"We should be able to Squat and Deadlift" - Myth busting

Following up from my recent IGTV video about the opinion that everyone should be able to perform such movements like the squat, the deadlift, the push up, lunges, rows etc, I would like to get this info down in writing so hopefully a lot of you can sit down, read and digest this info and I hope it can influence your thoughts and ideas behind programming on what we should and should be doing.

All over social media, but more so a thing of the past, trainers and coaches force their clients to do such movements. Patterns that humans are 'expected' to be able to perform. The thing is, we should not be categorised as a whole human race to be able to perform a movement that someone else can do, or because the human body could and should have been able to do it 500 years ago or more. We are different now, we have greater lifestyle demands and extremely different circumstances. Not only this, but we have such great advancements in physiology understanding and biomechanics, that training and programming can cater for and suit the needs and demands of individuals, on a personal basis. But still, trainers throw all the primal patterns into one hour training session because they think the body needs it. Wow.

Yes, hundreds of years ago, when lifestyle demands were little, general activity and movement remained very high, bodies were exposed to much more, and various positions, and we could probably expect everyone to have the ability to squat, pick heavy things from the floor, do a push up, and so on. Nowadays, in the last few decades life has tremendously changed, and no longer can anyone and everyone perform these patterns, and a lot of people are a long way from actually performing them safely, without risking injury. Why? Because the demands of some/most peoples lives have changed.

The body is an adaptation machine. And by adaptation I mean the body adjusts its mechanics to enhance strength and resilience in such positions that the body is chronically exposed to. What is the most common position nowadays? Sitting, inactivity, a sedentary lifestyle, am I right? So what the body endlessly does is try to enhance the mechanics of this body during this time spent in such positions to help protect it, and provide support and strength. Where trainers then go horribly wrong is trying to reverse it? Crazy. If someone has been mechanically adapted to suit the needs of the demands of their lifestyle, to create strength, resilience and support in demanding positions, that they will be exposed to for the next 10-20+ years, by the hell would we want to try to reverse it. And I'm sorry, but trying to do some form of primal pattern for 10 minutes during a 1 hour session is going to do nothing but potentially put the individual in a compromised, high injury risk state. This person is now suited to sitting as a desk, not suited to squat heavy loads. Trying to force this person to squat heavy loads is down right reckless, not 'functional'.

We must have the ability to assess and continually investigate the ability, available ranges and understand what is appropriate to programme for such individuals.

For some individuals who have not been exposed to chronic sedentary lifestyle, long periods of inactivity, and actually have been producing good movement patterns and have high levels of skill, but also have the appropriate pre-requisities to squat, deadlift and so on may be the only people that could potentially benefit from performing said patterns. Does this mean they are still in low risk territory, no. These movements require the highest level of skill, which even more proves the point that forcing a desk worker to perform them would be extremely reckless.

Times have changed, humans have evolved and adapted, exercise understanding has improved and progressed. Primal patterns is a thing of the past. Forcing your bias on people to perform these movements is not good coaching. It is almost certainly increasing the risk of injury, pathology status and long term health. One of the main reasons clients seek professional help is to reduce these effects, not increase the injury status.

Over and out.

Luke French | Health Coach

Published, 29th October 2020

Personal Training in Hildenborough, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. Expertise in fat loss, body composition and general health and well-being. Fitness Trainer, Personal Trainer and Health Coach

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