If you asked me, when I first started off in the fitness and performance industry, what was the key to building great strength and muscle, I am 99.9% sure I would have told you “lifting heavy”. After all, that seems to make sense if we apply greater load to the body we will get strong and perform better right? Well, it isn’t that simple after all.
One of the biggest questions I never asked was “how are we using the load?” If we are perfectly balanced, if we are using a perfectly balanced weight, and putting the weight in a perfectly balanced position on our body, we are going to see more weight being used and we THINK that is going to get us better strength training results. Does it though?
You might have heard more and more recently people talking about the idea of cross patterning. That is typically where we think how the right arm/left leg and left arm/right leg work together. This concept can easily be seen when we walk, run, etc. It is a natural movement pattern our body uses both to create stability and force at the same time. Walking, for example, is often defined as “controlled falling”, so we need stability to balance on one leg, resist forces trying to alter our position, as well as strength and power to catch ourselves and propel us through space. A lot more challenging than most people think.
It is this reason that good strength training programs for areas of the body like the shoulder should use the core and lower body as well, because they are all connected!
Cross patterning can really be thought of as the diagonal chains that exist in our body as you see above. They are ALWAYS active, but there are ways to highlight and challenge them more than we typically think about in our strength training programs. Why do so though? Why NOT just do the “typical” strength training program since these chains are always active?
Well, an actually a study going back to the 80’s gave us some pretty shocking reasons why. When they compared both performance and strength training gains of people using traditional weight training to those that used these diagonal patterns they found that the group that used the diagonal pattern methods actually gained MORE strength AND better performance.
Cool, but you care about using strength training to build muscle right? Well, what if I told you that you work WAY more muscles by using these concepts as well! If we look at how many muscles are involved in these chains you see we have a much MORE efficient and effective training program when we think about using our strength training to train qualities like cross patterning.
Those are WAY more muscles than you would see trained in the average strength training exercise at the gym. That is over 22 muscles being worked at once. That seems like a good way of building strength, muscle, mobility, and performance right? But how do we do it? Coaches Greg Perlaki and Cari Satre give some great examples below…
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