Movement can be complex. We can ignore that idea, keep exercising the way we have been, and hope for the best. Or, we can investigate, isolate details, and train for specific outcomes. Neither approach is wrong. I will assume because you’re reading this, that exercising isn’t working, and it’s time to focus.
Controversy in the fitness world is often semantic: two people with the same idea saying the same thing in different ways. However, underlying differences can be important, regardless of terminology. Sometimes, essential differences in context and application require clarification.
Exercise is a category of movement describing the intention to move one’s body with the general goal of getting healthier. Some exercises target body systems or regions better than others. But unless you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing to meet specific, current needs, you’re guessing. There’s nothing wrong with exercise, but it’s non-specific.
Exercises can be subdivided into movement patterns, a step toward specificity. A Squat and Deadlift are both lower body exercises. But which is better? Should you do one or the other, both or neither? The answer depends on intent. Because squatting requires more knee bend, it elicits more quadriceps activation, so that (knee-dominant) pattern better improves quadriceps strength. Breaking down exercises into patterns, however, may not give us the detail we require.
A Deadlift and a Swing are both hip hinge patterns. But are they the same? No. They differ in many ways: loading, speed, timing, setup, position at lockout, breathing, etc. Though both hip-dominant patterns, they don’t train your body the same way. Movement qualities sharpen our focus; they are the parts required by a movement, the sum of which is not just an exercise, but a specific exercise done in a specific way. A movement quality is something that your brain or body needs to possess to complete a skill. Movement qualities are specific: if you want to improve your Swing, you want to improve your hinge. But a hinge is a movement pattern, not a quality. What’s wrong with your hinge? Are your hips too tight? Do you have trouble keeping your spine straight? Two movement qualities you might improve, then, are dynamic hip extension (the ability of the hip to move freely) or spinal stabilization.
When training, I ask myself the question: “What do I need the targeted joints to experience?” First and obviously, I want to be sure that I’m targeting the correct joints, but I also want to consider useful things like speed, type of muscle contraction, and base of support. Exercises and movements will describe what you are doing; movement qualities describe how you are doing it.
When deciding how to train for your skill, isolate some of the qualities it requires. Consider:
I’ll get you started. There are more details to find (it’s never hard to make movement more complicated), and more ways to affect your training (eye position, for example), but if simple works, there’s no need for complex. Below you’ll find some specifics for each Base 6 skill.
For each skill, consider some of the following details to isolate, relevant to your particular issue. If you can’t get into the proper position, consider the required joints, and find a way to open up them up. If your kettlebell bounces around at the top of your Snatch, train reflexive shoulder stability. Thinking this way will help you choose a drill that’s right for you.
Because the kettlebell won’t just travel sideways, it’s force will move downward at an angle, and will create more force toward one leg than the other.
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