Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Trunk!

Is often the least emphasized part of the body. Now there is a counter trend, where people are wanting to work out their core, DVDs on core, ab work outs, machines for that area, etc. Before I start on a rant let me start from the beginning.

No matter what a person looks like, how big or small they are, when they are trying to tell me that even though they are out of shape, they are still strong, they always either show me their arms or their legs. You can take an ex-athlete who has gained weight and he or she will still say they are strong, and show you one of their limbs. No one. NO ONE out of shape tells you they are still pretty strong, and shows you their stomach. NO ONE.

Why is that? Because. Who. WHO doesn't have strong limbs? Sure maybe it's weaker than others or less developed but if you are out of shape, your limbs will still be the strongest part of you. If you had a strong trunk, you wouldn't be out of shape to begin with.

Why? Because you always use your limbs, because it is easy to use.

My favorite example is with a baby. A baby who is just born, can move their arms, their legs, can make a grip. Can they stand? No. Why? No posture, core, or trunk control. Can they even flip over? No.

Same with most adults, they are better at trunk control than a baby but not by much. Yeah you can flex your arms, but you've been able to grip and flex your arms since birth. That doesn't make you strong. What separates the weak from the strong is your trunk.

So what about those blasted ab and core work outs? It's like the opposite extreme. It tries to isolate your trunk into just the abdominals. And tries to do a separate work out just for that area. Which is also futile. When can you use the trunk without coordinating it with the rest of the body? You can work a strong trunk but unless you have legs to stand on, you can't stand.

So what am I suggesting? I avoid isolated movements. I avoid things that separates the body into regions. Effective exercises are ones that make you coordinate all your limbs together and connects them with your trunk, and forces you to stabilize and create strength, from the feet up to your trunk, though your arms, and that energy transfers to whatever weight you are holding in your hands. For example a kettlebell swing.

Core should be engaged in all work outs, if a work out doesn't need the core engaged, then it's a useless work out. Seated exercises are fine, but are used too much. Gyms are crammed with benches and seats, and chairs to work out on.

If gym owners were smarter and less of a meathead, they would clear more free space to do free range movements, get rid of so many stools and chairs and benches. And put the heaviest weights at the top of the rack where it is easy to grab and the lightest ones at the bottom where it won't kill your back to bend and grab them. Also dumbbells will be ordered with the heaviest closest, and the lightest farthest away from the training area. But that's just my thoughts on the matter.
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