Staying fit and strong is part of living a healthy lifestyle. For most people this means a visit to the gym at some point. Anyone who has set foot in a gym will know that exercise selection isn’t a simple thought process. Should I try the workout I just saw in that fitness magazine? What about the person I saw at the gym the other day…should I do what they’re doing? Maybe I should just start with running and see what happens? Navigating your way through this mind field of questions can be challenging.
Keep It Simple
After working as a trainer for 15 years, I’ve returned to a simple framework of 6 movements that form the blueprint for almost every workout session I have with my clients. Working as an Osteopath, I take a movement-based approach to injury rehabilitation. I use specific adaptations of this blueprint with almost all of my patients to help create a more robust frame and remind them that movement is safe. These 6 movement patterns can be found within our activities of daily living. They can be adapted for injury recovery or general strength & conditioning, and they can be performed with minimal to no equipment.
6 Basic Movements
- Squatting – one of the most effective movements for improving strength and mobility in the legs while maintaining upper tension and control. Involved in basic everyday movements such as getting in and out of a car, getting up and down from a chair etc. Exercise Variations: Back squats, Front dumbbell squats, Overhead squats, Single-leg squats.
- Lunging – an exaggerated version of walking by adding depth to the stride maintaining a narrow base of support which develops strength and stability. Involved in several activities of daily living such as climbing up and down stairs and bending down to reach for something on the floor or a low shelf. Exercise Variations: Walking lunges, Lateral lunges, Clock lunges
- Deadlifting – is a hip dominant movement that involves the coordinated effect of primarily the muscles that help us stand up. The ultimate anti-sitting movement demanding more core tension than almost any other isolated abdominal exercise. Involved in any activity that requires us to bend at the hips e.g. loading the dish washer, picking up/dropping off shopping bags, putting on socks or pants, gardening, brushing our teeth etc. Exercise Variations: Sumo deadlifts, Single-leg deadlifts, Stiff-leg deadlifts.
- Pushing – requires good control through your shoulder blade and deep abdominal muscles, while strengthening the muscles around your chest, shoulders and arms. Involved in activities that require us to push ourselves up from the floor, putting something on a high shelf, moving furniture around, and to some degree using a hairdryer or an iron. Exercise Variations: Push-ups, Bench press, Overhead press, Dips.
- Pulling – one of the primary methods of strengthening your back, arms and shoulders while improving stability and control of your trunk muscles. Involved in activities such as walking and running where the arms are pulled back, opening doors, picking bags up off the floor. Exercise Variations: Pull-ups, Bent over rows, Seated rows, Single arm rows, Lateral pulldowns.
- Twisting – more than likely the most fundamental of all human movements. As our shoulders and hips rotate in opposite directions during walking. The tension created through twisting is what helps propel us forward in a balanced and energy efficient manner. Twisting is involved is absolutely everything we do. Exercise Variations: Standing cable rotations, Medicine ball abdominal twists
A Note On Context
The way you perform the movements and exercises mentioned above will be context specific. This means that how you squat as part of a workout in the gym will be slightly different to how you get on and off of a chair. However regardless of context, these movements will help increase your bone density, joint health, tendon thickness and muscle diameter. So, whether your trying to strengthen your low back after an injury or simply want to feel a little stronger and have more confidence in your body, consider this approach when planning your next workout and let me know how it goes!
*Questions around variables such as technique, frequency, intensity, duration and volume will require further discussion. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer questions via email or book a free consultation with you.