Movement Training Made Simple

By January 8, 2016Exercise

The Real Scoop on Movement Training

Movement training is a pretty popular concept. When Conor McGregor knocked Jose Aldo the fuck out, it made the concept of “movement training” recognized by more people.

Conor McGregor holding his country's flag probably after movement training

Now, an Israeli guy with a man bun is at the forefront of this.¹ If you search for any length of time, you will start to see a bunch of graceful gymnastic-like moves, coupled with animal movement patterns.

This isn’t “bad” or “good.” It is over complicating things. Movement, at its essence, starts with the simple things. It starts with knowing how you can move.

Armed with this knowledge, you can reform and restructure any tissue you want. So as much as they are decried by many pretentious people, bodybuilders are movers, too. They just look different, because their purpose is different.

Powerlifters engage in “movement training,” as well. They train to move the most amount of weight in three different lifts.

Movement is a broad spectrum of things. All sport disciplines move, and as such, engage in “movement training.”

The goal is the thing.

Move what doesn’t move

Picture of a human brain

As Frankie is wont to say, move what doesn’t move. Whatever you do in life, train away from that in the gym. Simple as that.

One of my favorite clients is a US Army vet. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury). Due to this, he is now bound to a motorized chair. To top it off, he can’t even control it himself due to his complete lack of many voluntary movements.

Besides that, there are hordes of red tape and bureaucracy that come from dealing with the VA. This means that his visits from his Occupational and Physical Therapists will cease. Sometimes for weeks at a time, which is pretty fucking sad.

As such, I am as consistent as I can be. Moreover, I share jokes, anecdotes, life stories, and many cusswords. Despite what he has been/is going through he still laughs often.

From what his caretakers tell me, we get along pretty well. And that makes me happy. Even more inspiring are the things I have seen since working with him.

At first he could only move his right leg in two directions.

Over time, he was able to couple his external rotation with some knee extension. And he was able to hold me up while I put my chest on his foot. (Basically, the end of a leg press). Pretty impressive stuff. A real deal PR that makes your 500lb deadlift almost trivial.

Recently, while working together there was another break through. While I was leaning on his foot, he managed to move all my weight. He abducted and adducted his hips (side to side movement) with resistance. I am pretty proud to be a part of that.

Fast forward a month or more later, and the results are more impressive. Regained hip function, which is fucking awesome given his circumstances.

Not only is he getting stronger in these new ranges of motion, he’s getting more responsive and faster. Fucking sweet. To that, we managed to work on his ability to internally rotate his humerus and extend his elbow. In layman terms, he almost has the motor capability to pour a cup of water out

The essence of “movement training,” which is all the rage now, can be broken down among this story.

When you’re regaining function or performing novel movements, you are adapting. You’re nervous system is adapting and your tissue is too.

So when you move something in a given context, you will have to keep on doing so for a while.

Later, you will have to get more complex to be able to move more. (This is why cross training is important).

So, for our veteran, in the quest to regain even some of the basic movements, we can find examples of this. What started with manual manipulation (someone moving him) became one motion.

From one motion came another. In his case, internal and external hip rotation. Then came the knee extension (while lying down he can leg press me out).

After that, we did the abduction and adduction. Recently, he was able to move me downward. New function (hip extension).

Now, we sequence them together.

We see what he can do, and have him do it; we then see if he can expand that. In our last visits, we took these motions and added more context. He performed the abduction and adduction with his knee bent.

More complexity, more context, and a goal of getting him to stand (down the road).

It’s important to remember that some people are paying a high price to merely exist. This is all relative, and everyone has their own inner conflict to resolve.

While not everyone will be so fortunate to regain function like that, we can still remind ourselves that there is at least some hope out there.

This forward movement is the essence of “movement training.”


¹No disrespect to Ido at all. He has a lot of great ideas. Like movement being important. That’s the most important one.


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About Peter Baker

In addition to being a fan of music and heavy metal, I am an avid player of table top RPGs, and I am a personal trainer in Tampa, FL as well as a graduate of the prestigious University of South Florida. Formerly, I was a prefect for House Slytherin.

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