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OTHER ITA SITES:
5 Exercises Everyone Should Be Able To Perform – Part 1
I am often confused at why personal trainers always begin new client’s exercise program on some sort of strength training circuit or group exercise class. I often wonder what is the trainer thinking when they are devising this person’s exercise program? Were they thinking at all? I know 95% of client goals are based on fat loss and none of them ever “want to be an athlete”. But do you know how many times I have told clients, “You don’t want to be an athlete, but you want to look like one?”
So the wheels begin to turn and the education process begins. The physique of an athlete reflects the protocol of performance training. What kind of performance? Doesn’t matter. Athletes have been shown to be more in-tune with muscular control, alertness, proprioception, elasticity, and power...not too mention higher levels of lean body mass and decreased body fat.
So what do you do with a general population client (GPC)? The main objective of a fitness professional should be to improve function. No matter what the goal is. A competent trainer will understand that by improving function and performance, you will elicit muscle gain and fat loss. If the trainer does not understand that, he or she should go back to their textbooks and read again. So what kind of performance training does the GPC need? They need performance enhancement of activities of daily living (ADLs). Some GPCs may be mothers, weekend warriors, marathon runners, post orthopedic rehab, or active older adult. However, the main performance improvement training (PIT) protocol begins with mastering progressions of primal movements.
An efficient human body (meaning one without congenital functional restrictions or history of injury, surgery, or mental trauma) should be able to perform five basic primal movements learned within the first 4 years of life. The 5 basic functions of human performance translated into exercise are:
These basic exercises are precursors to numerous loaded and unloaded exercises. I cannot think of an instance where a GPC has not executed any of these movements in his or her life. I cannot visualize a single GPC that can perform any of these exercises flawlessly. Even so, maybe no one can perform these primal exercises 100% flawless, but your job as the fitness professional is to get them real close. How close? Absolutely no GPC should progress to any other advanced movement until body control skills have improved; “fundamental strength” has increased; and pain/discomfort has vanished. How long will this take? Just like any other exercise program adherence, the timeline to performance improvement in these exercises depends on client/trainer interaction, frequency, proper cueing, and effective instruction. I have seen clients improve on these 5 exercises in 1 week, and some 5-6 weeks. The wonderful thing about beginning any exercise program with these primal movement exercises is that any discussed or fathomed pains (“my knee has problems when I climb stairs” or “my shoulder aches in the morning upon waking”) seem to disappear.
Most of today’s movement assessments are based around these five exercises. For the trained fitness professional, they can serve as analytical information regarding muscle imbalances, weakness, tightness, dysfunction, history of injury, and baseline testing procedures. Another advantage to developing exercise programs around these 5 exercises is there is no need for equipment or space. Clients can work on these primal movements in the convenience of their homes, hotels, or park. Remember, one of the factors I discussed earlier in regards to the timeline of progression was frequency. How often are they performing these five exercises on their own? And if the instruction and cueing is potent, advanced movements can be added leading to faster results.
I am very content with these five exercises. To the contrary, I would have added chin-ups (or pull-ups), but in my experience, I’ve never had access to a stationed bar to put clients on. The chin-up is an excellent indicator of pure upper body strength and can definitely be the sixth, but because its need for a stable bar, the factors becomes skewed (frequency and versatility).
Cook, G. and Burton L. 2006. The Functional Movement Screen. Perform Better – The Magazine (Spring 2006): 9-11
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Travel Part B