Don’t get swindled by the ads in your feed or the sponsored YouTube fitness programs. Nothing is new. The ancient people of the world did all the same movements the brand spanking new fitness franchise around your corner does today. The ancient armies of the world built warriors whose average fitness makes our modern elite athletes look quaint.
This is it folks: flex, extend, abduct, adduct, rotate, protract, retract, elevate, depress (we could add a few others, like supination, pronation, eversion, inversion, circumduction, opposition, reposition, dorsiflexion and plantarflexion). THAT. IS. IT.
The combinatorial patterns are myriad, especially when we get into HOW they’re performed. But fundamentally this will never change. And it has never changed.
As you go into the new year, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what salespeople call their repackaged fitness program - life will still require from you push, pull, lift, lower, and brace.
And I want to call your attention to one glaring deficit in most programs, aside from their obsession with marketing and advertising bombardment (ie - if your methodology is so substance-filled, why do I see your sponsored ads pop up constantly?): pulling.
Yes, pulling. Most athletic organizations (and I would agree) have determined that 2-to-1 people need pulling exercises. Why? Because our entire modern world is pushing. Head is forward. Shoulders are protracted. Hands are reaching ahead. Where’s the pulling?
This is no knock against popular fitness, by the way, UNLESS they claim to be an all-in comprehensive solution. But here’s the deal. There is NO progressive pulling in place for boxing/striking, body weight programs (unless you have a pull-up bar or tethers), cardio (unless rowing or swimming), yoga, Tai Chi, dance, Barre, and the list goes on and on. Are these modalities valuable? ABSOLUTELY. Yes. They are good. Do they have an obvious progression path to rectify pulling inadequacy? No.
I’ve coached high-level professional dancers and advanced instructors who are afraid to pick up their 30lb pets, because they may throw out their backs or dislocate a shoulder or get a neck tweak for days. I’m not exaggerating. They’re friggin superhumans with regard to all kinds of other feats; but when it comes to basic pulling skill and strength, they’re as undertrained as the sedentary populace. In forward pressing, they may hold a plank for an hour. They may warrior pose for days. Change a tire? Nope. Carry groceries? Sketchy. Don’t ask them to help you move your appliances or transport dirt and mulch for landscaping. Climb a rope, pull-ups, heavy rows or deadlift? Forget about it.
Heck, I’ve worked with a lot of people who instruct instructors but can’t safely walk their dogs. Seriously. They’re so weak and fragile in pulling that the light tug of their dog on a leash could mean orthopedic injury. These same people do handstands and splits and marathons.
I’m not saying that an overhead kick has zero application toward daily life, or that a full bridge isn’t cool. But if your neck, shoulder and back are garbage, you may want to improve the POSTERIOR aspect. This will require various activities which sit firmly under the subject line “pulling.”
Don’t mishear me. MOST avid gym-goers and lifters have this same deficit AND THEN SOME. If a guy who camps out on bench press for 10 sets doesn’t follow it up with 20 sets of rows, he’s imbalanced. The ability to do 100 push-ups in a row isn’t a brag if there’s little to no retraction, horizontal abduction, shoulder extension and external rotation in the program.
Create balance in the skills of the body.
And remember, none of it is new. The human body has always had the same fundamental movements.