Why we stay away from conventional approaches to training

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

The heath and fitness industry is at its highest point in history. Never has more money been spent on gym memberships, exercise professionals or rehabilitation specialist than now. What is interesting is that we are also at the time in history where the largest number of people are suffering from chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.

The only way to explain this phenomenon is to compare how humans are currently training with how we our genetically built to function. We evolved as a specie by adapting to the stresses our environment has posed on us for millions of years. By repeating neurological patterns over time they have become encoded in our genetic sequence. The most important milestone in human history was when environmental pressures forced our species to adapt from being tree dwellers to standing and walking on 2 legs. Sprinting, throwing, pushing, pulling, twisting, squatting and bending then preceded and were all movements we needed to perform in order to survive. Over millions of years our bodies have adapted to perform these movements as efficiently as possible. By observing these movements we can make several assumptions on how we our built. In every movement, many different muscles groups work in harmony, with a synergy between prime movers and stabilisers. The stabilisers have to support the structure in place for prime movers to carry out the movement. We can also observe how we function optimally working with opposite arms and legs together. This is clearly visible when running, walking and throwing, which on a level of hierarchy were the most significant movements for our survival. This has led to the development of our anterior and posterior oblique sling which allows us to rotate our trunk and links our upper and lower bodies contra-laterraly. This is all connected thanks to our fascia, which is like a 3d spider web that wraps around all our bones, muscles, nerves and organs. As we can see in the following diagram, the fascia links muscles to work together allowing functional whole body movement patterns. The image on the left of the diagram shows our spiral lines which connects our bodies contra-laterraly.

The different fascial lines illustrated by Anatomy Trains

Exercise has become a big business, and conventional gyms and training approaches have come up with one sized fits all approaches to get people “fit in the shortest amount of time”. With the aim of helping inexperienced clients achieve quick and easy gains in muscle size and feel good, they have equipment which allows you to be in comfortable position, generally sitting or lying down, and isolate one muscle at the time. This approach simply has many flaws as it leaves out our stabilisers and just teaches the muscles how not to work together. But just as tobacco companies have managed to make smoking look “cool”, conventional gyms have managed exactly the same with the use of their machines. The problem however doesn't end here. The educational system still divides human anatomy into many unrelated parts instead of an integrated whole, and teaches how to address the symptoms instead of the cause of any dysfunction. As a result, a large number of trainers and rehabilitation specialist all over the word still use outdated approaches which just doesn't the into account how humans are really meant to function. Other approaches like Cross Fit or heavy weight conditioning, which are referred to as “functional”, have also been prevailing all around the world. But these approaches just don’t take into account the interactions of the fascia and our sling systems, and we just need to ask our selves if its optimal to train a human by loading the joints with heavy loads while moving up in down in only one plane of motion when we evolved to move in multiple plains of motion.

Instead of helping solve the problem, conventional training approaches are making it worst! We all have unique bodies with certain restrictions or imbalances due to past injuries, dysfunctional postural habits and other stressors. The only way to effectively train a human is to first address each individual's unique needs, and continue with an integrative movement approach which respects how we are designed as humans! From a functional foundation, it's then possible to work towards ANY fitness goal, whether it's to train for an event or sport, to gain strength, to improve cardiovascular fitness or to look good. The musculoskeletal system will develop in proportion and the training gains will be applicable to real life activities.


Anatomy Trains. 2019. Anatomy Trains - Dynamic Education for Body-Minded Professionals. Available at: https://www.anatomytrains.com.

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