Whole Body Integration & Basic strongman concepts

For once NSCA has come up with an article I liked in their latest issue that I will reprint here and discuss briefly. I highlighted the key points, and left out the suggested (and rather weak) exercises.

Using Whole Body Integrated Multi-Planar Exercises For Baseline Conditioning: Experience the Future of Conditioning by Going Back to Our Roots, by Kyle Brown

“Think back to one of the most legendary series of movies of all time—Rocky.

More specifically, go back circa 1985 to Rocky IV, where Rocky Balboa comes out of retirement to avenge the loss of Apollo Creed by fighting the super-human Russian named Ivan Drago. On one side, Ivan Drago is shown training for the fight with scientists monitoring his strength and power output with high tech computers as he performs isolated machine-based exercises like the leg press and pec dec fly. On the other side, Rocky Balboa is shown isolated in the middle of the Soviet wilderness training only with the tools of everyday life. For example, he is shown pulling a wheelbarrow full of bricks, running through knee-high snow, chopping wood with an axe, and shoveling snow. Yet, when it came to the fight, all of Rocky’s training skills transferred over to his sport of boxing as he chopped down the Russian to reclaim the Heavyweight Championship.

This style of training, and its transfer of conditioning fundamentals into sports and everyday life, is one of the main principles behind whole body integration.
Whole body integration is a style of training where instead of isolating a particular muscle, or muscle group, you utilize your entire body either to move or stabilize. Most drills we perform in the gym have a tendency to focus on isolated lifting (i.e., moving up in a field of gravity like a squat or a standing shoulder press).

While these are excellent drills (because we are on our feet and promoting consistent chain reaction mechanics that will carry over to sport), they are incomplete.

We also need to consider the all-important “shifting” considerations so that maximum carry over is realized. We often forget to consider this very important aspect of training, perhaps because it is rarely seen (or even thought about) in the gym setting. “Shifting” training involves moving a load through a field of gravity, not simply against it.

Think about carrying boxes during a home move; we are lifting (against a field of gravity) and shifting (moving the boxes through a field of gravity from point A to point B as we shift across the floor). We do not incorporate “shifting” drills (i.e., moving through a field of gravity) when we think of nervous system patterning, force production, and stress lines into the body that transfer into sport.
Moreover, triplanar movement training (training within all planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse or front/ back, side to side, and rotational) has become a hot topic in progressive fitness training. This is similar to the complex movement patterns of a workingman like a farmer, a professional mover, or a lumberjack. What we call “working out,” they call “chores” or “work.” All of the exercises, or “chores,” that these workers perform involve whole body integration within multiple planes of motion. For example, when moving a dresser up a set of stairs, a professional mover will lift with their legs and use their upper torso muscles to hold and stabilize the load (the dresser) while walking up a flight of stairs. Not only are they lifting, but they are twisting and bending as they move the resistance around tough corners.”

The concept the author is referring to in one I have posted about in the past, the concept of  lifting AND carrying odd and heavy objects, so that you moving up AND across the field of gravity. This is seen in many events of strongman competitions and should be implemented in more programs.

You can get great GPP conditioning while building core strength and full body coordination with those exercises. Strength you can use in your daily life or in sports. We all know some laborers or handymen that can display great strength without ever having gone to a gym in their entire lives. They do lift and carry odd objects all day long though, hammer away or shovel stuff.

What exercises could you implement? Walking swings, walking lunges, bear crawls, farmers walk, tire flips, overhead walk, zercher lift and walk, shouldering and carrying, loading to a platform, dragging and pushing sleds… Get ups also fall in that category, as you are moving your body around under the weight instead of just lifting.

Køb farmers walk her

Check out the last part of the video below for inspiration.

Dan John has recently written an article on T nation The secret of loaded carries. Check it out although I think he’s just rehashing  this article ;)

A few days ago I tried a 3 meter long slosh pipe for the first time. Getting it overhead and keeping it there while walking is a challenge. Holy crap, although this pipe hardly weighs anything, my abs are still sore, not to mention it was really fun.

And while you are at it, start throwing and slamming medicine balls for a well rounded program. There’s more to fitness and strength than linear movements.


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One response to “Whole Body Integration & Basic strongman concepts

  1. Pingback: Første ViPR instruktør certificering i Danmark « Kettlebell-fitness.dk's Blog

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