Train Movements not Muscles

Movement of the body is not an isolated event that occurs at one joint or in one plane of motion. It is a complex event that involves synergists, stabilizers, neutralizers, and antagonists all working together to produce and reproduce efficient movement in all three planes of motion. The cornerstone of functional training and rehabilitation is to train movements, not muscles. The muscles are slaves of the brain. The brain does not recognize isolated muscles; it recognizes patterns of movement in response to sensory input from the environment. Training isolated movements, individual muscles, has the potential to create tremendous neural confusion. This is something to avoid at all costs. It may be more convenient to train an individual muscle, but it is not correct. It complicates the process of getting that muscle to work as part of an integrated whole. Integrated movements are simple because they take advantage of the wisdom of the body to solve movement problems..


At 9/27/05, 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that training movement has shown to be more effective for improving athletic performance than more "traditional" type strength training. I think two of the biggest obstacles are getting past all the training methods used in the past, and then to convince your athletes that they need movement training as opposed to the preconceived notions of strength training they usually enter the facility with. Most athletes want to perform single plane movements such as bench press and barbell curls, because that’s what they see in magazine or at the gym. I think they feel they are missing out if those aren’t done. I’ve had good success in developing a program that has some of both, with a progression towards increasing the amount of movement training over single plane.

At 9/27/05, 6:30 PM, Blogger jbeyle said...

I think a lot of athletes perform single plane isolation exercises because more often than not, that is what they are taught and what is measured and expected. I have seen 2 training programs recently given to athletes by their high school sport coach and it was all single plane and mostly machine based. And in the local helath clubs, most "sport" trainers have their athletes run a mile, then lift circuit style on machines. It's tougher to teach a "new" way when they have been introduced to this less functional training. I often work with kids who have trained that way and got hurt, or the parents don't feel they are being taught correctly or are being supervised adequately. One advantage I have is in teaching middle school, I find that most kids are open minded and eager to learn. This is a great time to get your point across about this type of training. But it is difficult to change their minds when the only way to get their "name on the board/wall" is to leg press or bench more.
Bit of a ramble. I hope it makes sense.

At 9/28/05, 8:41 AM, Blogger Joe Przytula said...

A study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 2001 compared strength gains made in "functional" types of strength training to machine training. The strength gains were greater in the functional group, AND, postural sway actually increased in the machine group. Not good if you're trying to prevent injuries.

At 9/29/05, 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't mistake this for a pro-bodybuilding post, but why can't both isolation and integration work simultaneuosly? I've been following your work and Gary Gray's work for years, but have had success "isolating" a weak muscle and then "integrating" it into a functional movement pattern. Is this really an "all or nothing" approach? I would argue that the body surely knows muscles as well as movement and that's why we have compensation patterns--the body can't use the muscle(s) it's supposed to and therefore uses what's available to get the job done. Restore the proper function of a muscle or group of muscles and you restore proper movement patterns, right?


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