Live Like a Door, and Hinge Often

“You there! Yeah, you with the impeccable deadlift form! Way to go. You’re awesome, and you have mastered everything hinge related. Your possibilities are limitless!”

Has your trainer recently said this to you? Great! Most of all, congratulations, as you have perfected one of the core movements of fitness and life. You have practiced tirelessly for many months and will savor this moment that all of your favorite trainers will witness. But...what happens when you leave the Gym?

Uptown Function

‘Functional Training’ is a buzzword that gets misused more than ‘synergy’ at a business conference in Orlando. Rather than delve into the why, let’s just focus on the meaning. Functional Training is a training style that encourages strength in your everyday activities. Which of the following does the average person do on the daily? Carry a backpack/briefcase or compete in Olympic barbell Clean and Jerks?

Thought so.

Functional training helps you stay strong for the things you encounter in your daily life. Carrying a suitcase or groceries. Walking up the stairs to your 4th floor apartment.  Helping Larry from work carry all those damn revenue reports down in file storage. These are all functional forms of fitness, because they are common occurrences.

So, we train in a way that is useful to our daily lives, which helps us live a strong life. HOWEVER. This is only helpful when we actually USE our training in our lives and to our advantage.

Let’s take ‘Perfect Form Member’ from the top of the article. They’ve mastered the art of picking up heavy objects, with a deadlift form that would make Roman Gods jealous. This is fantastic, as the deadlift (the most basic hinge), is the safest and strongest way to pick something off the ground. However, if this superior form our member has learned is only used while in the gym, then we as trainers have done them a disservice. . We want them to use that great form, functionally, in their life.

List of places where one may use a deadlift in daily life.

Picking Up:

Heavy Boxes/Objects

Light Boxes/Objects

Furniture

Humans (Babies/Drunk Adults)

Suitcases

File Boxes with Larry

36 Packs of ‘Water’

Bulk Items from Costco

Suffice it to say, it’s generally most things that need to be picked up off the ground.  The issues arrive when we forget our good form that we’ve learned while  lifting these items that we leave ourselves open to injury and pain.

Yes, the Dog Toy Story

I’ve been practicing deadlifts, light and heavy, for many years now. Doing my best to perfect my form, not only for myself, but so that I can provide the best service to our members. I’ve lifted as heavy as 400lbs, which I would consider fairly strong. (This is not bragging, as you will see, purely for comparative purposes). One morning, I took my lovely yellow lab/mutt puppy dog, Buddy, for a walk. Upon returning to our home, he decided it was time to play fetch. Attempting to match the energy of my four legged friend, I ran over to find one of his toys, bent over on one leg at a very awkward angle to grab it, and immediately fell onto my face. I had severely pulled a muscle in my lower back due to the quick jerky motion of my haphazard attempt to pick up a dog toy.

I was out of commission for roughly two weeks. The first 3 days of which, I could not stand upright. I was astonished, as I had been recently focusing on my lower back strength and mobility through deadlifts. Yet, my body had failed me. If I had bent over with a more proper hinge, in a safer and less jerky fashion, I would have saved myself the pain I endured. As a result, it was 2 months before I would deadlift again. I hear about injuries like this all the time, from people who train properly and are indeed functionally strong.

Takeaway

My example is a bit extreme, and truthfully a bit of a freak accident.  Yet, it highlights a very important concept. Don’t limit the great movement and form you’ve learned to only just using it at the gym. Use it in your everyday life. The next time you go to pick anything up, be it a large television or a small toy, stop and think about your form as you do it. You’ll be happier, your body will thank you.

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