Wednesday, 12 October 2011

IT'S MISSING IN YOUR PROGRAM! How to add gait to your wrkouts

Humans are bipedal. What seperates us from other animals is the fact that we walk around on two feet. Think about it: if we were to NOT walk -  to not do the very activity that defines our species - would we still function the way we are meant to? Unfortunately, this is very much so the case in our stressful and busy modern society ... we hardly find time even to walk.

There is no doubt that we used to and are supposed to walk for miles and hours a day. Most fitness professionals know of the typical deep squat example provided on people of developping countries, but not much mention is given to the fact that they also walk a shit-ton more than we do.

Born to run
You see, when gait happens, magical things appear. Joints get lubricated, digestion increases, breathing improves, blood circulates, hips go into hyper-extension and hip flexors get rhymically stretched on the megafold. I could go on and on about neuroplasticity and the like but this article is not to tell u what you are missing, but that you are missing and what to do about it. In a previous write up, I mentioned when fundamental human movement patterns are non-existant in our training (or lives for that matter), human dysfunction arise. Not only does the musculoskeletal system suffer, but the whole body, including the digestive, nervous, endocrine etc. I also shared ways in which each of these movements can be performed to increase motor learning and competence: in different planes and loaded or explosive.

Do u remember what happened when the weighted sled was introduced a while back ago? It damn well exploded, BOOOOOM! People were using it everywhere and for everybody. Some were even recommending entire workouts based on sled pushing. It got picked up so quickly simply because it was giving tremendous results that were never gotten before. Why? Because no one was doing it!

Pretty much everyone these days does their 3 sets of 5 standing in one spot. The most you ever see them displace is with a lunge. You know, with all this kinesiology lying around, I thought that the study of human movement meant that we would actually get somewhere. We need that rhythmical pattern of locomotion in our lives. I'm not here to tell you to take the stairs, walk to the store or some crap I would lecture to a two year old. Rather, here are some simple ways to add some gait to your workout and reap the benefits of locomotion.

Explosive Gait - Sprinting

Run fast, Get ripped. Two-step simple solution
If you're not already sprinting, what are you waiting for? Improved growth hormone, increased fat loss, gluteal emphasis are just a numbr of the benefits that sprinting offers. Body fat percentage isn't even an issue for people who sprint.Of course, sprinting means as fast as you can - not jogging. 6 sets of 40 yards should do the trick. Seeing as most athletes already run, let's move on to some commonly missing parts of their movement repetoire.

Loaded Gait
Dan John talks about loaded carries and the amazing changes he gets when he adds them to a client's regimen. I think it's much more fundamental than that. Like we have vertical and horizontal pushing and pulling, I argue that there is also vertical and horizontal loaded gait. Each type of loading places a different stress on the body and demands different stability and muscle recruitment. To perform the farmer's walk, simply pick up 2 hundred pound dumbbells and get walking. A neat execution of all vertically loaded gait exercises is to perform sets by walking in a figure eight. This really encourages "steering strength" and maximally challenges grip and stability. This is also a great way to execute and count "reps" for these exercises especially if your gym doesn't have a lot of space. If this is what you're missing in your regimen, add it. If you already do it, try doing the unilateral versions for a twist (lol, get it?) or go overhead. You'll be suprised with the results you get.

Farmer's walk (as it's derivatives) - Vertically loaded gait
Farmer's Walk
Suitcase carry
Farmer's walk is the only thing that's even close to something you would do in everyday life all the time because it is what you pretty much do. People argue back and forth about what's functional but nothing gets more functional than gait, walking, running etc and even more so with picking up something damn heavy and just carrying it. You could argue with me about how many times you've squated or deadlifted your cat but work something other than a desk job and you'll get the picture. It's more than being sport specific, loaded carries are life specific.

Interestingly enough, vertially loaded gait helps with lateral movements such as "cutting" in sports. The reason being that these exercises really challenge the frontal plane. Those who are familiar with the works of Stu McGill will know that the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) takes a beating with these moves, especially the unilateral versions. When performing lateral movements, the QL helps to stabilize the pelvis by holding it up on the side contralateral to the "driving" leg.

QL is required for this

Suitcase carry, Kettlebell Rack walk, KB bottom-ups rack walk, Waiter's walk and all other unilateral variations

It's interesting to note that the arm position of each type of loaded carry. For the rehabbers, it's especally neat to see how the farmer's walk with the hands down at the sides places the shoulder in the least provocative position, moving up to the rack walks with hands around face level to a more provocative shoulder position and finally to fully overhead with the waiter's walk and placing the shoulder in the most provocative position to challenge maximum shoulder stability.
rack walk /w stairs
incredible shoulder stability
back wards running
mini leg extensions
single leg

Self limiting movement. Hiking

Up hill, down hill running

Horizonatally loaded gait
Sled pushing/dragging (Car push), 1 arm also.

Loaded explosive
Parachute runs, Sled sprints

You can combine the two for an even crazier effect. I remember when sport coaches used to be all about sport specificity and attached bands to sprinter's limbs for 'resisted' running. That was all bullshit... this is really how you do it!

Walking: some of the best active rest you can get

Go ahead, strap on a weighted vest ... or don't. It simply just comes back to walking. As mentioned before, when you walk, you BREATHE. Blood also gets circulated, things get stretched and loosed, thoughts flow and the mind is relaxed . Not a bad way to unwind, relieve 4 types of stress and rebuild the body for another day of hard training. Whether you run, walk, sprint or jog, it comes down to doing what you already don't do and doing it. Walk on my friends.

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