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What Is Your Workout Missing?


What's Missing in Your Workout?

By Shane Sauer

If you’re reading this, chances are you are a person who currently exercises, used to exercise and wants to get back to it, or is thinking about starting exercise.  Whichever grouping you fall under, take a moment and ask yourself this question, “Why should I bother?”

Whatever your answer to this question is, I believe that it can be boiled down to a desire to maintain or increase your ability to move.  If you currently exercise, you probably enjoy the time you spend moving.  If you’re trying to get back to exercise, you probably stopped due to injury or other life distractions and miss the activities you used to enjoy.  If you’re just now considering exercise, there’s likely a motivating factor like climbing the stairs or chasing the kids without being in pain or out of breath.  Whatever your perspective is, I think we can all agree that moving better makes life easier and more fun. 


Switching gears a little bit, let me tell you the story of a nifty little animal, the sea squirt. (OK, it’s a big shift in gears, but trust me, it will all make sense in the end.)  This picture is of an adult sea squirt.  It has happily affixed itself to a location where the ocean current brings it all the nutrients it needs to survive.  Once upon a time, however, things weren’t so easy for the sea squirt.  As a baby, it was moving around the ocean looking for a spot to settle down.  To help it find just the right place, the baby sea squirt had a primitive brain and nervous system.  Putting this brain to good use, the sea squirt picked its current home and put down some roots.  Not having to worry about movement anymore, the sea squirt then “ate” its own brain. (Remind you of anyone you know?)

The story of the sea squirt illustrates how important the brain and nervous system are for movement.  As humans, we have the ability to travel the world and negotiate innumerable obstacles.  The source of this ability is the functioning of our complex brain and nervous system.

Now, just as I boiled the reason for exercise down to better movement, I’ll boil the complexity of the brain down into 3 functions:

1.       Receive information from the body and the environment.

2.       Interpret this information based on previous experiences.

3.       Create an action (movement, speech, thought, etc.) based on the interpretation.

In summary, we exercise to move better and our brain is responsible for the control of our movement.  Movement, however, is the last step in a three-step process of brain function.  So, if you’re out walking and counting steps or in the gym counting reps, you’re only training with one-third of the tools available to you for exercise.  By learning how to train the way your brain receives information and interprets that information you can improve your capacity for movement.

What’s missing from your workout?  Over the next few weeks, I’ll dig deeper into these different functions of the brain and provide you with some of the tools for training them.  For now, remember that having a partial toolbox is better than being empty handed and to just keep moving because movement is essential to human life.

Check out this video that exapnds on and takes a deeper look at the information presented in this blog.
You can also find other videos from MATRIX Personalized Fitness on YouTube.