The world of fitness is growing. As it grows, we as coaches have to keep up and continue learning if we want to be able to produce the best human body possible for our clients. The goal is to extend an athlete’s healthy life, to allow them to be able to physically perform at their best for longer.
As I have grown as a coach, I’ve focused on building the human body from the ground up, regardless of skill level or goal. The first step I take is looking at movement variability. Movement variability is defined as the normal variations that occur in motor performance across multiple repetitions of a task (Stergiou & Decker, 2011). Bernstein eloquently described movement variability as “repetition without repetition”.
You can learn a lot about yourself by being aware of how you move in everyday activities. Many people practice bad movement variability in everyday life – from sitting down at work and getting up, to driving and sitting in a car – and at the gym when squatting, pulling, and pressing. Over time these poor movement variabilities can lead to injury or even death.
Now think about your movements when your heart rate is spiking; you are trying to stay alive because you are deep into a 10 min workout, chasing down a bad guy, or are being chased by someone/something that is trying to kill you. You end up getting a horrible time on the workout, lose the bad guy, or worst, you are caught and killed, all because you weren't able to maintain the power output over time. You were inefficient, using more energy over time than you were able to sustain. With proper fitness programming and workout planning, you can improve your movement variability to allow for higher outputs of power when needed.
Steps for Improving Movement Variability
We can correct movement variability for everyday life through
- Movement Quality
- Skills / Technique
- Energy Systems / Production
- Autonomic System
- Motor Control
- Movement Variability
We can break down movement quality and build it back up from the ground, creating a solid foundation. It starts with fixing the positions that we put our body in at all times. Being able to fix our positions will create better movement variability over time, creating better skill and technique.
Once we correct the movement quality of the body we can then look at improving skill and technique. Skill and technique dictate how much power output the human is transferring during movements at higher levels of stress. The goal is to create proper skill and technique in a lower stress environment.
With better skill and technique, we are now able to improve energy production. Energy systems are just as important for the body. To create movement, we must produce energy. The human body and mind require energy to stay alive; this is why energy is the driving force to produce longer durations of power over time (or the fight to stay live).
When put into a high stress environment, your body is requiring higher levels of energy to help keep it going. With proper movement qualities, skill, technique, and increased energy production, we are now able to handle higher levels of stress and promote better recovery long term.
This leads me to understanding the “wiring of the athlete”. The body’s autonomic system is the driving force behind how the body coordinates energy production with movement patterns and the new skills you are working on. These new skills will help promote better energy so that we are able to sustain longer durations of power.
This leads to the motor control of the human, and how the central nervous system (CNS) is a big part of our everyday life. Motor control is pretty much how the CNS reacts to different situations, it is what controls the firing of all muscles, learning new movement patterns that will promote proper movement long term, and being able to executing skills and technique you have acquired over time at lower levels of stress that will become second nature when put into a fight or flight mode.
Rewiring the Athlete’s Mind and Body
When learning new movements and skills, the goal is to stay in a parasympathetic state. This will teach the mind to take the new positions and skills we are learning as good stressors. Over time the mind ends up rewiring how the body controls positions, movement, and the skills/technique the athlete has been working on, which will help increase energy production and promote power output and sustainability in the long run. Creating better movement qualities, skills and technique, and increasing energy production will lead the athlete to rewire themselves to better handle more stress over time and will eventually improve movement variability at higher levels of stress.
Now ask yourself: Are you capable of surviving if you were to be chased by a tiger?