Exercise for life…not for looks.
There are three simple tenets to our consistent movement recommendation.
- Move frequently at a slow pace.
- Move quickly sometimes.
- Lift heavy things.
Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
Slow movement is at the foundation of fitness. Walking, hiking, gentle cycling – these are activities that are essential to quality of life – they aren’t about building muscle or burning calories so much as they are about maintaining movement and the ability to move.
The recommendation isn’t as hard to achieve as you might think. If you have an active job you are already there, otherwise find ways to be less efficient. Park farther away from entrances, be less efficient when taking laundry up and down the stairs or bringing groceries into the house. Walk instead of drive, stand instead of sit etc.
Recommendation: Three to five hours of slow paced movement per week is recommended.
Move Quickly Sometimes
Sprinting is the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ exercise out there. It can’t be beat when it comes to promoting growth hormone release, fat burning and lean mass building. That said, sprinting is certainly not for everyone so if it is not something you are comfortable doing then there are lots of other options that will give you the same benefits. Ellipticals, rowing machines, skipping and stair climbers are all great examples of exercises you can do for your high intensity intervals.
Recommendation: Fifteen minutes of high intensity, heart rate elevating movement, spread over two sessions per week is recommended. An interval should last anywhere from 10 seconds up to a maximum of one minute. For example: 15 x 1 minute intervals, 30 x 30 second intervals or a combination of each. Take as much time as you need to fully recover so that the last interval is as strong as the first!
Lift Heavy Things
Resistance training is the cornerstone of fitness. Stronger people live longer, survive hardships better, have less pain and enjoy life more fully than weaker people.
Recommendation: Lift weights or move your body against resistance two to three times per week, following the 7 Primal Movement Patterns listed below.
7 Primal Movement Patterns
There are seven basic movements the human body can perform and all other exercises are merely variations of the seven.
When performing all these movements you will be able to stimulate all the major muscle groups in your body.
First we have the pulling motion which consists of pulling a weight towards your body, or your body towards your hands. This can be a horizontal or vertical pull, such as a barbell row or a pull up, respectively.
The main muscles being worked in these sets of movements are the mid and upper back, biceps, forearms and rear shoulder muscles (posterior deltoids).
Pro tip! Be sure to retract your shoulder blades prior to ‘pulling’ or you may end up with tension in your neck and upper shoulders
The second motion is pushing, the exact opposite of pulling. This movement involves pushing a weight away from your body or pushing your body away from an object (ie. the floor). This group is also divided into horizontal and vertical and includes exercises like pushups and over head presses.
The main muscles being worked are chest, triceps and front and upper shoulder muscles (anterior and medial deltoid).
Pro tip! Keep your shoulder blades retracted and your humerus externally rotated, especially as your arms return closer to your body. This provides stability to your shoulder and helps prevent painful impingement.
Next, we have the squat. One of the most important exercises you can perform to not only create strength and mobility in your lower body but to keep you independent and functional in your daily life. This movement involves pressing your hips back while bending your knees and driving your feet into the ground until you reach the lowest level you can and you return back up to stand.
The main muscles being worked are your thighs, hips, glutes and core.
Pro tip! Keep your feet at least shoulder width apart and drive your knees out as you sit your hips back.
Another lower body movement is the lunge, which is less stable than a squat as you have one foot in front of the other. This movement not only requires greater demands on your strength but also on your flexibility, stability and balance. A lunge movement pattern could be a step up, a side lunge, a split squat or something of the like.
The main muscles being worked are the glutes, front of the thigh (quadriceps), core and hamstrings. Because of the split stance it hits the glutes more than a traditional squat would.
Pro tip! Keep the majority of your weight on your front foot as you lower your hips, keeping the front foot flat and back heel lifted.
Fifth on the the list is another lower body exercise, the hip hinge. This is executed by pressing your hips back while maintaining a neutral spine and then pressing the hips back forward again to complete the exercise. The main exercises in this group are deadlifts or kettlebell swings.
The hip hinge works the posterior chain of our body, which is made up of the hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Pro tip! Hold the weight by squeezing your shoulder blades together, this will help ensure a flat, neutral spine.
This sixth movement, twist (or rotation) is unique from the other six as it works in a different plane of motion. The other exercises involve moving forward or backward or side to side, rotation involves twisting at the core. There are two primary types of twisting, or rotational movements: (1) rotational and (2) anti-rotational. Rotational movements are the basic twisting exercises, such as twisting to throw a ball. Anti-rotation are exercises where the rotational movement is prevented, like in a paloff press, or a single arm DB row.
The twist works the muscles of the core, specifically the obliques and these together contribute to spinal stability.
Pro tip! Ensure your deep core (TA) muscles are engaged by bracing as if you are about to be punched before you initiate movement.
Lastly we have gait, which is essentially walking. Although this seems like a simple movement, gait is a combination of multiple movements involving lunging, twisting, pulling lightly with the arms as you pull with the hamstrings. This would include movement patterns such as jogging, walking or farmers carry.
Pro tip! Don’t take your gait for granted. Get a specialist to analyse your gait to see where you may have compensation patterns or imbalances.