Whole Movement Strength Training vs. Braced Training

Title is confusing I know but what I am talking about is strength training that trains your muscles as well as your nervous system. By whole movement strength training I mean Strength Training that requires the use of many small stabilizing muscles like that of the rotator cuffs in the hip and shoulder. This training is training that focuses on movements that require balance, constant monitoring of joint position and stabilization of the joint. Exercises like a handstand, chin-up, L-seat, dead-lift, squat and standing military press all have many things in common. The body weight exercises all require constant concentration on balance and use proprioceptive feedback to a high degree, they are also able to train the joints through a complete range of motion and cause a large amount of strengthening in the connective tissue of the joints. The weight based exercises also do these things but, I believe, that they do not provide as much nervous stimulation (relating to less balance and constant monitoring of joint position required) and that the nature of leverage in gymnast style exercises place more stress on the connective tissues of the joints. However, less balance required also means that more muscle force can be applied, making weight-based exercises superior for maximizing muscle motor recruitment and is therefore more effective to train absolute muscle strength.

This is in contrast to training with the body braced against something, where there is usually little nervous stimulation required (There are of course exceptions as all training is on a continuum for intensity of nervous stimulation) and train mostly muscle strength through a specific range of motion (again, ROM varies on the exercise but i’m talking about exercises like bench press that require a rather specific movement pattern). Bodybuilding is definitely the best example of this type of training. This type of training gives you big, strong muscles but without the improvements in the nervous system and connective tissues. I am going to relate the human to a machine, a car for example. Cars have axles, tires, and an engine. This makes them go. They also have a lot of shit like ball joints, tie rods, suspension and many stabilizing metal braces. The human machine also has these in the form of muscles like the rotator cuffs, anconeus of the elbow, and the numerous small muscles of the hand. Connective tissues are similar to those metal braces in cars. So you see, training using only these movements will produce an athlete who is strong but lacks the important stabilizing tissues to prevent injury and use the muscles to their best ability.

That is all I have to say on this matter and will only add that the human body will adapt to any stimulus you provide it, if not too intense or weak, and in time will reshape itself to best adapt and co-exist with that stimulus. Or in less scientific terms a quote by Bruce Lee – “As you think, so shall you become!”