Get Ready for Summer the Correct Way!

I recently saw an article in a muscle building magazine that promoted a solution for building bigger legs while entirely avoiding squats. Think about that for a second. Squats, a movement that babies perform before they can walk, were entirely absent from this training protocol. If a client of mine asked how to get big legs, I would probably recommend squats within the first sentence. The author was clearly interested in “helping” people who found squats painful, uncomfortable or physically impossible. But the human body is supposed to be able to do squats. In the book Movement physical therapist, trainer and author Gray Cook considers an inability to reach a deep overhead squat a movement disorder. No matter how much muscle these leg-pressing-magazine-subscribers build up, it will not allow them to regain the ability to squat properly. That is my biggest issue with the “get big at all cost mentality.” Adding inches and inches of muscle onto a body that cannot move through fundamental patterns is a flawed mentality. The newly muscled body might look better, but it won’t be able to move better and it is actually more likely to endure an injury when an activity, sport or life demands movement. You would never mount a sports car’s body on a clunkers engine and then ask that “new and improved” clunker to go 200 miles per hour; the machine is more likely to blow up than succeed in the task. As ridiculous as this would be, people bent on getting ready for the beach follow a similar path all too frequently. Resistance training has numerous health and performance benefits but you do need to take specific actions to safely reach your goals through resistance training.

If you are interested in getting in shape, toning or bulking up before summer, understand that safe movement requires a sound foundation of mobility and stability before strength or size can even be addressed. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move pain-free through its entire range of motion. Stability is the ability to resist motion at joint or part while displaying body control through a movement. Test yourself or ask a Personal Fitness Trainer to screen your fundamental movement patterns such as squatting, lunging, twisting, reaching and bending. The book Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook offers a user friendly screen to see how well you are moving. If you discover limitations, consider meeting with a Personal Fitness Trainer to get corrective exercises that can get you moving properly. Finally, remember to take advantage of the Seattle Athletic Club’s great programs, such as Beach Body and Systematic Hypertrophy, designed to safely build a better looking and functioning body. Systematic Hypertrophy, a new class beginning in May offers an efficient, scientifically sound approach to building mobility, stability and muscle mass. Beach Body is available with varying degrees of support and offers tough workouts designed for people who are moving well through most fundamental patterns. Which ever route you choose, remember that the Personal Fitness staff is here to offer you assurance that you are making smart, efficient decisions with your body.

For more information about either program or questions regarding fundamental movement and movement screening, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer or 206-443-1111 ext. 274.

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