Exercise Outside of the Box

When was the last time you watched the Olympics, saw a ripped gymnast perform on the rings, and thought “I bet he spends a lot of time on the bench press”?  When the swimmers came up next, did you wonder how much weight Michael Phelps squats?

Gymnasts, swimmers, sprinters, and dancers all typically have extremely impressive physiques- and not from doing 3 sets of 10 reps on 10 exercises in the weight room.  The common perception (especially by professionals within the fitness industry) is that you can’t build muscle without heavy weights.  So if that’s the case, then why does that gymnast on the rings have more muscle than almost all of the guys spending countless hours on the bench press and squat rack, when all he uses is body weight?  It’s time to stop thinking inside of the box and following a cookie cutter exercise list, when the results can be even better from using less equipment.  By performing exercises without the stability of a machine or bench, the entire body has to work in harmony to create its own stability.  This is where core strength comes from, not from crunches.

The term “core” is thrown out improperly all too often, so I will briefly define what it really refers to.  The word core is NOT synonymous with abs.  The core is the entire torso and all of the various muscles within it that work to stabilize the spine, hips, and shoulder girdle.  The entire body is meant to function as a unit, and the core is what holds everything together.  So if everyone talks about wanting a strong core, then why do the same people typically work one body part at a time and almost completely eliminate the core from their exercise program?

Your body doesn’t count reps, it doesn’t assign a number to the amount of weight you are lifting, and it doesn’t only react to a small list of “approved” exercises.  There are many ways to make your muscles work hard, and it is my belief that you were born with one of the best weights around…  Yep, you guessed it- your entire body.