Monday, June 14, 2010

Fitness Foundation and Movement Competencies

This week starts my introduction to strength training camp for teenagers. The objective, over the six, one-hour sessions, is to teach basic strength training principles and techniques to kids who have never strength trained before. Some kids play sports, some don't. It doesn't matter. They are all beginners. Their 'training age' is zero. This is true for adults, too. Even if someone is 40 years old and they have no training experience, their training age is zero.

So what do what do beginners need? They need to build a movement foundation. They, like the 40-year old, need to learn and practice basic progressions of various movements. Some will be familiar and simple, some will be unfamiliar and awkward.

We won't even touch a weight or machine the first day of camp. We will spend one full hour learning how to do body weight movements properly. From my experience, very few people (beginners or even some experienced trainees) can do a proper push-up or body-weight squat. Here are some of the basic exercises we will work on:

1. Planks
2. Side Bridges
3. Bird Dogs
4. Hip Bridges
5. Single-Leg Stands
6. Push-Ups
7. Inverted Rows
8. Good Mornings
9. Down Dogs
10. Deadlifts
11. Squats
12. Lunges

All of these exercises will be done with body-weight. Once good technique is established, we will add resistance. However, most beginners can get a great 'training stimulus' with only body weight exercises. These exercises can be made more challenging with subtle modifications. In the future, this 'movement foundation' can be revisited as a warm-up or some of these exercises can be put into a conditioning circuit.

All beginners should develop a 'movement foundation' or basic exercise competency. So many people simply grab a weight or climb on a machine without any movement competency. This is largely a result of commercial gyms wanting to get as many members as possible by offering machines that dont require you to learn any new movement-simply push a lever or a pedal. While these people can improve their strength and fitness, ultimately, they are limiting themselves and increasing their risk of injuries. So, take some time to develop a strong 'movement foundation', on which you can build upon for the rest of your life.


Jo said...

I really hope these kids will take you seriously and apply what they learn for the rest of their lives. Sure wish I had had something like this when I was young! But - now I have it that I am old, and it makes total sense. I will live my dream career vicariously thru you as I apply what you know to what I do. :0)

Chad said...

Couldn't agree more! What a great compilation of exercises for beginners. I see too many kids in the gym throwing machine weights around clanging and such with no idea of what they are doing!

I am printing this and placing it on the gym wall where I train.
Maybe you can send it to the capital for the "Let's Move" campaign!

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Thanks Jo and Chad. So, far the kids are doing well. It is interesting to see how the kids pick up on these techniques. There is a large range of abilities in the group.

Chad, I would be happy to send this series of exercises to Washington, but they need good instructors to ensure they are learning good habits. Or else, it will end up like the Biggest Loser.