Whether it’s crossfit, soul cycle, or water aerobics, exercise is essential to your physical and mental health.
Two principles should be prioritized when it comes to exercise:
- Think movements over muscles.
- Full range of motion.
Think Movements Over Muscles
Whether you’re playing football or running away from a bear in the woods, you don’t gain a strategic advantage by having larger biceps. Your advantage lies in performing a variety of different movements well.
Throwing with your arm or running with your legs, jumping over opponents and logs or climbing a tree are skills trained through movements–not isolating muscle groups. Exercise should mimic what nature prioritizes.
Now, if you’re reading this the chances of you playing another football game or being chased by a bear are slim. But the principle applies. Exercise inside the gym should benefit your life outside of it. Therefore, think and train movements, not muscles.
Full Range of Motion
Too often I see older and deconditioned individuals modify movements by shortening the range of motion. I see this most often with push-ups, squats, and sit-ups (i.e. crunches). When exercising, you want to put your muscles and joints through full ranges of motion.
Shortening the distance your body must travel through atrophies function. This is why sports doctors and physical therapists help athletes bend and extend their knees as soon as possible after ACL injuries.
If you can’t perform a functional movement due to strength, modify the load. Never modify the distance.
Prioritize movement patterns, not muscle groups.
Additionally, always take your muscles and joints through a full range of motion.