Welcome back!  I would like to start today’s post with a little disclaimer.  Today’s information is not original information.  This ground-breaking, life-altering information that  you will get today is not my brain child.  It is something that I picked up along my journey and think is absolutely and completely important to pass on to all of you.  What I am talking about is the proper exercise progressions and the concept of the hierarchy of exercise.  What happens all to often is that this “order” so to speak gets violated and people try to skip levels and jump from point A to point D without any regard for points B and C in between.  And what we find is that when we do this, things just don’t work properly and we end up more dysfunctional than when we started.  Here is an image of the basic hierarchy so that as we explain, you can follow along.

Basically what this Fitness Hierarchy shows us is that the ultimate way that people work out is flawed from the ground up.  The first reason that we need to exercise is for the basic purpose of health and wellness.  It is pretty well known fact that exercise (at least certain forms of exercise) are basically the fountain of youth.  Consistent physical activity can not only make you feel better, but can help stave off chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the list goes on.  There are so many positive benefits of exercise, that it’s a little bit silly.  OK, so we’ve got that one down pat.  We understand how good exercise is.  The next part is the tricky part, because the second level of the pyramid is probably both the most important and the most neglected one.  And that is the premise of “Functionality”.  Now the term “Functional Training” has bee tossed around a lot in recent years in terms of workouts, but still, most people don’t get it.  The basic meaning of being functional means knowing how to and having the ability to properly move.  Not only through workouts, but through your day.  We’ll leave that second part out for now, because that’s another discussion for another day.  But what you’ll see is so many people in the gym skipping to the strength and conditioning level of fitness.  Trying to exercise and push their bodies and get all these good benefits that we spoke of earlier, without the ability to properly move.  People running for time on end on the treadmill without knowing how to properly run and wondering where the shin splints and fascitis come from or why their back hurts from the impact.  Others lifting weights in the gym and needing to create such compensatory movement patterns that their body has no idea what is going on.  The first thing that we have to overcome to get around this problem is the human ego.  Most get in the gym and do what they have been told for ages, without regard to the fact that it’s probably all wrong.  You need to learn how to move your body properly before you add load to it, right?  Right.  You can’t do a 200 pound squat, if you can’t properly squat your body weight.  So commonly we have to take a step or 2 backwards in order to eventually race forwards.  We need to breakdown all that is learned and wrong in order to build something good and right.  That takes a little time and a lot of discipline…something that our instant gratification society sorely lacks.  The main keys to functionality are the ability and MOBILITY to move properly.  Having the mobility in the hips to do a fully parallel squat.  Having the range in the shoulders to pull and press weight.  Exercise and movement are both SKILLS, and should be treated and taught as such.  Once someone can move properly, then and only then can they properly proceed to the strength and conditioning level, and ultimately sport performance.  And with that said, I really don’t feel the need to fully address those two levels on their own, because if you take care of the base two levels of the pyramid, the upper two will take care of themselves.  The main idea being, that if you have a strong foundation in health, exercise and movement, then the rest will improve by general rule.  However, if you skip the bottom two levels of this progression, then you are trying to build a fully competent structure on an extremely shaky foundation.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  Pass it on.

PS – If you guys want to see a gym that deals with functional human movement at it’s core, go to www.smallgroupfit.com.  It’s a gym that has been opened up by a former grad and their entire premise is teaching you how to move in order to get you fit and strong.  Check it out.