Since the beginning of fitness time the movement has always been focused on looking a certain way or having a certain amount of muscle definition. However, over the last few years, the movement is shifting to being able to move well. The thought is no longer training muscle but training movement. So let’s unpack this a little more in detail.

What do I mean by training muscle? This concept is most compared to a traditional bodybuilding routine. Bodybuilders need their muscles to look a certain way so that when they step out onto the stage the judges are able to see each and every muscle in its perfection. In order to achieve this status, of very defined muscle definition, it takes very dialed in nutrition and workout programs. However, this way of training is not sustainable for the average, everyday gym goer. The amount of time that needs to be dedicated to achieve those specific looks is very challenging. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong or improper about this style of training. I actually commend those that have achieved this high level of muscle definition. For those high level athletes it is incredibly impressive. But like I mentioned for your typical gym goer or fitness enthusiast, it is extremely challenging. I used to work out with a few bodybuilders, I even at one point thought about competing. However, as I dove into that lifestyle, I quickly realized that it was not for me. Training twice a day for upwards of 2 hours a time to trying to work on complete carbohydrate depletion. It is crazy what these athletes put themselves through. Yet, still impressive the level of discipline that they have.

The shift if happening. As fitness professionals, we need to start looking at our clients as a whole. Looking at how we elevate and upscale their daily functions. Our goal should be to help our clients live longer, healthier lives. How we do this is by training movements not muscles. What do I mean when I say movements? There are 6 human movement patterns that we go through almost every single day, multiple times a day. Those movement patterns are squat, hinge (deadlift), lunge, push, pull, rotation. If our clients can effectively move through these patterns without aches, pains or stiffness then we have been successful. By creating programming around these movement patterns, we are setting our clients up to better carry groceries into the house, play with kids or grandkids longer, or simply be able to tie their shoes. At some point we take these, what we may think now, simple tasks for granite. We forget that as our body age we lose our mobility, stability and strength to complete these everyday items. It has never been more important than now to start training for these things. To start building our strength so that one day we will not ever have to worry about the recovery process if we fall. Heck, we won’t even have to worry about getting up off the ground, it would be second nature. These are the ways that we should be training ourselves and our clients. But let’s take it a step farther. If our programs focused on these movements patterns, I can almost guarantee that we would see things like greater muscle definition. All because we trained our muscles in the proper ways that they should move. When we do that, we open our bodies ability to do more things than we could ever have imagined. I think back to a time when one of my clients was a pretty frequent traveler. She would go on all these amazing, lavished hikes during her trips. But as she got older, she became fearful that she would need to start canceling them or really just stop scheduling them. She mentioned to me once that she felt she should shift to planning beach vacations over her hiking trips. All because she was afraid that as she got older, her body wouldn’t allow her to keep up. From that initial conversation, I knew that she needed to do more fundamental movements where we focused on the human movement patterns, but we also challenged them on different surfaces. This gave her the strength and confidence to continue on her hiking vacations. But not only did she achieve this confidence, she also lost weight in the process. Which I should add was one of her goals as well. We should be bringing this kind of confidence to our clients everyday.

So the time is now! Time to change from training muscle to training movements.

Author: Alexandra Chin

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