Dr. den Boer and I recently gave a seminar on fitness, form, and function as a guide to summer activity. There’s a brilliance in the basics that is rarely appreciated in today’s world of “gains” over function and form. Traditional weightlifting has a crucial role in any fitness regiment, but should supplement other workout strategies. Bodyweight exercises are my go-to exercises to improve tone, functionality, and strength. During my time in the Marine Corps, weights were never a part of our training regiment. Instead training was a mixture of endurance and high intensity bodyweight exercises. Don’t get me wrong; most exercise is good, but there are a few ways in which bodyweight exercise truly shines.
Optimization of Fascial Elasticity and Integrity
Did you know that your thumb is connected to your chest muscles? Or your big toe to the muscles in the back of your neck that move your head? Our movement is initiated by a web of neuromyofascia. Our muscles are merely contractile centers, in an interconnected network of fibrous, elastic tissue termed “fascia” which is deeply intertwined with almost every cell in our body.
There is a line of fascia that ties into our big toe muscles, plantar fascia, achilles tendon, calf muscles, hamstring, glutes, back muscles and neck. The same goes for the front of the body and the arms. There are spiral lines and side lines; lines that supercharge rotational and cross-body movements, and lines that support and improve lateral movements . Bodyweight exercises are dynamic, full body movements that utilize and improve this crucial network of fascia, diminishing chance of injury and optimizing functional movements of everyday living.
Enhanced Core Activation
Our core is so much more than that ever-elusive six pack, which is really just the product of a single muscle - the rectus abdominis. Real core stabilization requires the activation of a handful of main muscles and dozens of secondary muscles. It requires proper diaphragmatic breathing and glute activation (glute inhibition contributes to lower cross syndrome, low back pain, and sciatica).
Core activation is a crucial component of any movement, as every single fascial line ties into core musculature. Bodyweight workouts activate the core in ways that are rare to find in traditional weight workouts. During a bench press, the core is supported by the bench. During a pushup, the core is fully activated, supporting itself. No weight workout can mimic a sprint, which activates every line of fascia in our bodies.
It’s Non-Repetitive and Creative
It’s easy to get caught in a rut when lifting weights. You have your days: back and biceps day, chest and triceps day, and a leg day. You have a routine that hits those muscle groups in a variety of ways and you don’t really deviate from it. When an exercise gets too easy, you throw some extra weight on the bar and continue with the routine. A few muscle groups and tendons have gotten big and strong, but others have atrophied and gotten weaker, opening one up for injury.
When a bodyweight exercise gets too easy, you have to get creative. You have to change the lever arm, change the angle of the exercise, or discover a new workout that’s more difficult to perform. You’ll have to find ways to increase the instability of the movement, to engage more muscle groups. You may have to graduate from calisthenics (basic bodyweight exercises) to plyometrics (explosive bodyweight movements such as box jumps, broad jumps, clapping pushups, muscle-up pull-ups - the list goes on and on). Then, there’s the whole world of partner workouts, which really gets the competitive juices flowing and opens up a whole new series of exercises available.
Movements to Master
- Hip hinge:
- Hinging at the hip ensures low back protection and proper glute activation.
- A movement crucial in getting up from a chair, out of a car, or picking something up from the floor.
- We use this movement in climbing stairs, running, or climbing a hill.
- The ability to properly use the shoulder girdle, pec muscles, and triceps to push an object, either forward or overhead, is critical in activities of daily living.
- This movement activates the superficial and deep back lines of myofascia.
- We use rotational and crossbody movements when we fasten a seatbelt, shovel, golf, play tennis, or even rollover in bed.
- A surprisingly difficult full-body movement that requires strength and balance.
Our personal trainer and fitness guru, Blake, has a full arsenal of ways to train these movements and maximize performance. I’d highly recommend setting up an appointment with him for individualized assessment and training. When maximizing performance, there’s a few supplements that we really recommend:
Ultra Potent-C: Our vitamin C is as ascorbyl palmitate, which makes it fat soluble absorbed at higher rates that ascorbic acid. Ascorbyl palmitate is a powerful antioxidant that is incorporated into the membrane of red blood cells, protecting them from the oxidative stress of intense exercise .
Endura: Endura is a medical grade sports recovery drink. It has the perfect balance of electrolytes to help settle the GI tract, promote recovery, and diminish soreness .
Inflavonoid: Tumeric has been used for centuries as a panacea for many conditions ranging from inflammation to cancer. Over 3000 studies have been published, just in the past 25 years, speaking to its positive effects. This is an ideal supplement to improve muscle healing and reduce post-workout soreness. The turmeric and fenugreek combination in Inflavonoid is patented and proven to increase absorption by 39 fold .
CollaGEN: Utilizing state-of-the art manufacturing processes, CollaGEN is the one of the most bioavailable collagen-building supplements on the market. This is perfect for strengthening and rebuilding tendons, cartilage, and ligaments .
Check out our seminar for more info on workouts, supplements, and diet!
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