When you think about a traditional gym, what do you picture? You probably envision a massive room with a sea of weight machines. In the 1970’s weight machines became prominent when a man named Nautilus invented equipment that allowed people to isolate muscles, allowing stricter form and often increased weight load. Gyms continue to collect the most sophisticated machines with high-tech capabilities. You can actually workout while sitting down – but wait. Maybe that’s not so good after all…
These machines only offer isolation exercises to stimulate muscle growth. Advances in science are proving that most of the gym equipment is based on an outdated understanding of anatomy. Scientists are now turning away from isolation exercise and toward “Dynamic Movement Training”.
Modern biomechanists and functional anatomists are identifying how a body interacts in function (function meaning – “the special work performed by a structure in it’s normal state). So, what is a “normal state” for a human doing physical work? Is it sitting down on a bench or seat? No! When we do physical work, we are standing and moving our bodies in different planes, feeling the pull of gravity and relying on our bodies’ ability to support and balance us. Traditional gym equipment takes away all aspects of normal function and strictly isolates the use of one particular muscle.
Enter – our home gyms where we don’t have fancy equipment. All we have are a few dumbbells and a mat. It’s all you really need to become “functionally fit” for optimal physical strength. Using dumbbells in your home is actually better at building functional strength than any fancy machine. Leading anatomical and biomechanics researcher, Ida Rolf, Andre Vleeming and Raymond Dart have identified the following as essential for functional movement and the development of strength and power. (All 5 of these properties for functional movement can be done with exercises in your home gym).
- Movement should be Tri-planar. This means we should exercise in more than one plane of motion (the three planes of motion are frontal, transverse and sagittal). For example, a forward lunge would move in the sagittal plane, a side rise would move in the frontal plane and a wood chop would move in the transverse plane. Working out in our home gyms allow us to do multi-muscle movements, when we are using 2-3 planes with each exercise. This is especially true when we are doing HIIT training and trying to maximize a short workout!
- Exercises should be INTEGRATED. This is a key word. It means that the entire body is functioning as one unit to do a movement. If we workout on a machine and we do a shoulder press, are our legs functioning with us to complete that movement? NO! It’s important to use our body as a whole when we exercise.
- Exercises should require proper gravity-orientation. Most movements in our everyday life require us to be standing up under the force of gravity. You will not feel the force of gravity if you are using Smith Machine to do a weighted squat.
- Exercises should be proprioceptively enriched. This means we need to link our brain and body to complete a movement. How often have you tried a new exercise and it has taken you a moment to figure it out in your head? I love these kinds of exercises!! When you use a machine, this work is done for you and your brain doesn’t have to figure out what to do. When you learn a new movement the left side of your brain has to communicate with the right side of your brain to build new neural pathways. This contributes to brain health and the reduction of dementia. Just one more benefit to exercise – it truly is a magic pill!!
- Exercises should produce dynamic stabilization. This means your body must balance you through a movement and not rely on a machine for stabilization.
“Dynamic Movement Training” is easily done at home as we utilize our own body weight or a set of dumbbells through a series of exercises. Multi-muscle, INTEGRATED exercises allow our bodies to perform tri-planar movements with dynamic stabilization and gravity-orientation. This style of training has a high energy expenditure thus burning a lot of calories and fat. It increases lean muscle tissue, improves core strength and helps maintain our joint health through a full range of motion.
You really can get an AWESOME workout at home. All you need are the right moves and some motivation!