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By Fernando Paredes
Successful trainees don’t just hit the weights and do cardio. They include all of the components of physical fitness, in a balanced way, in order to make consistent progress and
prevent injury. All the muscles of the body are important: stabilizers, tiny structural muscles, and synergists. Successful
trainees see to it that everything gets adequate training. In fact, they
commonly view a stretch or core session with the same importance as a weight-training session!
How about you? Are you diligently training all these areas or do you view them as bothersome afterthoughts that you randomly perform every so often, or just neglect altogether? If you find yourself in the latter group, this article may help change your view. Let’s start with understanding the body’s needs a little better by reviewing some anatomical basics.
Human Movement Basics: Functional Anatomy
Your body is comprised of over 620 muscles, 206 bones, a nervous system with billions of nerve endings, and a vast webbing of connective tissue called fascia, which connects and holds it all together. The muscular system can be divided into two main categories:
The large moving muscles are the typical ones most are familiar with: chest, lats, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, etc., and are relatively few in number. The small structural sup- port muscles are the ones not commonly seen, like rotator cuff muscles, rhomboids, intercostals, psoas, transverse abdominus, internal obliques, paraspinals, etc., which number in the hundreds. Add to this the neurologically sensitive fascia, which forms vast muscular networks throughout your body, and you have some serious head-to-toe communication and movement support. One such network is the spiral line pictured here.
What we learn from this is that the human body functions as a highly intelligent movement-interpretation machine that thrives on exploring total-body movements in a variety of positions, angles, levels, directions, speeds, and environments.
Out-of-Balance Body = Limited Results & More Risk
Since most traditional strength training works only the large muscles in isolation, not integrated movement, it leaves hundreds of structural
muscles and fascial networks untrained. This is not good. When this supportive
musculature becomes “out of shape,” the larger muscles will eventually overpower them. This creates an out-of-balance body and can lead to a host of problems, such as muscle imbalances, right-to-left
movement, increased joint pain, spinal stress, and tight, achy muscles. All these will limit your training results and increase your risk of injury.
The real issue is that many times these imbalances can “hide” within your body for months or even years. Most times you won’t know until it’s too late and you get hurt!
Is there a way to check for these body imbalances? Yes, by
going through an assessment called the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) you can do just that. The FMS analyzes movement and
exposes any structural body weakness. You can then develop a
specific exercise plan to target and correct any individual structural weaknesses and restore balance to your body.
If there’s no one in your area who is certified to administer the FMS there is a simple self-guided option you can perform yourself. While the self-movement screen is not as in-depth of an analysis as going through the FMS with a trained professional, it will get you started on the right track.
Complete & Balanced Training 101
World-class trainers, coaches and athletes know that a complete and balanced training plan must cover all components of physical fitness so goals can be achieved without creating any muscular or skill imbalances that can lead to injury. Components include but are not limited to:
Each of these is relative to your goal. For example, a triathlete’s muscular endurance needs will be higher than those of a bodybuilder. So muscular endurance would have a higher priority and given more time for a triathlete than it would for a bodybuilder. The main point is you must include total-body movement-based exercises in a variety of patterns: forward, backward, lateral, up, down, twisting to ensure a more complete working of all muscles and maintain balance throughout your entire body. For strength, these movements can be as simple as a Squat-with/Dumbbell Curl or as complex as a Kettlebell Turkish-Get-Up. Using variations of the yoga triangle or lunge/forearm-to-instep stretches take care of mobility, flexibility, core and fascia.
Complete & Balanced Training = Maximum Results & Less Risk
You can see why I focus on more than just traditional strength and cardio with my clients. We work all components of physical training. Depending on their fitness level, needs, and goals, working these key structural components can be as simple as a five to ten minute daily routine, while my elite athletes may require a thirty-minute routine three to five times a week. And in some cases a full hour once a week is needed. Regardless of level, my clients gladly do it because they get better all-around results in less time and reduce their risk of injury to boot.
What YOU Need to Do
So please do not get caught in the trap of thinking you only need to hit the weights and do cardio to get the results you want. Take a lesson from successful trainees that achieve consistent results. Examine how balanced your body is. Find out where any structural weakness may be “hiding” in your body. Turn those weaknesses into strengths. Use total-body movement-based exercises and stretches to train multiple fitness components simultaneously. Training in this more complete and balanced way will quickly lead you to new levels of health, fitness and performance!
 Thomas W. Myers, “Anatomy Trains,” Third Edition, Chapter 1, p. 13,
Fascia and Biomechanical Regulation
 Mabel Elsworth Todd, “The Thinking Body,” Chapter 2, p. 25,
 Thomas W. Myers, “Anatomy Trains,” Third Edition, Chapter 10, p. 211,
Anatomy Trains in Training
 Gray Cook, “Movement,” Chapter 4, p. 65, Movement Screening
 Gray Cook, “Athletic Body in Balance,” Chapter 5, p. 26, Mobility and
Stability Testing, p. 31, self-movement screen
 Mel C. Siff, PhD, and Yuri V. Verkhoshansky, PhD, “Supertraining,” Fourth Edition, Chapter 8, p. 411, Designing Sport Specific Strength Programmes
Fernando Paredes, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FMS2, a twenty-year veteran of the fitness industry, is a sought-after fitness and performance expert in the Bucks/Philadelphia region. He has been featured in various media — Comcast Network’s “Your Morning” show, “It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle,” WFMZ
Channel 69 News, CBS3/CW Philly and The
Philadelphia Inquirer — because of his innovative Core-to-Strength Training™ approach. Fernando has gained the reputation as the expert other trainers turn to for advice and the “go-to” source for anyone interested in attaining lasting results and achieving their true potential. For more information visit his website at www.FusionFPStudio.com.