Measuring Movement

With the recent rise in powerlifting popularity, gyms are flooded with individuals trying to get better at the big three competitive lifts: bench, squat, and deadlift.  Strength is an imperative measurement of fitness, impacting all other levels of performance. It’s governed by simple metrics – pounds lifted, reps performed, time under tension, etc.  If the work increases, you must be making progress. You get constant feedback of improvement, or lack thereof.  It’s easy to tell if you’re getting better.

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Far too often, though, we let the lifts dictate our movements, instead of the other way around. Movement governs any way you use your body.  If we can break lifts down into movements, we have a far better chance of getting things right.  Furthermore, if something goes wrong, we have to look at the parts to be able to correct it.  The body is naturally separated into segments by joints.  It is the collaboration between these parts that allow us to move.

Movement is the diagnostic tool that allows us to fix our lifts, our pain, and our perception of our skill.

Performance is based on getting our joints and muscles to work optimally.  To do so, you have to know when and how to manipulate the two.  With either, this often means lifting less weight.  You have to sacrifice numbers for control.

Measuring control is much more difficult than measuring strength.  How do you know if a dancer or gymnast or martial artist is good?  You watch them move.  It may sound arbitrary, but there’s few judged competitions dictating superiority.  They chase skill, not a bigger bench or deadlift.  They are the best movers because they practice movement.

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Dan John breaks movement into five areas:
1.  Push
2.  Pull
3.  Hinge
4.  Squat
5.  Loaded Carry

Before you see how much you can hoist or hold with each, it makes sense to ensure your body can first perform them ‘gracefully and with mastery’.  Far too often lifters let the weight dictate correctness.  Feeling and range of motion will trump numbers every time.

Dr. Andreo Spina preaches force is the language of cells.  Certain joints have certain functions.  They’re either stable or mobile but they have the capacity to do both.  Treat something that should stay put as if it should move and the result is compensation and inefficiency.  The long term consequence is pain and systematic breakdown.  The remedy is re-programming and re-establishing anatomical function.  You feel better afterwards.

This is movement training. 
It is anything you imagine it to be. 

video credit: dewey nielsen youtube
If getting an extra five pounds on the bar no longer strikes your fancy and seems to cause more damage than advantage, find a different measure of success.  Try something that makes you eager to do it again.  Move, assess, learn, repeat.  Good practice = good result = an excitement for more.  Progress can really be that simple.

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