I've been writing articles on the internet for almost ten years now, attempting to put forth a filter of sorts. A filter that people can to sift through before they arrive at my doorstep (or virtual doorstep of the internet). My goal is to inform the consumer, so they can make the best possible choice for themselves.
By creating this field of information, this virtual filter, I can save us all a lot of time and energy, answering many questions globally, instead of one at a time. Today's question I hear most often from fellow trainers. What muscles does this exercise work? They've been educated to think about fitness in terms of isolated muscle contraction versus improving work capacity and movement patterns.
More often than not an obsession with abdominal muscles is at the forefront. "But what about abs?" is a phrase I've heard countless times. These are intelligent individuals who are clear about the myth of spot reduction (IE: doing situps to flatten your belly doesn't work), but still feel the need to endlessly contract the rectus abdominus in an effort to develop a strong core.
You can't blame a trainer for falling back on his or her education, but from my experience I've found it's way more about movement, how well the body can transport itself as well as other objects, that truly defines an fit individual with General Physical Preparedness (GPP). Think strength, endurance, agility, speed, power, while leaving the body injury free and in a state of optimum health. Looking good is the glorious side effect that unfolds when exercise is performed in conjunction with a proper diet and adequate recovery.
A program based on muscle isolation will invariably create imbalance and possible injury and cessation of training. Our primary function as living, breathing creatures is movement. We are not statues made up of separated muscles. Our primary goal in sport and in life... is to move, to perform, to get the job done, to do the work. Over-hypertrophating muscles has little to do with improving real fitness.
Exercises like the Kettlebell Jerk and Snatch have been around for a long time. I've seen first hand the android work capacity and improved athletic performance that's acquired by every serious lifter. That's not to say these exercises are easy or effortless, because anyone who's done a timed kettlebell set knows this not to be the case. But they are simple in another way.
The obsession with muscle is removed. This should be a relief to the typical trainer consumed with the notion of having to balance out his client's routines to hit all the muscle groups. Balance is built into every training session, as long as the trainee does the work. The body is trained systemically from head to toe. Calorie burn is high by default, so excess bodyfat is much less of a concern. And in America, a fitness program would be worth nothing if it didn't make you look great naked.
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