Why Movement over Muscles?

Movement Over Muscles

Human anatomical posture. Gettyimages

We have entered a new golden age of fitness education. There is now more awareness about “functional fitness” beyond the so-called “bodybuilding” model that until the last 10-15 years has provided most of the mainstream education that has informed the public about how to exercise. 

There is now an understanding that movement has a higher value than muscles in isolation. Thanks to interaction among therapists, medical professionals, strength and conditioning coaches and other fitness professionals, there is increasing recognition of the complex interactions between the nervous system and muscular systems of the human body.


We can speculate as to why the increased demand for movement education. It is likely that the baby-boomer generation that drives many markets is more aware of the importance of longevity and not getting injured while working out. The body-building programs you got away with when you were in your teens and 20s, which probably used machines and isolated contraction-based movements (working one group of muscles at a time, single-joint movements), are unlikely to serve you as well as your progress into your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. 

There comes an age we have to get smarter in order to receive the benefits of a fitness program, which starts with avoiding injuries that can be caused by overzealous programs in which the capability of the exerciser does not match the intensity of the programs. 

Let’s be clear about something: There is NO victory in brutalizing yourself in your workouts. A highly trained athlete will know when and how often to push for that extra gear.

However, for long term, sustainable health and wellness, consistent exercise of varying intensities over time is the ticket. 

In this quest for sustainability, it is only natural that the fitness “market” is going back to movement. What’s Old is New. 

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did no exercise programs.

There was lots of movement, searching for food, bending, running, throwing, climbing, squatting (sorry no plumbing yet!) and other “primal’ movements. The need for more ‘exercise’ arouse out of warfare preparation. A stronger, faster, more fit tribesman had a better chance of surviving and protecting his tribal family. 

Fast forward to our 21st Century selves, sitting in a desk chair or car, sofa, or on a toilet. Reduced range of motion, particularly in the hips and low back, has become a normal part of our modern cultural habit. We now understand that exercise and fitness is really about movement and the muscular aesthetics that come with the movements tend to look good too, because it is healthy and healthy looks good!

At the seat of this movement-based culture sits the Kettlebell. Kettlebell training provides movement pattern training that is postural-oriented and integrated, and considers the neuromuscular system (nerves and muscles) as an integrated whole.  

The basic movements of kettlebell training ignite the entire posterior chain, which are those muscles of the back-side of your body, like the glutes (butt), hamstrings and lower back.

These backside muscles improve our upright posture and athletic functions of running, jumping and throwing activities.

Kettlebell Training is a “movement pattern”, rather than a collection of muscle building exercises. These movement patterns are not like the bodybuilding model (single-joint isolated contraction movements like a pec deck or bicep curl), which are useful for shaping and toning specific muscle groups, but do very little for whole-body movement. In contrast, kettlebell movements place our bodies into extension and external rotation, which is the ideal “anatomical position” that describes a healthy human standing posture. 

For improved function along with aesthetic fitness, kettlebell training may be just the ticket for you. 

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