If you want to run faster, lift heavier, or have larger calf muscles, the path to achieve results is pretty clear. But sometimes the goal is more elusive and that is when you should focus on your weaknesses until they become your strength.
I know what you are thinking: yes, previous studies have indeed shown there is an undeniable decline of muscle with age, but these studies have generally been done on a more average, sedentary group of study subjects to conclude these effects of aging.
Where to start
So, when it comes to getting fit, if we don't want to end up like the 74-year-old sedentary man from the study (with the fat and shrivelled muscles) I would suggest looking for your weakest attributes and start focusing on those.
If you can run just fine but lack upper body strength, let's get those muscles moving. If you can't touch your shins, let alone your toes, then perhaps it is time to get a stretching routine in place or hit up your local yoga class. If you have never even attempted a pull-up let alone completed one, let's get working on those pulling muscles!
You get the idea.
I have heard it described like this: even if your car has a flat tire, you can still drive it pretty fast, but that flat tire is using up a lot of extra gas (energy) and will eventually wreck the overall alignment of your car. And those are the human inefficiencies that a Functional Movement Screen is designed to reveal.
When a client starts working with me as their coach, I often have them do what is called a Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This is a screening tool designed to identify movement patterns that may indicate weakness, increased risk of injury, or simply some inefficient movement patterns that may cause a reduction in performance.
The FMS consists of seven movement patterns involving mobility and stability. The seven movement patterns are:
- Deep Squat
- Hurdle Step
- In-line Lunge
- Active Straight-leg Raise
- Trunk Stability Push-up
- Rotary Stability
- Shoulder Mobility
This can be a useful series of movements to run ourselves through but honestly, most of us don't need a test to determine where our deficiencies are. We are likely very (perhaps even painfully) aware of our movement weaknesses.
So, like a weak link in a chain that could allow a thief to make off with your bike, let's begin our fitness adventure by shoring up our defences. And like the masters athletes in the study, let's start ourselves on the road to being indistinguishable in an MRI from a whippersnapper who is 30 years our junior.
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