Moving is Like Cooking a Stew - Efficiency Part 2

training strategy Oct 02, 2016

Let me give you a metaphor to understand how movement works.

Imagine you’re cooking a meal - your favorite dish. I personally like stew, so I’ll gather my ingredients: celery, carrots, potatoes, meat. Some of these ingredients are bigger, some are smaller, some are dense, others lighter. Then you add broth or water and spices, and salt. The amount of salt and spices you use is of course much smaller than the amount of potatoes.

Good cooking means you have to get the amounts of all the ingredients just right. Unless you choose a delicate balance of all the ingredients, your dish will not come out tasty.

Imagine you’d interchange the amount of salt with the amount of potatoes. Yuck!

Timing is important, too. It matters when you add the ingredients during the cooking process. If you add the delicate vegetables too early then they get all mushy, before the potatoes are cooked through.

How does this relate to movement?

You have large muscles in the body (i.e. quadriceps, glutes, pectoralis major) and you have small muscles (i.e. deep hip rotators, popliteus, subclavius) which assist the movement of the large ones or stabilize a joint while a large muscle produces enough strength to lift a heavy pot full of stew off the stove.

Even though they are smaller, these small helper muscles are just as important as the larger ones. Just like a stew without any salt or spices will taste bland, movement that focuses too much on large muscles, will lack the joint stability that comes from the small muscles.

Further, do you know that salt and fat carry flavor? By adding salt or oil, you will taste the other spices you added even more. (This can potentially be the downfall of the dieter, for sure; not the gourmet, though). By making sure the small muscles are in fact doing their job (stabilizing the joint), the big one’s can produce even more strength around that same joint.

The whole is more than the sum of it’s parts.

During any movement sequence, such as walking, each muscle has to contract at the right time, in the right amount. Contrary to popular opinion, the goal of our muscles is NOT to always work as hard as they can. If they did, then the muscles in the front of the body and the back of the body would contract simultaneously which would basically result in locking our body in a frozen position, unable to move.

I’ve worked with one or two body builders who looked something like this:


Okay, maybe not EXACTLY like this. But close enough to get my point across. Guess what: They couldn’t lift their arms overhead!

Forget about this:

Do you really think that should be the point of exercise? I'm curious. Share your comments below. I'd love to have a conversation.


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