When someone walks into my gym, and we begin to discuss goals, the topic usually tends to head in the direction of weight loss or muscle gain. This conversation usually ends up with animated descriptions of specific target areas:
- “I want to get rid of my belly.”
- “I need to tone and tighten my upper arms.”
Even with higher level high school and collegiate athletes, their goals tend to be specific to abilities that are expected in their respective sport:
- “I need to work on my first step speed and explosiveness.”
- “My son needs to work on his footwork and agility.”
While these are all VERY respectable ambitions, and are definitely key components to our BIG PICTURE goals, we need to start with the fundamentals of basic human movement. Once we develop the ability to access full ranges of motion and stability in dynamic movements, then we can start working on those target goals.
Skipping the initial step of assessing and achieving proper movement patterns is like building a house on sand, eventually the whole thing will crumble. Without mastering the foundational movements, imbalances and weaknesses will lead to pain and/or serious injury. If you work with a coach and he/she didn’t start with some sort of functional movement assessment, you should start looking for a different coach.
Yes, it is that important.
Take the deadlift for example. Most healthy people can get into some form of starting position and pull a light barbell to complete a fully locked out deadlift with very little risk of injury. They are able to do this even though they are unable to hold a bodyweight deep squat position for more than 10 seconds (if at all). However, when we start to add weight or increase the amount of reps performed without first developing the mastery of a weightless deep squat hold, the lack of mobility is going to lead to poor form and eventually pain and/ or injury.
Pain and injury are both obstructions that will keep us from achieving our original underlying goals, whether it be weight loss, muscular development, or performance enhancement. So essentially, by trying to skip steps to make faster progress, you are actually creating a situation that will put you even further from your goals.
A solid foundation of proper movement is a tool that can be used to achieve a toned, muscular body. Mastering a full range of movement will also lead to performance goals in your athletic arena of choice. No matter which way you look at it, it starts with movement.