After working for over 20 years in the fitness industry, I have never felt like I have been limited on advancement in my career. I am continuously learning new ways to expand my knowledge and improve training techniques. Serving an industry that is constantly evolving we, fitness professionals, are lucky to have a constant influx of information and strategies to evolve our services.
As fitness professionals, it is our responsibility to continue to share and teach as we learn. I am here to offer some of my knowledge and insight on advancing some of your basic movement patterns with natural progressions to take your training up a notch.
Neuromuscular activation, movement pattern integration, and joint stabilization are just a few ways we train our clients to properly load the body. However, by adding a balance training platform such as the Step360 Pro you can increase neuromuscular activation and joint stabilization and take traditional exercises to the next level.
A typical progression I would use for exercises would be:
- Movements on the ground until the basic fundamentals of the exercise have been learned. Or maximizing activation techniques with the Step360 Pro to increase muscular recruitment.
- Half grounded or stepping on/off of the Step360 Pro platform.
- Fully utilizing the Step360 Pro platform. Standing, seated, lying and/or plank based.
Basic neuromuscular activation occurs when the purpose of an exercise is to cause the stimulation of muscle fibers and/or increase the number of muscle fiber recruitment of a single muscle or group of muscles working together. I utilize many different types of activation exercises to increase muscle fiber firing. Most of these exercises can be included in a dynamic warm-up.
For example, the Glute Bridge is a great exercise to implement in preparation for lower body training for heavy lifts or speed. Since most clients have underactive glutes/hip extension muscles, it is important to activate this area prior to heavy weight loads, plyometric, or speed training. The glute bridge can actually be used to activate the entire posterior chain – check out the video below.
Movement Pattern Integration:
When progressing and learning specific exercises, the body must learn the precise movement pattern before it becomes natural. Movement pattern integration exercises breakdown movements and teach the proper firing of muscles in a particular order to achieve the end result of a fully integrated exercise.
I like to use exercises that focus on core activation and kinetic chain linking to progressively connect the musculoskeletal system within a particular movement. I purposefully use core bracing with extremity movements, like the Grounded Single Leg RDL to Heel Tap, as a movement pattern integration exercise to fully incorporate and activate the body’s muscular sequencing system.
Joint stabilization is the increase in tension and joint integrity by the tissues surrounding a skeletal joint to resist instability. While there are many different ways to increase joint stabilization, I prefer to use single leg grounded exercises along with light deceleration and stability based plyometrics for the lower body. When performing double leg jumps or single leg hops, the forced activation of the muscles surrounding the joints of the hips, knees, and ankles progressively increases tension and overall joint integrity and stabilization.
For the upper body, I prefer to use quadruped and/or plank-based exercises. When the body has to support itself through the shoulder girdle and core bracing, the demand on the wrist, elbow, and entire shoulder joint is increased. This overall increase in body support and bracing will improve global joint stability and strength. Scapular Push-Ups are a great example of an upper body joint stabilization exercise to improve joint stabilization from the wrist to the shoulders.
If you are looking to take your training up a notch, I recommend adding a few of these exercises to your repertoire. Increasing the number of neuromuscular activation, movement pattern integration, and joint stabilization exercises on the Step360 Pro has improved my overall programming and variety of exercises for success with my clients.