How long have you been doing your current workout program? If it’s been more than few months then you may have noticed that you are no longer getting the same results you did as when you first started. Think about this for a moment: the gym is the only place where we repeatedly perform the exact some movements the exact same way. Every. Time.
The human body is a series of extremely adaptable biological systems; if you continue to do the same exercises with the same amount of weight for the same number of reps your body will become much more efficient at the workout which could lead to a training plateau where you no longer experience any significant changes. The best way to avoid this mistake and keep experiencing the gains you want is to change your workouts on a regular basis. Think of it this way: your body wants and needs variability; if you do the same movements (exercises) repeatedly it could be a possible cause of injury by fatiguing both tissues and joint structures.
Making even a small change – like the type of bench – can be essential for busting through a plateau.
It can take about 3 or 4 months for your body to fully adjust to an exercise program so some consistency helps ensure that you make the desired adaptations. For the best results you don’t need to do a different workout every time you exercise but making some minor changes that challenge your muscles to work differently with each workout can help ensure you avoid the dreaded workout plateau.
Our bodies are designed to perform a wide variety of physical tasks; the concept of movement variability suggests that adding minor changes to each workout can help muscles develop greater strength and resiliency leading to our desired outcomes. The following list can help you to understand what movement variability is and how you can use it to create an exercise program that delivers the results you want.
- Movement variability is the concept of performing a variety of different tasks, movement patterns or exercises in order to prepare muscles and elastic connective tissue to generate force in almost any situation. Lifting with heavy weights can help add size or increase strength but the heavier the weight, the smaller the range of motion. Meaning that the force of the resistance will be localized in a specific area as a opposed to being shared throughout a number of different tissues.
- There are two general types of muscle tissue: the contractile element of the actin and myosin protein filaments that overlap to cause muscle contraction (after receiving a signal from the nervous system); and the elastic connective tissue of the fascia that surrounds every muscle fiber and creates the tendons that attach muscles to bones. Strength training conditions the contractile element to generate higher levels of force while moving in multiple directions or planes of motions can help the elastic connective tissue become more effective at distributing forces throughout the entire body.
- The principle of specificity tells us that the body will adapt to the specific exercise stresses placed upon it. Lifting heavy can make you strong and increase muscle size but if you’re only doing linear movements with heavy weights then you are missing the opportunity to strengthen the fascia and elastic connective tissues which surround every component of muscle down the the smallest fiber. Movement variability exercises challenge the body to move in a variety of directions in an effort to improve overall levels of strength. Understanding how movement variability exercises engage a large amount of fascia and connective tissue can help you increase your overall strength and ability to generate force in a number of different directions. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE lifting heavy because it provides a number of killer benefits but I also do a lot of movement training to strengthen the tissues between my muscle fibers.
- Movement variability can help you strengthen more tissue and improve coordination. Most traditional resistance training exercises incorporate the use of machines or free weights like barbells and dumbbells. Machines use pulleys and cams that place the greatest amount of resistance where a specific muscle is capable of producing the highest amount of force and control the path-of-motion of the movement. Traditional free weight exercises feature curvi-linear joint actions which typically take place in a single plane of motion where muscles work to generate force directly against the downward pull of gravity. Using machines or free weights to do the same patterns with the same amount of resistance over an extended period of time could lead to tissues becoming stronger but only in the specific ranges of motion in which they’re used. Moving a mass through gravity (as opposed to lifting upwards directly against the downward pull of gravity) can help involve more muscle and connective tissue to control the movements of the resistance. In addition, lying or standing on a dynamic and variable surface, like the soft-side of a Terra Core, can improve the way the muscles work together to control motion in the body leading to better coordination and movement skills.
- Movement variability exercises can help ensure that you receive the optimal results from your workouts. Traditional equipment like barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and machines can be extremely effective, but after a while your body will adapt and will require a new type of stimulus. Using a Terra Core as a platform for your strength training workouts can help you add more variability to your program which can increase in your mobility, balance and coordination as well as your overall levels of muscular strength. The soft surface of the Terra Core allows you to perform traditional strength exercises like chest presses, flyes or pullovers on a dynamic surface that allows more motion through the joints when compared to traditional hard benches. This additional motion can help recruit more stabilizer muscles and connective tissue resulting in enhancing your ability to adapt to a constantly shifting mass and help you to prepare for the changing environment you may encounter throughout your day.
There are a number of benefits from a consistent, progressively challenging strength training program, but far too often we tend to do the same exercises or use the same equipment far too often. As you can see from the examples above, adding movement variability to your exercise programs can provide a variety of benefits that are hard to match using traditional strength training equipment. The benefit of using a Terra Core is that you can do exercises for strength, mobility or aerobic conditioning without having to move from equipment to equipment or take up a lot of valuable space. When I first saw the Terra Core it immediately made sense to me as an extremely versatile piece of equipment that can meet a number of fitness needs. I’ve been working with Vicore Fitness to help develop education and workout programs for the Terra Core; I only work with products I believe in and absolutely love the Terra Core.
We now have an app available on iTunes (do a search for Terra Core) that takes you through fun and challenging workouts. If you want to invest in a Terra Core of your own, follow THIS LINK and use discount code AAF (All About Fitness, my podcast) to save 20%.