The purpose of an exercise training program is to increase efficiency and vitality. We want to always be improving, not simply for the sake of it but because life requires it. Without movement there is death and if your training program doesn’t supply adequate stimulus your program is dead.
Ok, that sounds a little dramatic. And it is. But it’s important to understand. Change is what keeps us going. It keeps us interested, but we must unite change with quality. We cannot invite change just for the sake of it. It must be purposeful and integrated. So, what sets an intuitive fitness program, which values varied complexity, apart from traditional fitness methods, pushing progressive intensity, is understanding this:
“When learning is carried out under conditions of maximum effort [as with High Intensity Interval Training], and even this does not seem enough, there is no longer any way of speeding up action or making it stronger or better, because the individual has already reached the limit of (their) capacity. At this point breathing is arrested; there is superfluous effort, little ability to observe, and no prospect of improvement. – Moshe Feldenkrais
Having a set exercise program is not enough. It’s not enough to simply know movements or movement patterns and then speed them up or repeat them more times. We need to understand movement efficiency and be able to practice and develop the Elements of Technique so they are translatable to our exercise program. If you missed the first article in this series, Click Here to learn more about movement efficiency and the Elements of Technique.
If you’re ready to move on, today’s article provides practical definitions and exercises designed to help you perceive the effects of gravitational pull.
Understand life in relation to gravity
We must recognize, respect, and train within the gravitational field lest inefficiency and injury present.
“It’s only when gravity starts to take over you begin to think about your body”. – David Soul
Gravity is the force that attracts a mass towards the earth, or indeed any mass toward a larger.
- Lay Out: Lay on the floor on your back, palms facing upward.
- Why is it that you do not float up from where you are lying?
- Feel the sensations of your body on the floor.
- Where can you tell that gravity is acting on your body, i.e. where do you feel the pressure of your body into the floor; your buttocks, your head, your heels, where?
- Play here by removing limbs from the floor.
- Note what you sense.
Body mass is an absolute value of how heavy your physical body is
Bodyweight is the perception of your body mass relative to gravity
- Stand Tall: Come to standing in a position with good posture: chin is slightly tucked, abdominals are engaged but not taught, there is a slight shift of bodyweight back onto your heels, shoulder blades are engaged, but not pulled back.
- Can you feel the weight of your body in your heels?
- Are your toes free to wiggle or do you feel weight there too?
- Can you make yourself “feel” heavier by sinking more weight into your heels?
- What if you lean to one side?
- Does the perception of your body mass change as you shift from side to side?
- Play here.
- Note what you sense.
Center of Gravity – the point on the physical body around which the mass is in balance
- Lean Out: From the Stand Tall position, start to shift your body mass to one side, eventually taking one foot off the floor.
- Maintain balance and see if you can identify a point near your belly button that shifts as your body does.
- While maintaining that balance, side bend so as to throw your body out of balance but resist falling over.
- Do you feel the increase in tension in your side body as you attempt to fight the pull of gravity?
Surface of Support – that which supports the physical body; whatever you find yourself on is your surface of support: a chair, the floor, the counter, a beam, a log, a paddleboard, a bed, grass, another person, a BOSU, a mat, etc.
Point(s) of Support – the points on the physical body which come in contact with the surface of support
- What are the points of support in the Stand Tall position?
- What are the points of support in a crawling position?
- Come to your surface of support and adopt a crawling position: hands, knees, and feet all touching the surface of support.
- Move around trying to engage as many parts of your body with the surface of support as possible.
- Try to find as many different points of support as possible.
- Can you make a point of support out of every surface of your body?
- Can you move from that point?
- Imagine you had no legs.
- How could you travel from point A to point B?
- What if you took away your arms and you were now just trunk and legs.
- Could you get around?
Base of Support – the invisible area connecting all points of support
- Visualize a toy figurine. Notice the plastic base supporting the figurine. It covers the surface area around and from each foot (or hand, knees and feet). That would be the base of support of the figurine, if it didn’t extend outward from the points of support.
Combined Center of Gravity – the point between the physical body and a(n) external object(s) of sufficient mass around which the two (or more) are in balance over the base of support
- What is the surface of support in this image?
- Try your own variation.
- What is required to stay in balance and maintain proper position?
Bodyweight Shifting – using muscular effort by leaning toward one side of the body so as to allow for the displacement of the opposing side to thereby create movement of the physical body.
- Butt Walk: Sit on your buttocks on your surface of support with knees bent and feet flat on the surface of support.
- Bring your arms straight out in front of yourself and suspend them over your knees if you can, otherwise bring them inside or outside your knees.
- Lean most of your bodyweight into both sit bones keeping your position through the spine tall and feet light.
- Shift your bodyweight onto one sit bone, removing pressure from the other so that it can be “stepped” forward.
- Now shift your bodyweight onto the sit bone you just stepped forward and “step” the opposing sit bone forward.
- Repeat these alternating “steps” until you have traveled a significant distance.
- Where do you notice tension (work)?
- Do you sense the effort to maintain balance?
- Is this an efficient way to move? Why/why not?
Bodyweight Transfer – using momentum to transmit force to the body and thereby create movement of the physical body
- Start in the Stand Tall position and swing one leg back and forth.
- Your arms will naturally want to swing in the opposite direction to balance the rotation in the torso; allow them.
- As your swinging leg starts to gain more and more amplitude, notice how the opposite leg wants to lift off the ground. It might be as subtle as a tug on the opposite hamstring or even a lift in the heel. When you feel that tug or lift allow that opposite leg to slide forward.
- Revel in your newfound position.
Bodyweight Shifting vs Bodyweight Transfer
- Compare the use of bodyweight shifting to bodyweight transfer to move.
- What are the pros/cons of each?
Of course, these exercises don’t establish a complete physical training session. They are merely meant to expose you to sensations found in human movement. The purpose is to develop a relationship with gravity where you can use it to your advantage, an environment where you understand how gravity acts on your body as you move it. This way you are empowered to develop your fitness in the safest, most holistic and true way to your unique body.
In the end, the point is to keep a little gas in the tank so there is no wasted effort, your breathing stays fluid, and you remain mindful. Vary your programming with changes in complexity not only intensity. In this way your sessions remain fun and educational, and you ensure your constant improvement.
Need More Information?
For the first article in this series, Train Balance, Control, and Rhythm for Better Fitness Results, Click Here. If this article didn’t answer your specific question, or if you want to learn more, head over to our Blog Page. It will guide you to more holistic living articles to help you develop your health and fitness intuitively.
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