Regardless of fitness level, there’s much more to exercising than lifting weights. Beginners need to learn how to move properly before they start lifting weights.
Despite the popular perception, there is a lot more to exercising than strength training with weights and jogging. It doesn’t matter if a person is an expert or a novice, they have to include more than these basic elements in their program.
Personal trainers, authors of fitness books and folks who work out on their own, at the expense of the more popular and well-known strength training and running, frequently overlook the skills of balance, stability and coordination. The vast majority of fitness experts and weekend warriors don’t realize the major role played by the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Suffice to say, training the CNS is the most important element that a training program needs to include. A training program that does not address the needs of the CNS is an incomplete, inefficient and less than effective program. The CNS can be trained in a variety of ways, and the easiest way to work on the CNS is to include dynamic flexibility exercises in a program; flexibility exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and that are performed while standing and moving.
These relatively simple movements will improve your balance, stability and proprioception. You like that one, proprioception? That’s a fancy, book-learnin’ word that means the sense that you are moving properly and are aware of what your various and sundry body parts are doing.
The worst thing that a beginner can do is to try to do exercises with an external load – that’s another fancy, book learnin’ term that means “lifting weights” – before learning how to move properly and developing the requisite balance and stability skills. And another worse thing that anyone can do is to just jump on exercise equipment and start cranking out reps.
You see, machines provide all the stability and balance for you so you never have to work on these skills. It’s kind of like wearing a brace on a body part that needs to be strengthened; if the brace is always worn the body part never develops the needed strength. Machines are also worth avoiding because they force people to move in a mass-produced, one-size-fits-all, fixed pattern, and not a natural pattern that is unique to everyone. But that’s another issue for another piece of rock solid content.
In addition to dynamic flexibility exercises, there are functional movements and calisthenics such as jumping jacks, squat thrusts, leg drives and push-ups that should be learned – and taught – before people progress to using weights. Personal trainers and strength coaches who are doing their jobs properly will have their clients working on these dynamic and functional exercises before externally loading their clients.
CNS training is more complicated than weight lifting, and a program that works on the skills of balance, stability and proprioception will allow people to get the most out of their exercise time and effort.