There are so many different types of exercise, that it can be hard to work out where to invest your energy.
If we look at the gym, we tend to see a lot of moving things around. We lift weights, we pull cables, we do repetitive movements with load. When we look at general fitness, we see a lot of cardio based activities, like running, group classes and high intensity interval training.
Western fitness tends to be focused on flogging your body until it is fit. There’s this underlying concept of ‘harder’. Pushing yourself - in spite of feeling the burn. Push yourself in spite of being out of breath. More reps. More weight. Harder, harder, harder.
Think of this as being output based training. I tell my body to do as much of something as it can. There’s a real issue if all your training is output based. This is why so many of us get injured.
A body needs to be stable, before it can be pushed hard. Otherwise, we end up with one area overworking, and getting injured.
Stability comes from our deep muscles working well together. Unfortunately, modern workouts tend to focus on getting more reps done, or moving faster, rather than promoting stability.
Stability comes from bracing movements - movements where we have to hold our own position, relative to an external force. Think of planks. You are staying still, gravity is pushing down, your body responds. It’s not that a plank is a perfect exercise, it’s just a good example of bracing.
Bracing movements encourage reflexive activation. You don’t need to be moving, and you don’t have to consciously tense the area. Your body knows what to do. It’s resisting an external force, trying to hold itself together.
More functional movements like yoga, rock climbing, and deep core exercises all involve elements of bracing. When you’re in warrior pose, the deep muscles that run from your feet to your hips are active. When you’re trying not to fall off a rock wall, the stabilising muscles of your shoulder and core are working hard. You don’t have to climb up a wall, or even train particularly hard. You just want to avoid the trap of Western Fitness.
Your body doesn't want to be flogged. Real results come from movements that get you to tune in and focus, not just pump out reps.