I loved climbing trees as a kid. Why? It stemmed from a few things I imagine:
- My dad was a mason and let me climb on his scaffolding when he was doing side jobs
- There was an ongoing curiosity about what it’s like to be taller, and who doesn’t want to see what being 25 feet tall looks like
- Overcoming obstacles and challenges suited me well.
But here is the thing about climbing a tree, at any given moment, you can change your course or direction. If you deem one route impassable, there is likely another route that could allow you to still climb higher.
And only you determine how high you want to climb. The higher you go, the more risk you incur. So, it’s ultimately up to you.
Basically, there are many ways to climb a tree….
I find this idea akin to movement training or exercise.
When I take someone through a movement evaluation, I want to see them squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull and do some sort of loaded carry. It gives me a great picture of how they function without much stress being placed on them.
However, there almost always comes a point where the nuances of something like a squat or push up arise:
“Someone once told me that I have to squat with my
toes straight forward, but my knees hurt when I do it”
“I really suck at push-ups, I’m just not strong enough
to do them right!”
It’s here that I step in to explain that there isn’t one “right” way to do a squat or a push up.
At FIT, we treat exercises as a means to something more, specifically functional strength focused on MOVEMENT.
For example, movement does NOT mean a barbell back squat or a standard push up. They are exercises, where squatting and pressing are movements. And I need a client of ours to be able to squat well and press well.
So, for someone getting started with us, that might mean they are doing a sandbag squat and a barbell bench press with a 15 lb. bar to get started.
Notice I said get started, because there is a second part of my tree climbing story that applies here: there is almost always a different route that allows you to climb higher in the tree if the one you are on seems too risky.
This is where so many people and so many coaches/trainers get lost. We aren’t in this to provide the easiest variation and stay so focused on the perfection of the movement we get lost in the point of training.
The body, and more importantly the mind, need to be stressed intentionally to develop resilience.
Listen, if you come to FIT and want to train, we are going to challenge you.
That doesn’t mean doing things that are unsafe. But most people that I come in contact with want to be the most outstanding version of themselves they can be.
Avoiding anything even slightly dangerous won’t get you there.
Calculated risks using conversations based on a trusting relationship along with monitoring of past and current metrics create an environment where our clients can push their physical limits regularly.
Sometimes it’s hitting a PR (Personal Record).
But other times it’s crushing a weight they have done before, but not well.
Sometimes it’s moving well and pushing hard despite being completely exhausted from work or family demands.
And sometimes, you just need to get out of your own way and do something where the skill is minimal, the risk is almost non-existent, and the brain can clear the way for the body to do serious work.
Sleds and loaded carries are great tools to accomplish this.
I will talk more about this strategy in my next blog.
But for now, remember this:
Movement is necessary for an optimal life and YOUR body dictates YOUR movement, not archaic constructs of ‘exercises’.