Tuesday, November 16, 2010

LaLona's Fitness Tip #2: The Right Kind of Weight Training (FIT)

Weight training develops muscles, prevents injury, and sustains our bodies through grueling cardio workouts – right?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  Weight training does not help unless it is the right kind. In fact, if we are not careful it can easily hurt us.  I started my first weight training program around age 11 and have had one ever since, yet starting around college I began to have knee problems and aching joints.  Over the past two years I have had two knee surgeries. Why? I was not doing the right kind of weight training.

Traditional weight training, often done on machines, targets and isolates specific muscles in order to make them grow.   Though machines appear to be safer to use, they restrict movements to a single plane of motion, which is an unnatural form of movement for the body and may potentially lead to faulty movement patterns or injury.  These movements are not movements we do in our daily lives.  Long ago we realized through cause and effect that these exercises generated a growth in muscle, but it was not a research-based formulation of best practices for the body.

Functional Integrated Training (FIT), on the other hand, involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life (bending, lifting, carrying, etc.).  Instead of isolating one primary muscle like traditional weight lifting does, it calls for us to use multiple muscles with each exercise with an emphasis on always including the abdominals and lower back.  FIT emphasizes the body's natural ability to move in six degrees of freedom.  As a result, it may lead to better muscular balance and joint stability, possibly decreasing the number of injuries sustained in an individual's performance in a sport.

FIT is not just better for you, it also gets better results.  In 2009 Spennewyn conducted research, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which compared functional training to fixed variable training techniques; this was considered the first research of its type comparing the two methods of strength training.  Results of the study showed very substantial gains and benefits in the functional training group over fixed training equipment. Functional users had a 58% greater increase in strength over the fixed-form group. Their improvements in balance were 196% higher over fixed and reported an overall decrease in joint pain by 30%. 

What does it look like?  An example of FIT would be this. Stand where you can see yourself in a mirror with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outward, hands at your sides.  Squat down so that your thighs are parallel to the ground or lower, being careful to keep your back arched and your buttocks extended backward as far as possible (stick your butt out!). Simultaneously, raise your hands above your head and extend your thumbs in a “thumbs  up” fashion.  Repeat this exercise moving as quickly as you possibly can, striving to eventually do 60 in one minute. 

How did that feel? Hard, huh?  That is FIT. You just worked your leg, stomach, back, shoulders, and arm muscles. Well-done.  Ready to make it harder?  Add arm weights. 
Stay tuned for more FIT tips. I will soon be doing YouTube videos to demonstrate quick, effective moves you can do at home.

1 comment:

  1. I'll add this to my routine today. Thanks for the tip! I'd love to see some videos!