Maintaining Movements

Inverted Split Gymnast

As the blog title “Movement Project” obviously implies, I highly value the capacity and quality of movement in my coaching philosophy. Many famous, modern advocates of a movement based approach to athletic and fitness development such as (but certainly not limited to) Mark Verstegen, Alwyn Cosgrove and  Michael Boyle have contributed to its popularization. I admittedly follow their lead and appreciate the foundation they’ve provided me in my approach to training (big thanks to David Wheeler of SUP Strength for initially steering me in the right direction). However, the more specific a sport/fitness goal or the closer an athlete gets to competition, the less additional exercises facilitate success. In fact, high volume and intensity of additional movements can sometimes prove detrimental to achieving the desired result. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to maintain critical human movements without interfering with the primary purpose of training.

1. Bodyweight Warmup or Cooldown

Deloaded movements executed during a warmup, cooldown or recovery day can help keep the mind body connection necessary to easily reintroduce them in higher volumes and intensities when deemed more appropriate to the program. Single leg movements such as hip hinging, lunging and squatting can easily be plugged into a warmup that precedes or follows a session dominated by lower body bilateral movements such as squatting and deadlifting. Deloaded upper body exercises can also help maintain mobility and stability of the shoulder complex (to include t-spine). Eric Cressey uses exercises like yoga pushups and wall slides to maintain an overhead training effect in his overhead athletes without putting million dollar shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands at risk.

 

2. Light Complexes

For athletes with a solid foundation of strength, technical proficiency and work capacity, light complexes offer an excellent warmup opportunity for maintaining movement proficiency. Kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells, body weight, and several other tools offer dynamic means of incorporating every conceivable movement into a training session without negatively impacting the more CNS intensive activities with bigger payoff.

 

3. Conditioning

Short conditioning sets to finish a training session offer an excellent opportunity to plug in movements that typically take a backseat to the primary emphasis of training, especially when improving body composition can contribute to athletic success. Rotational and primarily concentric exercises (ropes, sled, medball) are a couple of my favorites for integrating dynamic movements often dismissed in favor more result driven exercise selection. Concentric exercises have also been shown to create less residual soreness, an important consideration prior to competition or another demanding day of training.

 

In Closing

Whether training for a powerlifting meet or closing in on a half marathon, maintaining “functional” human movements can help you avoid injury and set you up for future training success. The three suggestions above are just a few of the techniques available for plugging in auxiliary training components without negating the hard work you or your athletes are investing in more sport specific skills.

What are some ways that YOU find effective for maintaining capacity and quality of movement while training toward a skill intensive goal?

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