Are you getting the most out of your training sessions?
Are you getting the most out of your training sessions? It is a common misconception that exercise is just exercise and it doesn’t matter what you do. If you turn up for your training sessions and just go through the motions without paying attention to what movement patterns you are doing and how much (number of sets, reps and weight being used) then how can you be sure if you are training all of your muscle groups and progressing from session to session? Of course there is a lot to be said about being active and we would always prefer you to do something rather than nothing. However, if you are making the effort to train then surely you want to ensure you are reaping the rewards for your hard work?! Exercises can be categorised into movement patterns (1). There are several different types of movement patterns. We are going to discuss the following: PUSH, PULL, HIP HINGE, SQUAT, SINGLE LEG, CARRY and CORE.
All movements can be broken down into concentric, eccentric and isometric phases. The first movement pattern we are going to look at is PUSH (2). The concentric phase of a push movement involves muscles that contract and shorten while generating force. An example is pressing a weight above your head in a shoulder press, the deltoids and triceps contract and shorten extending the arm straight above the head. The eccentric phase of a push movement involves the muscle lengthening (8). During a shoulder press, returning the weight back down towards the body is the eccentric phase when the deltoids and triceps will lengthen. The isometric contraction occurs when the contracting muscle does not change in length, when the weight is pressed above the head and the arm reaches full extension the slight pause at the top of the movement is the isometric contraction of the deltoids and triceps. When the weight is back down in the start position this will be an isometric contraction of the bicep. Push movement exercise examples: push ups, bench press, shoulder press, push press and many more.
The next movement pattern we are going to look at is PULL movements. We are going to use the bent over row exercise to explain the pull movement. The concentric phase of a bent over row is when the latissimus dorsi contract and shorten generating force which brings the weight in towards the body. The isometric phase occurs when the weight is held for a pause close to the body. The eccentric phase of a bent over row occurs when the latissimus dorsi lengthens and the weight returns to its starting position and isometric phase. Push and pull movement patterns often work well together as part of a superset, for example working the front of the upper body in a push movement and the back of the upper body in a pull movement. An example of a push/pull upper body superset is bench press followed by bent over row.(3)
The next type of movement pattern is known as the hip hinge. Just like the name states, your hip acts as a hinge for your upper and lower body. Hip hinges cause the hips to extend. This movement can easily be confused with a squat movement when being performed, however it is very different. The hip hinge involves movement just below the midsection, lowering the top half of your body over 20-30 degrees whilst simultaneously bringing your hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and an elevated chest. Most commonly used in exercises such as the deadlift variations, kettlebell swings, cleans, snatches, glute bridge and glute thrusters. The main muscle used in hip hinge movements are: muscles surrounding the lower back (latissimus dorsi), glutes, and hamstrings.(4) If you want to build a sexy booty I recommend you start performing hip hinge movements, glute bridge/ glute thrusters and Romanian Deadlifts being some of my personal favourites.
The next movement patterns are squat and single leg movements, both leg based movement styles but with different approaches to working the lower body. The squat movement is the pattern most crucial to developing a strong set of legs, core and glutes. The movement involves keeping your spine neural whilst slightly hinging your butt out and simultaneously bending your knees until you reach at least 90 degrees/parallel. The main variants of the squat movement are: bodyweight squats, goblet squats, sumo squats, back squats, front squats, split squats and single leg squats. The main muscles worked in this movement are the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and the lower back. The lunge movement requires you to step forward with your front leg at a 90degree angle and your foot flat on the floor whilst your back leg is bent at a 90 degree angle behind your body with your toe on the floor with variations like bodyweight, split lunges, barbell lunges, jumping lunges and reverse lunges. The main muscle worked by the lunge movement are the quadriceps, glutes, adductors and abductors.
The last two movement patterns are carry movements (which requires you moving a load from point A to B) and movements that work the core. The carry movement is a great way to work upper and lower body simultaneously and works everything from the quadriceps and hamstrings to the trapezius and deltoids especially with a decent weight and include exercises such as farmers loaded carry, racked carries and waiters walk. Carry exercises are often misjudged on their ability to build a strong core…don’t judge it until you try it.
Core movements don’t have to be your bog standard sit ups and crunches, while these will help to strengthen your core to a certain extent carry exercises, rotational exercises, anti-rotational exercises and core bracing exercises are far more effective. The rotation movement involves rotating your torso from side to side and primarily works the core especially the oblique’s, examples of rotational exercises are band rotations and woodchoppers. Anti-rotation exercises are also fantastic core strengthening exercises such as band anti rotational holds and plank band rows. Other core bracing exercises such as dead bugs and planking (normal and side) may seem simple and ‘easy’ however they are extremely effective and underused.
All of the movement patterns are important individually and in their own right, however having a balance of all of them is the key to building a progressive and sustainable routine. The basic movement patterns cover every muscle movement that your body can perform, this will help to ensure your exercise programs are balanced and prevent muscular imbalances. Planning your training programs around the basic movement patterns will ensure that your program provides variety and stimulation.
As always if you have any questions or would like to know about any of the movement patterns in more detail please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org