on the swing leg side and the spine bends laterally. He reports a twinge of pain. All of his strength training has been performed with two legs on the ground. All of the pulls, lifts and presses never trained the core in 3-dimensions. The weak link is limiting his performance and causing stress and pain….This example demonstrates that the hip muscles were limited by a weaker lateral core. Specifically, the gluteal muscles on the stance leg were confined by the lateral core muscles on the swing leg side of the body – in this case the lateral obliques and quadratus lumborum. Good training always addresses the elements that assist and potentiate one another throughout the body linkage. The core is home base for strength and speed.”
Okay, so how do we do it? In our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness program we believe it is about knowing where to start and where you are going! So, we start in the easiest positions and move the most difficult! One of the best places to start is building that side plank like Jessica and I show below. You will see how Ultimate Sandbag fitness strategies give you some unique opportunities to build better strength and movement.
We don’t live on the ground and we need that foot to become more active that is why progressions that look simple in our Ultimate Sandbag fitness program like DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows are real powerhouses!
You see this is just building into the really good stuff and where Ultimate Sandbag fitness workouts really shine compared to others. We keep building, systematically over time, but we keep the same goal. The result? We end up with amazing exercises that people like fitness expert Rachel Cosgrove and coach Tony Cress show in these two great examples of lateral strength training. Rachel shows both moving through and resisting lateral motion while Tony has taken the concepts of our Half Kneeling Arc Press that Cory demonstrated above and makes it more dynamic.
These are the keys to real functional training. Understanding what our body is actually asked to do in real life and how it creates movement to create workouts that match it! Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs aren’t about teaching you to be good at “sandbags” they are about teaching you what making strength come to life is all about!
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