Part III: Your Exercise Program
Your At-Home Program
There are several things that we need to consider when helping you create a program that is ideal for you. There are many variables, such as program frequency, intensity, duration, and type of workout.
You do not need to go out and buy any special equipment for this program. The exercises you do at home will be with basic. The only time you’ll need equipment is when you come in to the studio.
There are strong gymnasts, weight lifters, swimmers, etc. They got their bodies by doing different things. The “how” was different, but the “what” was the same. The “what” is their sport, the “what” is their result. What were the concepts that were the same? How can we take those concepts and build our bodies in a balanced way? The following paragraphs show our key concepts, the philosophy behind our training.
Effort. Not Force.
One major key to the My Core Balance program is you want to exert effort but you never want to force anything.
Exerting effort basically means that you're working hard. You are challenging the body to perform tasks that it is not used to doing, and you're doing this repeatedly for multiple repetitions and sets.
Forcing the range of motion happens if you are doing your repetitions and your body starts to fail. Usually compensations start here, and another part of the body begins to take over the movement when it is not supposed to. For example, if you are doing shoulder shrugs but you are lifting too much weight for your shoulders to handle, then more often than not your head and neck will jut forward. So instead of benefiting the shoulders you're now harming the neck.
Instead of forcing, you want to use less weight so that you can perform the range of motion perfectly. If you are increasing weight without regard to the proper range of motion, then your form is compromised. You're basically creating a different exercise. In the above example you're not doing shoulder shrugs anymore, you're doing neck extensions, and creating too much tension where it should not be.
It's takes a lot of focus to work out this way. You need to concentrate on the motion that you are intending to perform and at the same time be aware of the rest of your body. You don't want the rest of your body moving. Keeping the rest of your body out of the movement is just as important as the actual movement that you're working on.
As you begin the program on your own and you are reading how to do each exercise, make sure that you are equally aware of what not to do. If you notice your body begin to "cheat," you know that you're fatigued enough where your form starting to suffer. Either lighten the weight or end the set.
Your body will still grow and progress even without forcing. Let your body expand naturally as it is ready. Keep putting in the effort but let your body figure out how to do it without you forcing. This will greatly minimize your chance of injury and it will make your program much more fun.
Straighten and then Strengthen
With the amount of time that we spend sitting in our culture, our bodies are not structurally strong enough to support us. Therefore, we need a bridge from sedentary life into active life. We use posture core exercises as this bridge.
You can straighten and strengthen at the same time. In fact, the process of aligning your body means that we are building strength in the weak areas. This strength development will show up in your body as better balance, straighter stance, relaxed shoulders, and easier movement.
Isolate then Integrate
Before we start doing hard workouts we need to isolate each individual body part. Each part of body needs to learn how to do its job perfectly so that another part of the body does not compensate for the dysfunctional part of the body. Exercises early in your program will be mostly single-body part exercises. As you progress, you’ll be moving in the direction of full-body exercises.
Passive than Active
Many of the exercises that you start with are not even exercises at all. We need to reverse any tightness with passive relaxation exercises first. Passive relaxation of the muscle allows the joints to reposition. This is crucial to do first before you strengthen the muscles, because first you put in the body in the right position and then you strengthen that position.
Compensation vs. Dysfunction. Symptom vs. Source.
If you ever experience pain in your body, often it's because of a structural weakness somewhere else. For example, if your hips are dysfunctional a lot of times it can manifest as pain in the knees and ankles. Or if your shoulders are dysfunctional, usually it will manifest as a pain in neck. The body is one unit. You cannot affect one part without affecting another part. So when one part is dysfunctional it will often cause a chain reaction all the way down the body.
The important thing to remember is that we don’t ever want to chase symptoms. We’re not curing anything, we’re simply creating balance in the body. This balance makes you feel better. It’s important to realize that where you’re feeling something is usually not the source of the issue. As you progress in your training program you’ll learn more about this principle.
Tension and relaxation. Strength and Flexibility.
Each muscle is supposed to be able to do two main jobs. It's supposed to be able to tense and relax. A bodybuilder who can't relax might as well not be strong. A yoga master who can't contract the muscles might as will not be flexible. You need both to be balanced.
Stretching the muscle and contracting the muscles are really two ends of the same continuum. They're the same thing. You cannot be flexible without being strong, and can not be truly strong without being flexible.
Your body doesn't know how much weight you're lifting. It only knows tension.
It looks really impressive to see someone able to lift a lot of weight. But that’s actually not the goal. The goal is really to isolate the movement to the point to where you feel the work where you need to feel it. If you really focus on the correct body part, you actually can’t lift as much weight.
For example, if you go slowly without using momentum then you can’t do as many reps of the same weight. Or you won’t be able to use the same weight. This also helps address what I was talking about earlier with compensations.
Stop relying on willpower, motivational tricks, and pump-up strategies and learn how to top into your inner fitness fire with Chris' 60-minute audio book: Ignite Your Fitness Passion (published 2015)
Relieve your back pain with this easy-to-follow video program designed to get to the root cause of your pain: muscle imbalance. Check out the Back Pain Module.
Learn the basic principles that make a successful fitness program with Chris' 60-page book, Functional Strength: The Key To Pain-Free Movement (published 2008)