There is so much information out there! I mean at time I myself feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it and I am just talking about the information related to training correctly and eating better.
Not to mention a lot of the information conflicts and not only do you have to sort through it all, but you also have to decide what's relevant and isn't complete bullshit fabricated for someone else's profit.
That being said one of the hardest things I have to do as a coach and trainer is triage what exactly a client needs to be doing during a training session.
I have to consider what exactly it is they need to be doing and balance that with what it is they want to accomplish.
And the truth is there just isn't enough time in the week for most people do everything they need to be doing when they step into the gym.
It means we have to be efficient and effective with how we use our time and stick to focusing on the things that will have the largest return on investment.
Or put another way what dominos do we need to knock over so that all the other dominos fall into place as well.
However most of these "big rocks" aren't that sexy and they definitely don't involve endless metcon sessions or olympic lifting therefore they usually are the things in everyone's training programs that get ignored. This ultimately leads to pain and injury further down the road that every treats as mysterious. But the truth is it isn't mysterious it's logical.
I wanted to then share two things that I think are grossly overlooked in most people's training programs either because individuals are unaware of their importance or they simply just don't want to take the time to do what's necessary to be successful in the long run.
1. The importance of your big toe and intrinsic foot strength.
It's crazy how influential your foot and especially your big toe is in how well your body moves.
There is no quicker way to knee and hip pain than having a weak foot and limited big toe dorsiflexion.
Either of these can cause havoc on your ability to move and remain injury free, but couple them together and you have guaranteed recipe for disaster.
And since most of us have worn shoes since the time we were able to stand up on our own most of us have pathetically weak feet and lack any semblance control over our toes.
This results in the development of aberrant movement patterns especially in our gait which is something we do literally hundreds of times per day. It causes our toes and foot excessively pronate, our knee to valgus and our hip to externally rotate placing our joints in compromised positions that weren't meant to handle such repetitive loads.
Which means if you want to be mobile and strong without nagging aches and pains you should invest time in mobilizing your feet and toes, gaining control over them, and strengthening them through their entire range of motion.
Here is a great list of exercises to get you started on just that.
2. The need for articular independence before articular interdependence.
This is a point that Dr. Andreo Spina drove home repeatedly during the FRC seminar I attended in Austin, Texas. It sounds complicated, but it's truly a rather simple and common sense statement.
The trend over the last 10 years in training has been to move towards a more functional approach to training. This means prioritizing multi-joint movements, looking at sports-specific carry over, and focusing on developing strength and stability throughout our mid-section. As opposed to the traditional bodybuilding approach to training which involved body part splits and lots of muscle isolation work.
And while I will say I complete agree with this trend I think that we have forgotten before we start doing multi-joint exercises under large loads we need to first possess the proper range of motion and strength in each individual joint used in the exercise.
Makes sense right?
I mean if you can't squat to parallel on your own without weight what business do you have squatting ass to grass with 225 pounds on your back?
All of this is to say that you should first develop range of motion and control over each individual joint (articular independence) before you start asking those joints to work together and especially together under load (articular interdependence).
A great example of this are the chin-up or pull-up. If you can't do what I am doing in the video below which is control your shoulder blade in every direction you probably shouldn't be doing chin-ups or pull-ups.
I really don't mean to sound controlling or restrictive.
I don't enjoy telling you that you have to spend time doing boring and difficult things before you can start doing fun and difficult things.
But in order to keep you injury free and getting stronger and healthier for a long time to come you have to put in the work up front to establish a strong foundation and obtain the necessary prerequisites to do the things we want to do down the road.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training