After reading Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore’s book, called “Starting Strength”, I now know more than ever why Multi-joint exercises and functional movement reigns supreme to condition the body.
Rippetoe and Kilgore say that “Physical strength, more than any other thing we possess, still determines the quality and the quantity of our time here in these bodies.” I know what they mean. As a health provider, I can think of a few categories I could add to the list of important things to possess for a long healthy life, such as, immune system, mental health, etc. But, we could easily miss the point. They are not saying that other things are not important. Rather, they are examining what is the bare essential to “exist” in “this body” we are inhabiting for the next few decades.
Take a walk through a hospital, or a nursing home, if you need some insight or motivation. Look at all the people that have lost their strength, they are too weak to walk, sit up in bed, or even feed themselves.
That is one of my biggest fears…
Being trapped in a broken down body!
It is the foundation of living in the physical world.
The best news is its something we can all work on.
How many of us know how to get our immune systems in shape? Hopefully, you will learn by reading my blog, The Health Fixer, but working on our physical bodies is something we can all do.
How many hours per day or per week do you have available to commit to your physical health?
It’s a great question.
Because then you need to ask yourself what type of exercise is worth spending your time on.
My daughter Lily is doing High School Cheerleading, along with Lacrosse and Track.
She is required to do tumbling runs consisting of a double back-handspring, followed by a back tuck (flip), and then lift, and press her teammates into the air.
These are all functional movements, in other words they require multiple joints working in unison under a load.
A bicep curl, involves the bending of the elbow to raise the weight. One joint.
Again it looks good, but it is not very practical in everyday life. My wrestling coach used to tell us that training the biceps as an isolated exercise was a waste of time unless perhaps you were a gymnast. However, when you go to any gym, that’s what people spend an awful lot of time on… bicep curls!
My coach explained that most sports need shoulders, back, butt, core, forearms and grip, and the power that comes from powerful hips and the posterior chain of muscles that run along the back of our bodies. The part we can’t see in the mirror!
A snatch, involves multiple joints.
Multiple joint exercises trains the body the way it was meant to move.
Rippetoe and Kilgore say that “The human body functions as a complete system- it works that way, and it likes to be trained that way. It doesn’t like to be separated into its constituent components and then have those components exercised separately, since the strength obtained from training will not be utilized in this way. The general pattern of strength acquisition must be the same as that in which the strength will be used.”
They go on to say, “Properly performed, full range-of-motion barbell exercises are essentially the functional expression of human skeletal and muscular anatomy under a load.”
It depends what your goal is… If you want to look good, then single joint exercises will help you meet your goals. If you want to live long, and be able to jump, climb, drag, row, run, skip, thrust, reach, push, pull, bounce, spin, hop, and roll throughout your life then do exercises that challenge those movements under a load, then start to do functional movements with a load! At this point you may think, why do I want to do those things anyway. But the inability to do those things defines your physical presence here on the planet. Imagine what its like to not be able to reach down and pick up your grandkid off the carpet(multiple joint movement). All those things (run, jump, climb, etc) are either ‘freedoms’ or ‘limitations’. It’s your choice.
That’s why I love crossfit!
The beauty of crossfit, is its scalable. Meaning the load and rate of exercise can be varied to meet the age, size, sex, and needs of the individual. So, if the exercise requires lifting a bar from the floor to an overhead position, then the person can lift a broomstick, or an Olympic barbell with many plates on either end!