As personal trainers, movement is what we do.  It can be argued that, although we all have our interests and separate specialties, all of us personal trainers should in the least be experts in how the body moves and how to train those movements.  

Movement: an act of changing physical location or position or of having this changed.    

This puts into perspective that the term movement refers to any and all movements and, in our case, directly referencing moving our bodies.   In the world of fitness, the question usually becomes which movements are good exercises to do in a workout.   The irony that often occurs here is that we may choose exercises that by no means help our clients to move better or even to do a movement that they need to do!  For example, if your grandma was training with me twenty years ago (I've learned from my mistakes since) it is highly likely that I would have had her strapped into machines to hit some biceps curls and follow that up with some triceps extensions.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this.  In fact, if Granny's goal was to do a little bodybuilding (and there are great examples of senior bodybuilders) then my program for her was on point.  Chances are though that her goals were something closer to wanting to move better, feel better, have more energy, and maybe lose a few pounds.  Arm day in those machines probably wasn't serving her.


Movement Training vs. Muscle Training

Remember........ “neurons that fire together wire together.”  What this means for us is that if we want to improve a specific movement pattern, then we need to feed the Central Nervous System (CNS) information that specifically teaches that movement.  You wouldn't play the piano to become a better guitar player simply because they both involve your fingers, would you?  If so, you're doing it wrong.  This applies to how training is done.  Jumping is a skill that involves near-simultaneous extension at the hips and knees and plantar flexion of the ankle.  This is a complex integrated movement pattern that requires the coordinated and timely firing of many muscles to create the desired movement. With all that said it is unreasonable to think that seated calf raises (muscle training) are a great method of improving vertical jump, but you will find them often used with that result in mind. Squatting movement patterns (movement training), which are neurologically very close to the pattern involved in jumping, can make a lot of sense when trying to improve a jump.


Here are some questions to ask yourselves in terms of your programming.  

  • Why am I having my client do this movement?  
  • Are these movements relevant to their goal?
  • Are we moving in ways that result in better overall movement (movement training)?
  • Are we basically bodybuilding (muscle training)?  


Both movement training and muscle training absolutely have their place but every human being needs to be able to move well and in ways that serve them in everyday life.  Most of our clients are not bodybuilding so why do bodybuilding movements (and I do think there are good answers by the way)?  The big point here is when we ask ourselves the above questions do we have a good answer?  If you do your clients will thank you for it.