Where there is muscle, there is movement
If you look closely enough, our bodies will tell us stories.
Every scar, wrinkle, stretch mark, and blemish is a beautiful representation of what we have been through in our lives thus far…but this doesn’t just stop on the surface of our skin. If we go one level deeper, our muscles can tell us everything we need to know about how we move. Many people come to me asking to help them increase the size of specific muscle groups (most notably: shoulders, glutes, and abs). Since I’m not particularly fond of a reductionistic type approach (with the exception of some scenarios), I’ll typically have them go after full-body, functional movements and then see how their body responds.
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t always respond the way they anticipate. After two months of progressing a squat, they may notice an increase in the size of their quads, but their glutes remain the same. Similarly, after months of consistent push-ups and bench press, we may see hypertrophied pecs, but their shoulders are nowhere to be found. A common reaction is to then isolate and hammer those “missing” muscle groups in an attempt to force them to respond. This may work for a little bit, but we could still be hitting a plateau with our progress (not to mention, it is not always the most functional approach).
So, how do we explain this?
In the simplest of ways, muscle develops where there is movement. If we are squatting, deadlifting, and bridging ourselves to death but still find ourselves with no glute development, we may have simply lost touch with our glutes. When we then go to perform these movements, our hamstrings and/or quads could dominate the exercise to make up for the missing stimulation.
This isn’t neither good nor bad; it is merely how our body has figured out how to move based on what we have exposed ourselves to over our lifetime. This may develop into some potential issues down the road, but more on this later.
So, how do we change this?
Again, our first instinct may be to forcibly go after the glutes, but I’ve found that a more gentle, fundamental approach is far more effective. This is where postural movement therapy can be extremely helpful in terms of progressing your training. Before you go after these more involved, dynamic movements, take some time to work on basic function within aligned positions first. Pay attention to how your nerves are communicating with your muscles…then watch how this will automatically change the firing patterns of these larger movements over time.
Soon enough, you may even get the glutes and shoulders that you’ve been waiting for.
For more information on this, feel free to reach out anytime. I am happy to help anyone in their quest for a higher level of body awareness, development, and mastery.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS, PAS