By Gerard Bochese
With the myriad exercise equipment lined up in the gym and the plethora of exercises to choose from, where does one begin when designing an effective workout program?
Though designing an exercise program may seem complex and confusing, it can be broken down to fairly simple movement patterns. The human body has moved and performed the same way since its inception. The apparatus we use today may be very high tech but the movements are based on what we call Primal Movement Patterns:
1) We push
2) We pull
3) We level change
4) We flex and extend
5) We twist and rotate
6) We ambulate
If we include these movements in our exercise routine we will cover all aspects of our training and see positive results both aesthetically and functionally.
Each category holds a multitude of exercises and by simply choosing several from each category you can build a solid and complete routine that will both strengthen the individual muscle groups and, more importantly, balance the body so it will be equally strong in all movements and directions.
Balancing the body is extremely important in achieving optimal fitness and staying injury free. So often people only train the muscles they can see in the mirror or the muscles that are their favorite on the beach – chest, abs biceps. However, by overtraining certain muscle groups at the expense of other groups we create muscular imbalances in our bodies that will result in postural problems, chronic pain, and potential injury. Furthermore, if the body is not well balanced and certain muscles are noticeably weaker, this will affect your ability to strengthen and develop those muscles you really like – the body works as one unit and a weakness in one area will affect another area. Therefore, it becomes critical that you do an equal amount of exercises in each category (ex. If you do 5 push exercises you must do 5 pull exercises).
Here are some examples of exercises from each category:
1) Push – chest press, tricep extension
2) Pull – seated row, bicep curl
3) Level change – these make up our leg exercises – squats, lunges
4) Flex and extend – shortening and lengthening our core – crunches (shorten), hyperextensions (lengthen)
5) Twist and rotate – using cables, resistance bands or medicine balls we perform rotating motions through our core
6) Ambulate – jogging, sprinting, jumping forward