How does what you do in the gym relate to your lifestyle outside of fitness? What is the practical application of weight training and what relates it to your day-to-day lifestyle?
It goes without saying that there is a significant draw towards the physique changes that happen with a consistent and challenging routine in the gym. However, an important goal for a trainer is that their client leaves the gym feeling better in how their body moves after their session than how they felt before.
Our bodies were designed to move explosively, climb, run, and jump but we don’t use them the way we did centuries ago. Many of the movements that are now done are with compensations due to lack of strength and stability. These compensations increase the risk of injury. A root cause of this lack of strength is that our body is simply not trained to support itself anymore. The old adage is true, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
When you look at a typical workout program it is often structured with a lower body compound lift – possibly a deadlift or squat. The program will also have some pushes and pulls, like pushups, and bent over rows for example. Some cable pull downs or pull ups will engage supporting muscles such as the core and our lats. Some accessory exercises such as mobility drills will increase range of motion and improve our ability to attain good body positioning before going into a lift. Stability drills which is a fancy term for core training targeting the muscles around your stomach will strengthen your ability to brace and to keep you from compromising you form.
High performance body mechanics are no longer needed to hunt for food, or survive in the wild
Through innovation and adaptation, we don’t use our body in the ways that we once did.
We now consider a highly functioning body to be something for professional athletes when it would have once been much more common out of lifestyle necessity.
With a great deal of our time spent seated, or supported by a backrest, we have lost touch with proper posture (neutral spine positioning) and our external obliques are often underutilized as a result. We continue to see other compromises through our lack of core stability. With a weak core, it is common to find yourself out of a neutral position. Being out of neutral position means you are likely arching through your low back or hunching forward with your shoulders and neck. You don’t have to be working out to feel the affects of a poor spinal alignment.
An additional factor to consider is the affect these adaptations have on our mobility. The body will adapt to give you the best case scenario in whatever position you find yourself in. If you are compensating your spinal position, flexed through any region, your body will find strength in that position by adapting to limit your spinal mobility. This is what can cause what we see as bad posture. Essentially, your vertebrae will fuse in a position to create as much stability as possible in what is essentially vulnerable spinal position.
Poor posture leads to the incorrect muscles working overtime
For example, deadlifts are a great exercise that when done with good form would engage nearly all the muscles in the lower body. The deadlift will also engage almost all the upper body muscles. However, without the proper positioning, you are more likely to feel the exercise dominantly in your back. Think about lifting your kids or neices or nephews up off the floor as an example of this. You’d rather do this without pain, right?
A hunched over posture which is often rooted from working at a desk or not cross training with a sport such as cycling can become the origin of many other muscle aches or injuries in the lower back as well as in the shoulders.
The practical application of training is designed to strengthen and support your day-to-day life
We want to be able to live out our lives lifting our grand kids to the top of the slide or helping our friends move to their new place without feeling pain. We want to be able to go to a boxing class without feeling pain in our shoulder or go to a spin class without lower back pain the next day. We want to have the prerequisites to use all of our muscles rather than overloading a compensating muscle. It’s about being able to mow your lawn for an hour and not laying on your couch in agony the following afternoon.
At the end of the day we all just want to live our lives to the fullest and be as happy as possible.