Sometimes I think I spend so much time writing about the elements that comprise this whole crazy idea called Motus Fitness, that I may forget to bring it all together. That maybe I don’t spend enough time integrating all these thoughts into the big picture.
So, this blog post is a little different from my usual articles. Let’s talk about what Motus Fitness really is.
Movement is the most important thing
Fitness methods are a dime a dozen. With a little searching, you’ll be able to find pretty much whatever you’re looking for. There are methods that prize strength above everything else. And others, core strength is the number one item. Cardio, flexibility, balance, the list goes on and on.
But I take a more inclusive approach and I look at movement.
What I’m concerned about is how well you move. Strength is important, and so are those nice sexy looking muscles, but above all else is movement. It’s good movement that will keep your joints functioning in a healthy way. And it’s good movement that will help keep you mobile and happy and healthy as you grow older.
A fun test I like to put people through is to simply have them lie on the ground on their backs and then come up to standing however they like. The smoother and “prettier” the movement, the more athletic you are.
Calisthenics are your first step
So, how do you build better movement?
Well, that’s an easy question and a difficult answer because it can vary widely for different people. But a great place to start are calisthenics, aka, bodyweight exercises.
The push up is the easiest example I can provide, but it’s also an exercise that you rarely see performed in the gym. Why? Because most people (mainly guys) view it as being too simple. That it won’t build any muscle. But the fact is, that most people lifting weight in the gym haven’t even “graduated” to lifting objects – things like dumbbells and barbells and all that fun stuff. In other words, they can barely manipulate their own bodyweight, whether it is a push up or pull up or something else, but they want to start manipulating other weights.
It’s trying to run before you can crawl.
And so with Motus, an emphasis is placed on body control. You’ve probably seen me write about this many time. And this isn’t easy. But the benefits of rediscovering calisthenics are not only a great looking body, but an improved sense of body awareness, decreased risk of injury, and an all-around healthier you.
But calisthenics will only get you so far. Remember the 5 movement patterns I’m always talking about? Press, pull, deadlift, squat and carry.
Calisthenics aren’t going to help us with deadlifting and carrying, and it would be nice to have some weight when we squat – even if it’s just a kettlebell – because our legs are so strong. Perhaps the most practical thing weight training can teach us is how to lift things up off the ground. There are technical subtitles in how we lift and manipulate weight that will keep your joints healthy, your bones strong, and you, happy.
So, how about the carrying movement pattern? Spend any time in a big box gym and you will rarely, and I stress the word rarely, see anyone carrying anything as part of their workout. Sure, people will carry dumbbells from one bench to another, but carrying half your bodyweight in each hand for 40 seconds is another thing altogether.
And that’s a shame, because “the carry” is not only a fundamental movement pattern, it’s an extremely practical exercise. And it’s simple! Just pick up a dumbbell or kettlebell and carry it. Be careful not to try to shrug the weight. Keep those shoulders down, and just go for it.
Tension and leverage
This concept is very much linked to what I would call movement, but to stress its importance, I’m giving it its own discussion.
I’ve seen a lot of fitness methods in my day, but I haven’t been blown away by how anyone is teaching tension. Beyond “brace your core” there just isn’t much of an emphasis on getting tight. And this is exactly how we lift things! We need to brace up our bodies where we should, and relax our muscles where they need to be relaxed.
Tension and leverage are also intimately linked to work capacity. When you know how to move efficiency, everything just becomes easier and it feels like you can just go forever.
Go heavy (sometimes)
What do I mean by heavy? Think: 5 reps, with at least one more rep in the tank if you had to.
I don’t stress the importance of hitting PRs. If you want to push your limit and lift as much as you possibly can, go for it. But the Motus philosophy is all about getting the movement dialed in and doing so with control. Then you can start increasing the weight.
Too heavy is when people start to hurt themselves. Even big lifters, have little aches and pains that they won’t usually talk about. And the only lingering scar tissue I have is from when I tried lifting too heavy too fast.
Keep it old school
It’s one thing to play around with the odd ball products and movements when you’re at the elite level. But when your workout is comprised of 45 minutes, 3 or 4 days a week, you’re completely wasting your time squatting on the BOSU ball or doing dumbbell curls on one leg. You’re exercising for the sake of exercising.
And what you begin to realize when you study fitness and movement, I mean really study it, is that our ancestors figured everything out long ago.
The deadlift is a good example. It has a bit of a morbid name, and many people are intimidated by it, but if I could only do one movement for the rest of my lift, it would be the deadlift.
Nothing transfers better to your everyday life that picking something up off the ground.
Everyone should be deadlifting. Runners, cyclists, ballet dancers, I don’t care who it is – everyone should be picking things up off the ground. You can vary the intensity and volume and frequency and all those other good variables, but you still need to deadlift. In fact, it will do more for your ankles than any amount of standing on a balance board will (assuming you aren’t recovering from an injury).
Keep on growing
I’m often explaining that I am a student of fitness. It’s not a means by which to undermine my writing or ability, but rather to remind you that I don’t claim to know everything about fitness (be wary of those that do). People’s bodies are so different from one another that what may work for me, may not work for you. Or maybe marginally so.
Therefore, it’s important we keep pushing the envelop and testing. Always testing. Just like running a website or business. After all, if you’re not poking the box and taking risks, then you’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, then what’s the point?
By Ryan WagnerWhat is Motus Fitness all about? by Ryan Wagner