Strength & Fitness

Training for Health vs. Training for Sport.

We all love challenging ourselves, learning new movements, and pushing our limits. But at what cost? There is value in learning new skills and gaining confidence in our body and its ability to adapt/change. But to what extent?

The fittest people you see aren’t necessarily the healthiest. Eventually, more fitness stops equating to more health. Competitive athletes understand that they will sacrifice health to “win”. They are training for top performance and to beat their competition and they will sacrifice health to meet those demands. Testing your limits and exceeding your capacity regularly will NOT improve your overall health.

It is important to remember that if you are training for health/longevity, to lose weight, to feel confident, and to look good naked, there are some movements that aren’t necessarily worth doing and that may increase the risk of injury. Some examples are kipping handstand push-ups, high volume barbell snatches, GHD sit-ups, and overhead squats.

If you want to do them because you enjoy them, and have the prerequisites/mobility to do them, that's awesome!! But if your goal is health, to look and feel good outside of the gym, there usually are better ways to get there.

Let’s dig deeper into some examples;

Overhead Squats- These require a TON of shoulder/hip/ankle/trunk mobility, coordination, balance, and strength. If your goal is to lose weight, get stronger, or look muscular and lean, performing back/front squats could lead to higher success. Think about it this way; if I want toned/strong legs, would it be more beneficial to do an empty bar or “light” OHS or to load up a bar and do back squats at 185? Back squats will build strength/muscle and create the strong/lean legs that you are looking for! The overhead squats might be “cool” but they will require a much longer time period to reach your goal.

Kipping HSPU - These are “sexy” and fun but they are not necessarily going to make you stronger and they create a higher risk for shoulder and neck pain. Think about it, they are just momentum, you are bouncing your head off of the ground and kicking your legs up to pop you back up to extension. They create a ton of stress on your neck and traps. Without the appropriate upper body strength, the potential for a neck or shoulder injury is high. Strong, boulder shoulders are built by strict movements, time under tension, and progressive overload (shoulder presses, high pulls, dips, push-ups).

High volume snatches - A barbell snatch is one of the most complex movements in the CrossFit library that usually takes years to perfect and LOTS of mobility. A large part of our population works at a desk, which can create rounded shoulders and a tight chest. This means getting your shoulders in the appropriate position overhead for a snatch, will be difficult. When you add volume (high reps) to this movement, the risk for injury then increases drastically. As you get tired, your body will start to adapt and use different muscles and movement patterns to get the barbell overhead. This usually results in changing the movement completely. You start using the wrong muscles and do wonky movements just to ‘complete” a rep. It would be more beneficial to do a movement that you're comfortable with and can do flawlessly in a workout (kb swings, power cleans, sumo deadlift high pulls, DB snatches). Save the snatching for technique and strength, where you can be intentional about your movement and focus on the correct patterns. 

Overall, there is a time and a place for ALL movements. If your goal is health, longevity, and a smokin’ hot body, stick to the basics and build your strength and capacity. If sport or competing is your goal, that's great too, but you will have to put in the time to build strength and mobility, so you can perform the high skill movements correctly and safely. Our goal is to keep you safe, to help you reach your goals, and to keep you moving long into your 90’s. We want to increase mobility and range of motion, build strength, decrease pain, and have you leaving the gym feeling like a million bucks!