I have noticed something, and I am concerned about what I'm seeing.
There seems to be quite a few people who can lift heavy weights, but who struggle a great deal with body weight movements. While these people are certainly strong, what I am seeing is a drastic lack of range of motion, imbalance of strength on one side of the body compared to the other, balance issues, extremely tight muscles and increased lack of flexibility.
It's impressive for anyone maneuver through a tough workout with a lot of heavy lifting, but I'm worried that there is not enough emphasis being placed on body weight movements such as unweighted squats, lunges, glute bridges, push ups, planks etc. The reason I'm worried, is because this lack of body control, flexibility and balance will likely lead to injuries. And injuries so often lead to missing workouts and subsequently giving up on a fitness plan. As a fitness professional, my goal for my clients is to help them establish a fitness plan that they will practice for the rest of their life so that they can achieve health, strength and longevity of life.
When it comes to training clients, I am of the belief that we have to start where we are. What does that mean?
Starting from where you are means, beginning a fitness program from your current fitness level and building upon that each week. Your current fitness level can be assessed by an experienced Personal Trainer. One who can quickly gauge your strength, flexibility, mobility and stability and determine the best training program for you based on where you are in the fitness continuum. Effective training programs designed to improve strength, flexibility, mobility, and stability PRIOR to heavy lifting, set clients up for long term success. Not only will you be addressing what needs to be addressed for your safety during workouts and every day tasks, but you will be setting a strong foundation for adding load and lifting with great form and efficiency when you're ready for it. We have to remember that we can't run before we can walk.
One of the biggest benefits to body weight exercises is the immediate feedback you get internally. Feedback in noticing imbalances of strength on one side of the body vs the other, or tightness in one muscle group and a weakness in the other. The heavy weight lifter is likely not going to notice a weakened core, for example. The person squatting 200 lbs is likely not going to notice tight hip flexors unless they are very experienced. The person who's new to the fitness game, is going to be so hyper focused on getting that heavy weight lifting session completed, that they're going to miss the signals from their body that clue us in to the potential injuries. Maybe you don't even care if you get injured? Right now you don't. But trust me, you will care when you're sitting in your Dr.'s office waiting to be seen.
I get it. You want to lift heavy weights because lifting heavy weights makes you feel like you've accomplished something. You've seen ripped people post videos from the gym lifting heavy and you want to look like that too.
I'm asking you to let go of your ego for just a moment. Let go of what you think you want to look like, and ask yourself what are you really accomplishing by lifting all this heavy weight, when a performing a set of modified pushups is nearly impossible to do? And what if I told you that you CAN change your body composition with body weight movements? In fact, what if I told you that you would likely see results quicker if you focused on mastering body weight movements FIRST, with great form, and on all planes of movement, prior to adding weight to those movements? What if I told you that mastering these movements builds core strength much faster than heavy lifting does? And what if I told you that core strength is the foundation of your overall fitness and will help you lift with great form and efficiency when the time comes to start lifting? Look, there's a reason form is important and it's not to look good performing an exercise. Proper form is for your safety and leads to longevity in your exercise practice.
Once you get to the point where you are ready to add weight, be sure to check your ego again. Start light. As you adapt, increase the weights by a couple lb's at a time. Keep your focus on good form and moving through the full range of motion of each exercise. Even once you've added weights to your fitness plan, be sure to revisit the body weight movements on a regular basis. Think of it as a sort of body check-in and tuning into that internal feedback. If you do this, you will be in this fitness game, and enjoying it, for the rest of your life. And isn't that what we ALL want, after all?
Head over to Instagram or Facebook to check out one of my favorite body weight movements in today's posts.
Keep Moving, friends!
Power. Strength. Movement