To get in shape, you don’t need to exercise in the traditional sense. Working out usually involves actions like pushing and pulling, but often overlooks the complete list of movements the body was designed to perform. Plus, many times it involves functionally pointless exercises—like biceps curls and abdominal crunches—that do no more than build mirror muscles, says Brian Bradley, fitness director at Elev8d Fitness, the new, innovative home workout program from the experts at Sonima.
Working muscles in isolation like this conditions the body into an imbalanced alignment. For example, the front of your body might be muscular and strong from focused lifting, but the back of your body might be weak and underdeveloped. This ultimately tweaks your alignment and throws your posture out of whack.
A Better Approach to Working Out
When it comes to optimal training, all you need to do is move in all the ways your body is naturally meant to move. When you reconnect and activate all your disparate parts, the whole body becomes infinitely more athletic and functional.
“Our body was designed to move in eight core ways: over, under, around, sideways, rotation, flexion, extension, and push/pull,” Bradley says. “These movements originally allowed us to hunt, gather, and survive. But in our modern lives, we don’t run our bodies through the very directions they were designed to move. Our bodies are missing natural, organic movements, ones that will wake up the joints and get the systems moving efficiently.”
What Role Does Alignment Play?
This type of functional movement is all about alignment. Why? Aligning the load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) effectively restores the body to a balanced, symmetric structure. And when the body is aligned, you can move the joints through their full range of motion without restriction.
If you think this all sounds lofty, consider the movements you try to do in real life that are restricted by “tightness” or “lack of flexibility”, such as grabbing a kid’s toy from under the table or ducking under a tree branch on a hike. Half an hour on the elliptical won’t help you do any of these better, but core Elev8d moves, like Elev8d Side Unders and Bear Crawls, will.
Simply put: You cannot be functionally fit without incorporating those 8 natural movements, but you can be functionally fit without ever doing another biceps curl or stepping on the elliptical again.
Will Natural Movements Really Get You in Shape?
The answer is a resounding yes. “Basic human movement patterns tend to be multi-joint, which means you’re recruiting more muscles than you would with a single-joint activity. And generally, you can skip the curls and other single-joint moves because you’re working these muscles to an extent by doing these activities,” says Jason Machowsky, RD, CSCS, sports performance specialist and exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery. When you’re using more muscles, you’re working harder in a shorter amount of time, burning more calories and building more strength.
Think about it: Elev8d Side Unders (demo below) work your core, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, abductors, and adductors while moving you under and sideways. Finish Line Abs work your deep abdominal muscles, glutes, and hip flexors while mimicking sprinting. These functional movements are total-body, using the muscles as an integrated system.
“To be a functioning human, you need to be whole-body driven. But the way most of us work out is really only part-driven,” Bradley explains. “Being part-driven is why people regularly go to the gym and don’t see results. It’s also why people go to work and their neck is chronically tight.”
So stop doing the traditional exercises that only ask you to be part-driven. They’re simply not as effective for your overall fitness.
Transform your body and become functionally fit with Elev8d Fitness, the revolutionary new approach to fitness that helps you achieve better results by doing less. The innovative At-Home Total-Body Workout Series burns calories, boosts energy, and strengthens and tones from head to toe in as little as 8 minutes a day.