🏋️ Why I don’t recommend typical gym routines, and what I would do instead . . .

Hey! – Rob here 👋🏼


Your Daily Health Fix today is about … 

Training Smart and Moving Well

Anyone who has worked with me directly over the years knows that I’m not a fan of typical gym workout structure or choice of exercises. My years of training rehab clients, post injury and surgery, repeatedly exposed me to cases of shoulder dislocations, neck pains, lower back irritations, along with endless hamstring and knee problems. Sometimes these injuries were caused directly by badly guided exercise programs, but in many cases, they were random injuries caused outside of the gym for which a return to the ‘same old’ exercise routine just exacerbated the problem.


That doesn’t mean that all traditional training or lifting programs are inherently bad (although many are), but it does highlight how the average fitness enthusiast could do with a more appropriate choice of training for their level of ability and current physical condition.


What happens all to often is that people (both men and women) develop a decent level of absolute strength, or quickly improve their cardio-aerobic endurance, but simultaneously neglect the foundations of a deep intrinsic strength and stability with solid and robust movement patterns. – And then pain or injury hits. They are forced to slow down or take a break, and the cycle repeats itself, sometimes multiple times per year for a decade or two, until the pain or inflammation gets too severe that they can’t face exercising at all.


I don’t need to tell you the consequences of not being able to move or function comfortably or the cascade of diminished health and worsened quality of life that usually follows suit.



Wait, What is traditional training?


The category is broad, but mostly includes typical weight training programs (like the A-B or A-B-C weekly rotations, or Pull, Push and Leg Days). 


Also in this category is the Crossfit style approach which has popularised Olympic style barbell exercises and traditional Russian Kettlebell routines.


Generally speaking, pilates, yoga and HIIT training (classes) also fall under the banner of typical or traditional training.



So, What is traditional training is good for?


  • Quickly gaining muscle mass.

  • Increasing absolute strength (the amount in Kg that you’re able to move or lift).

  • Achieving an athletic physique (regardless of athletic ability).

  • Increasing the physical length of a muscle (through passive flexibility).

  • Generally kicking your ass and making you sweat.



What traditional training (mostly) misses out


  • The foundational biological movement patterns of humans (standing, walking, running, fighting, carrying)

  • Posture and structural tensegrity

  • Practical mobility (in relation to human movement patterns)

  • Proportional muscle growth across joints and connective tissues

  • Proprioceptive abilities for good balance, safe landings, agility of movement and sharp reactions.



The concerns and dangers

There can be many benefits to using traditional exercises within a broader program, and I do that all the time in my own training and with many of my clients. However here’s a quick list of the reasons why I take a different approach.


  • An athletic physique is achievable as byproduct and a sign of a healthy body but by quickly gaining muscle mass without focussing on health promoting habits you are deceiving yourself and setting yourself up for injury. 

  • Muscle mass without well honed movement abilities and good mobility can be as uncomfortable and restricting as carrying excess body fat.

  • Disproportionate muscle mass across moving joints often impinges proper movement. Misaligned or poor movements over time lead to injury or chronic pain.

  • Passive flexibility or contortion (typically seen taught in yoga classes) can lead to permanently damaged ligaments, making it near on impossible to regain structural integrity later on.

  • Muscle flexibility without a functional mobility can often be more of a risk for injury than having short or restricted tissues.

  • Interval training at a high intensity too frequently and for long workout durations can lead to dis-regulation of the central nervous system, negatively impacting our cognition and our immune system.

  • All of the above often serve to degrade our movement patterns and prevent us from effectively running, throwing, fighting and carrying – our primary movements as human animals. 



An effective approach


First and foremost, health – approach your training from the perspective of achieving and maintaining health. If you desire a beach body (or even if you don’t), that will come as long as you are consistent with your exercise and movement routines in conjunction with a clean and optimal diet.


Improve your posture – as a matter of priority. That doesn’t just mean how tall you can stand, but your ability to de-compress your spine and elevate your ribcage, with your head stacked over your spine, and your pelvis rotated into a neutral or slightly posterially tilted position (PPT). Regaining this ability will enable you to develop more power and lift heavier things whilst reducing the risk of injury.


Learn to rotate. Being able to rotate well from the thoracic spine (middle back upwards) will play its part in making you a more efficient runner and thrower. For throwing, robust thoracic rotation will support efficient mechanics and protect your shoulders from abuse.


Fix your feet. From flat footedness, bunions, crushed up toes, or the inability to move your toes individually, without a strong and capable base, you really are getting off on the wrong foot. Ditch the shoes, or at least upgrade them, use toe spacers, perform toe and arch exercises and massage and manipulate your feet on a regular basis. Being barefoot more often has vast other health benefits too.


Get balanced – If you can’t control your body weight very well, you’re not ready for lifting excess weights. Practice balancing, on one leg, and then learning to jump, bound, change direction and land effectively, confidently and without pain.


Lastly – Lift Heavy. Once you’ve built a strong foundation, pick up some heavy things. Be cautious to progressively increase the weight slowly over time. Favour full body movements, and avoid putting your knees, hips or shoulders in positions or directions that they aren’t naturally supposed to go in. Remember it takes significantly longer for your bones and connective tissues to adapt to your newfound strength than it does for your major muscles to grow. Be patient, train smart.

. . . That’s it for this dose,


Until the next time – Stay Motivated!💪🏼




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