Why Enhanced Body Weight Training?
Over the past 30 years I have been watching youth sports. I have observed the joy, passion, fanaticism and the sheer joy of the kids and parents. Pop Warner football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, lacrosse and baseball all share the common thread of developing the physical, psychological, mental and social components for our children. I have enjoyed these moments as a father, therapist and “just watching” youth sports.
It is clear that kids today are deconditioned and the reasons are
numerous. From enormous pressure to perform at school, inordinate
amount of time on computers, safety issues, the need to drive kids to every
activity, ineffective physical education programs and just plain indolence,
kids today are “out of shape”.
BMI is elevated, muscles are tight and weak, posture is poor secondary to sitting and standing improperly and carrying backpacks that are too heavy. These faulty postural postures occur during sitting, standing, exercise and athletics.
Specifically, these faulty patterns performed during exercise and athletics
lead to potential injury. These positions place the neck, back and extremity
musculature at risk to become tight, weak and ineffective as stabilizers and
prime movers of the body.
A recent study examined the influence of posture on field tests measuring trunk
strength and endurance. The study concluded that unless the postural position
was consistently aligned, the results of these field tests were not valid.
To paraphrase the authors “even the common push-up, if done with proper posture, could be beneficial for young athletes, not only as a strengthening exercise for the upper body and core, but as a core control exercise.” Too many young athletes progress to strength training machines and free weights, such as the bench press, WHEN THEY CANNOT CONTROL PROPER BODY POSTURE IN BASIC FIELD TESTS!
Finding ways to provide feedback and allow alignment of the back, hips, thoracic spine and head during basic bodyweight exercises like the push-up, sit-up, chin-up, dips, etc. would be enormously useful in assisting young and old athletes learn how to control exercise posture.
Enhanced bodyweight training teaches athletes how to control their exercise and athletic posture while “activating their core”. Developing “core awareness”, which is the primary support in maintaining exercise and athletic posture, enables the athlete to perform skilled athletic tasks. If you can’t control your own bodyweight and you are not “core activated” faulty movement patterns will occur, preventing the athlete from performing at their maximal potential.
Enhanced bodyweight training can be both assistive and resistive allowing the athlete to learn how to place the body in the proper position. Assistive bodyweight exercise also allows the athlete to “lift their body” against gravity and develop functional strength throughout the range of motion. By assisting the athlete, the athlete is able to complete more volume (repetitions x sets) of the exercise, leading to better results in developing strength, power and muscular endurance.