Foundations of Strength Training
By Mike Dorr ACW Personal Trainer
Your body has fundamental movements that it performs for daily life activities. I believe it is pivotal to hit these movement patterns in some shape or form during a strengthening session.
1. Pushing Movements
2. Pulling Movements
4. Lunging, Gait, and or walking
5. Rotational Movements
6. Hinging from the hips
1. Pushing Movements - The pushup, floor press/ bench press, anytime you producing force away from your chest, you will get assistance from the shoulders and triceps but those are not the primary movers. Your chest should be the dominant force producer. Those movements are horizontal, but we also need to push vertical and or at different angles...ie. (Overhead pressing, dips and chest incline press). Remember the body needs stress to create a stimulus and or adaptation so if you are doing something that is not that difficult the body has a difficult time adapting. So adjusting the weight can make a difference, we want to create fatigue and stress (in a good way) to those muscles we are trying to work.
2. Pulling Movements - The pull-up, lat cable pulldowns, band pulldowns all vertical pull movements, bent over rows, TRX rows, seated cable rows are all an example of horizontal pull movements. These movements will also stimulate the biceps but again that is an accessory muscle, not the primary mover. Remember in pulling movements we want to keep the shoulders down and squeeze the shoulder blades towards the spinal cord.
3. Squat Movements - Barbell squats, dumbbell squats, kettlebell squats, and bodyweight squats are examples of sitting down. This movement is good for the Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings and Hips and is essential is daily life activities. Remember, anytime we squat with a load we want to be centered in our feet and not rolling to our toes as that can cause stress to the knees. Taking different approaches to the way your feet are can create different good stress to different muscles of the legs. Trying with feet shoulder-width, wide stance and feet somewhat close together can be beneficial to muscular development in the legs. We do not want our knees to cave inside during a squat, think about pushing knees out and knee caps tracking your toes.
4. Lunging Movements - Lunging is a great movement for conditioning the body to walk, climb a mountain, running and really any type of sport we can do. Lunges forward, reverse lunges, side (lateral) lunges, and step-ups are different forms of lunges that can be performed. If you have trouble stabilizing, use some support with your hands until you get better. It usually means you cannot stabilize your core when you drop down into your lunge.
5. Rotation - When we walk, run, or play any type of sport are body is in rotation most of the time. We can rotate thru are Thoracic region (shoulder region) or from the hips. Woodchops, cable rotations, and turning the torso is good to do with weight or just with your body.
6. Hinge Movements - Some would we hinge when we squat, we push are hips back and down. But the hinge movement is more of pushing are hips back and not so much down. It loads the hips, glutes, and hamstrings. The problem we can get into when we hinge is when are back rounds and are spine goes into flexion under load. This can cause back and shoulder stress (negative), so we must activate many muscles in the back to stabilize the spine, keeping it in a neutral position. The deadlift, the kettlebell swing, and hip thrusts are great exercises to strengthen the posterior chain of our body. There is nothing wrong with flexion in are spine if it is not under stress, ie. stretching, cat/cow but when we are picking things up off the ground we want the back to be stabilized, neutral, and lift with are legs by pushing thru the ground with our feet. Finishing the movement with are hips finishing the extension of the hip. Start with lighter weight, grab the load, pull the shoulders down and back and then use the legs and hips to lift the weight.
I hope this gives you a blueprint of how you can approach a basic strength program trying to hit all of these fundamental movement patterns. Again, start light and add weight as needed. If you are just starting, do not overload the body and make sure your movements are solid. Then you can increase the load as your body adapts to different stressors. Remember, your core should always be active during any movement.
Stay healthy, keep moving, structure your day, and stay consistent while at home or outside!