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As a trainer, my intention is to build solid movement patterns into my clients. This is done by ingraining each movement into the nervous system with high repetitions and perfect form. A good test of solid body movement is to have a client perform the same exercise multiple times. Try to notice if each repetition looks exactly the same from the standpoint of stability and form.

You’ll know if the movement is not firing properly if the majority of reps don’t look similar.

The biggest question that comes up in the fitness world is “what’s the best exercise”? This phrase can be dangerous because it leads to a search for the latest workout trend or flashy new program. And even I’ve been guilty of getting caught up in the idea that whatever workout looks “cool'' will get me noticed. But after studying movement and watching a variety of individuals exercise, I’ve noticed that less, really is more. After completing “Primal Movement Patterns”, a course by Paul Chek of the C.H.E.K. Institute, I also learned what matters most. The best movements are the ones you were built to do. Looking at the human structure and the movements we were built to perform, you can categorize them into several different sections.

  • Pushing: Pushups, bench presses, Med Ball throws, and any motion that causes you to press away from a surface.

  • Pulling: Pull-ups, rows, dragging objects, and any motion that causes you to get closer to what you’re grasping

  • Bending: Romanian deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, Jefferson curls, and any motion that keeps the legs only slightly bent while you pick up an object in front of you.

  • Twisting: Cable chops, rotational throws, landmine work, and any motion where your body is moving in the transverse plane (think rotational movements found in sports like golf, tennis, and baseball).

  • Squatting: Goblet squats, front squats, back squats, and any motion where you have both feet planted as you bend your knees creating a 90 degree angle with your legs.

  • Lunging: Reverse lunges, Bulgarian split lunges, side lunges, and any motion where you find yourself bending both legs while getting separation from each.

The reason why most of your workout should consist of this type of functional training, versus using only machines, is simply stability. You can use machines to perform your leg press, seated shoulder press, knee extensions, and other movements performed on closed circuit machines and still look and feel like you’re in shape. However, the problem is, you now have all this lean muscle and no stability (also known as a recipe for disaster). The risk of injury increases for tasks like stepping out of your car (loading all your weight onto a single leg), running down the stairs (a quick motion where you have to use stability), hanging Christmas lights on a ladder, and all other activities that require balance and stability. Ask yourself one simple question when you’re working out, “Does this resemble a motion my body needs in everyday life?”

When lifting using primal movements, not only does your ​​nervous system go into overdrive (it has to work harder when its environment isn’t as controlled, as it might be, for example, when using machines in your workout), but it also has a way of shaping the body into one that is exceptionally strong and lean. The increase in the mind-body connection into your muscles allows for deeper contractions which, in turn, builds denser muscle fiber or simply put, bigger muscles (hypertrophy).However, this doesn’t mean that doing some machines here and there is the end of the world by any means or unproductive. But, if you’re truly looking to get stronger not only in your workouts, but in your everyday life, building workouts consisting of primal movements is the way to go–prepare to decrease your chances of injury, look and feel stronger, and carry every single grocery bag from the car to the kitchen with ease.

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