Train Movement Not Muscle

What does your weekly workout routine look like? Chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, shoulders on Wednesday, back on Thursday, arms on Friday? You probably read a muscle magazine and got the routine from there, am I right? I have some bodybuilder friends, for what I am about to explain, does not necessarily apply to you, so please excuse this article. However, most of you are either athletes or general population just trying to stay fit so I will elaborate further as to why I recommend training movement over muscle. Training movement will provide a strong foundation and prevent injury from whatever life throws at you.

Training your muscles means isolating that muscle group. Yes, isolating your muscles will make you look strong but we want to lay a foundation for our future and stay as healthy as we can. Training movements increases coordination and motor control. By training movements instead of muscles we are utilizing more muscle groups, which will lead to an increase in mobility, stability, and flexibility. Movement training will not just make us look strong but we will actually be stronger overall.

So what is the difference between training muscle and training movement? Training muscles is focusing solely on a single muscle group in an isolated exercise not needing mobility and stability from other muscle groups. For example, seated hamstring curl machine we are sitting stationary and only flexing our knees to work our hamstrings. Training movement involves compound multi-joint movements. For instance, the single leg deadlift is a great exercise targeting your hamstring but you are also building core and hip stability at the same time. Training movement allows our body to function in and outside of the weight room. The major movements we want to train are as followed:

  • Lower Body Hip Dominant Pull (ex. Single Leg Deadlift)

  • Lower Body Knee Dominant Pull (ex. Stability Ball Hamstring Curl)

  • Lower Body Bilateral Push (ex. Goblet Squat)

  • Lower Body Unilateral Push (ex. Reverse Lunge)

  • Upper Body Horizontal Push (ex. Pushup)

  • Upper Body Vertical Push (ex. ½ Kneeling Single Arm Press)

  • Upper Body Horizontal Pull (ex. Barbell Row)

  • Upper Body Vertical Pull (ex. Pullup)

Training the movements listed above will not only make you strong but it will help you become a healthier version of yourself that can withstand anything thrown at you in your daily life. A quote from Chad, who once did the typical bodybuilder workout that switched to training movements on a daily basis said, “I feel stronger and more fluid than before, exercises are not limited anymore from mobility and my grip strength and core are stronger than ever.” Chad also went on to say, “I have little kid mobility with big boy strength.” Now who doesn’t want that?

Chad is a good friend of mine, for whom I have been writing workouts for him over two years now. My favorite quote from him when I was talking about this upcoming blog was, “All my movements feel natural and unforced, I am dominating kids athletically in spikeball and everyone is impressed.” As a coach, that the best compliment you can get-- that he is dominating not just in the weight room, but in everyday life.

Now that we know training movement over muscle will build a strong foundation for us and keep us healthy, change up your workouts by training some the movements listed above. For any questions please post in the comment section.

To wrap it up, I want to end on one of my favorite sayings. “Every grandmother should be deadlifting so when she bends over to pick up her grandchild she doesn’t blow out her back.”


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