The Golden Age of Strength & Conditioning – Why do we ‘Train’?

For the first time in the modern training era, there is an unparalleled cross discipline exchange among training practices and theories of human movement. For example, most training practices are now an interdisciplinary melting pot of physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, olympic lifters, gymnasts, kettlebell lovers, dancers, yogis, pilates instructors and the list goes on. This phenomenon is the strength and conditioning equivalent of the great systems theorist Buckminster Fuller’s concept of mutual accommodation that – correctly organised, functionally sound systems are never in opposition. They mutually support one another.

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Everyone shares the same basic design and body structure. People’s shoulders all work the same way: the principles that govern a stable shoulder position while vaulting in gymnastics are the same in the bench press; how you organise your shoulders to sit in lotus posture while meditating is the same way you organise them when working at your computer. It’s just that the same set of problems have traditionally been solved from radically different angles and approaches, until now.

Another contributing factor to this golden age in Strength and Conditioning is that a good S & C program now includes all the elements of human movement. That is, an intelligently structured strength and conditioning program gives the athlete full range of motion in her joints, limbs and tissues; the motor control to express those ranges; and the ability to do so under actual physical load, metabolic demand, cardio-respiratory demand, speed and stress. Couple this complete physical paradigm with the number of people now using a common language of movements and movement paradigms, and you have the largest scale model experiment in human movement in the history of the world.

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By consistently and systematically exposing athletes to the rigors of full-range movements and optimal human motor control, we’re able to quickly identify force leaks, torque dumps, bad technique, motor inefficiency, poorly integrated movement patterns; holes in strength, speed and metabolic conditioning; and restrictions in mobility. Best of all, the tool we use to detect and prevent injury is the same tool needed to improve a person at training’s performance / results. The middle-aged ‘tore my heel cord’ syndrome is a lot less likely to happen if the person’s ankle is regularly exposed to full ranges of motion in movements like pistols, lunges or squats.

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So, variety in training practices and stresses on the body, pushing to move at full ranges and trying patterns never before seen or attempted, are an integral part of fitness programming today. Don’t be afraid to increase challenge by learning a new movement from a completely different training style or discipline… Go explore your movement!!!

(This is a summary of Dr. Kelly Starrett’s approach to training in his Bestselling Book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”)

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